Posts Tagged ‘road conditions’

No money to pay the toll to get in the city!!

19th August 2010 by Helen

Saturday 14th August

Sunshine again!!  Makes the scenery so much more stunning.  We are now in the Arhangai region, which is reported to be the most beautiful  and so the sunshine is a much welcome change after the cold winds and rain of the last couple of days, which made everything so very grey.

Met some backpackers looking for a lift in the opposite direction.  Found

'gorgeous' scenery

'gorgeous' scenery

ourselves driving along the side of a gorge surrounded by so many different flowers and grasses it was like an English meadow (watch out for the video).  The Arhangai region is certainly living up to its beautiful scenery reputation.

Driving on we suddenly spotted a couple of vultures sitting on the field by the side of the road.  Now that’s not something either of us have seen before.  It was soon obvious why when we got a bit closer and could see a dog chewing on a carcass, being studiously watched by the carrion crows and other birds of prey.

The road conditions continue to be a cause of much comment.  The main difference here is that a lovely new road has been built.  Except it’s got mounds of dirt blocking it every so often and everyone has to drive on the old tracks in the mud alongside the road still.  It seems a real shame, there has obviously been a really major road building programme going on but the new roads are being completed in stages, perhaps as the money becomes available.  However, without tarmac they are still being used in places but this is causing damage to what surface there is.  Where tarmac has been laid there are already cracks that have been repaired.  Apart from vehicle damage there is further damage to the surface where rivulets of water have been running down the road.  Added to which, there is further erosion along the sides of the roads, either from water running down from the hills and undermining the foundations or from water running off the road and washing away some of the edges.

Anyway, today we finally reached Tsetserleg, the main town of the Arhangai region.  As with most main towns you have to pay to get in and you have to pay to get out.  Problem.  We have no Mongolian currency at all.  We had hoped that by arriving later in the evening they toll booths would have closed for the night, but no such luck.  So we parked short of the stop sign, much to the consternation of the guard who was blowing his whistle and signalling us to move forward, even though we were not actually blocking the road.  I walked to the barrier and managed to convey that we had no Mongolian money, only Roubles, Dollars and Visa.  Whereupon we were waved through without paying.

Tonight we are staying at the Fairfield guesthouse run by Mark and Gill Newham, who came to Mongolia, from England, 17 years ago.  The church they have planted here has developed and grown over that time.

Overnight – Fairfield Guest House in Tsetserleg

Distance travelled –

Latitude

Longitude

It shouldn’t be this cold

18th August 2010 by Helen

Friday 13th August

Still on the road to Tsetserleg & Ulaanbaatar we found ourselves driving through a very high pass.  Having reached the top we were asked by a man if we could go back down the hill and tow him up to the top as he’d broken down.  We ended up towing him some 40km to the next town.

This is remarkable because we were actually driving at 2,550 meters (nearly 8,000 feet) at the top of the pass and even Landy doesn’t particularly like the thin air at that height.

driving through snowy mountains

driving through snowy mountains

This was quite some drive, through cedar forests on snow speckled hills.

Road conditions on this main road between cities can only be described as incredible.  Pot holes the size of craters span the width of the road, several feet deep and full of water after the rains.  There is no option but to go through them.  And this is the road used by lorries, bikes and ordinary cars.

Campsite – near town of Tariat

Distance travelled – 179 km

A rainy lazy start

18th August 2010 by Helen

Thursday 12th August

With the rain lashing down all morning we really did not fancy getting out and getting wet putting the tent away so it was a real lazy start around what should have been lunchtime.  Just as we were packing away there was another one of those bizarre encounters we are getting used to.  A boy / young man (mid to late teens) walked over the col.  He said hello and then just stood watching us until we had finished and got in Landy ready to drive off and then he walked away again in the direction from which he had come.

The kind of stony conditions our General Grabber tyres are having to cope with

The kind of stony conditions our General Grabber tyres are having to cope with

After some ten to twelve hours rain the road conditions had changed a bit today.  Yesterday’s sand is now like silt.  Quite hard driving – slippery and with water filling the potholes so you couldn’t see how deep they were.

Once again we are seeing forests growing on the northern slopes of the mountains and we are heading towards Totsontsengel, which is built around the logging industry.  Today we also saw our first yaks – much shyer than cows, they don’t much like having their photos taken.

We finally arrived at Totsontsengel at about 5.50 pm – having also moved an hour on from GMT as well.  The banks had closed and once again we have not been able to obtain any cash in the local currency.  Totsontsengel is described on the road signs as a city but this is also a city without ATMs.  We spent our last 3000 Tegreg on a jar of pasta sauce, having bartered the price down from 3,200, chatted with a Belgium biker overlanding in the opposite direction to us, and decided to try to find our way out of town.

Easier said than done.  Totsentsengel is apparently at a crossroads.  We

Maybe the best way to drive your car on Mongolian roads?

Maybe the best way to drive your car on Mongolian roads?

wanted to try and find the primary road to Ulaanbaatar, broadly heading south east.  Except anyone we spoke to told us to take the secondary road to the east.  We dithered back and forth across a rather interesting bridge four times – in the middle of the bridge is a dropped section level with the water, a steep slope either side.  The water runs across the bridge and down a small waterfall, thus the bridge acts as a kind of dam.  In the meantime we towed a small minibus off the field and back on to the road.

Finally, we took the road east, negotiated a closed road sign by driving round it, and headed back out into the hills.  It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s windy.  Rather like England in the late autumn.

Campsite – just outside Totsentsengel

Distance travelled – 136