Two boys on their horses scampered jerkily – sort of sideways; into our camp. I was so ignorant of the type of ‘running’ the horses were doing. It seemed so different from any way I had seen a horse move before. The horses didn’t really seem to be compliant and kept flicking their heads up and down with their neck arched and sporadic low kicks from their rear legs. Anyway… they came over and the youngest boy handed me the reins.
Well.. perhaps I looked like a seasoned rider – but I had to gesture to him that I had never ridden a horse before… and we both laughed. I had looked a few months ago into a horse back adventure riding through Mongolia – so I thought now was as good a time as any to get on this smallish horse. Usually I would feel a little tentative; even patting a horse. This time I just tucked up my skirt and popped my left foot in the stirrup and up and on I went!
There I was… my first riding horse experience ever – and it was in Mongolia!! (technically it probably was a ‘being-led-on-a-horse experience’…. Lol) … but in my mind I felt like I was riding it and I just wanted to take the reins and go off across the plains… but the vision of this rather feisty horse approaching the tents was still fresh in my mind. Perhaps I will return to Mongolia to ride across the steppes one day. #idoamazingthings
Our camp was absolutely amazing. The atmosphere was so lovely with everyone tinkering and so many were helping each other. Max as usual with his ‘Mr fix-it” hands did their thing and solved many car issues for other competitors around the camp.
I wanted to sleep outside and although I did re-think it a couple of times because the wind was blowing very strongly; I wasn’t going to be back in Mongolia for a while and I wanted to sleep under the Mongolian skies… and I did! Every time I rolled over I looked up and the sky was incredible. I wished it had been longer though as the light started appearing around 3.30am… as it is approaching the Summer solstice and there isn’t much ‘night time’ now.
On our way on Day 4 – Undurshireet to Ulaanbaatar; there were three time trials in short succession and they proved to be something which brought many cars ‘unstuck’. The carnage was great for those perhaps having a bit too much fun racing on these fabulous rally roads. It was gruelling for some. Fortunately the single roll of a mother and daughter team only managed to crumple the car and both were safe protected by their sturdy roll bar.
Max was great in remembering our discussion the day before and his ‘spirited’ driving was tamed, so that we arrived in to Ulaanbaatar safely with only and oil and grease to attend to.
The track at times was rough. We had to both concentrate the whole time. Navigating was a mixture of expertise and good luck picking the best route in the veined tracks between the way points. Some areas were quite stoney and others had dips which at times sprung me from my seat. The storm front which pinged hail on me in China managed to give the Steppes a beautiful drink and there were puddles in the low areas of the tracks which was quite fun to either navigate around or drive through. One driver wasn’t so lucky on his exit route and had to be towed out after he managed to become firmly planted in the slippery mud.
The road truly was really rough in places and sadly some cars didn’t survive. I think there were about 5 who arrived at the hotel on the ‘trucks of shame’ and for the two American La France vehicles; Cars 1 & 4.. they are on a truck back to the USA.
Many cars are in the car ‘hospitals’…. scattered all around Ulaanbaatar. Engines; suspension; brakes; cooling; electrics; starter motors are all being worked on today on our ‘rest day’. Max was up early and offered his technically capable hands and problem solving knowledgeable mind to all those who wanted a bit of a hand.
Yesterday driving through the landscape was incredible.There was also something about seeing the horses which was quite lovely. They seemed playful. Affectionate. Free. The space of the expanse of the desert was so fulfilling for me. There were two times where the distances between the ‘tulips’ was more that 50km’s; so I just stared and breathed. I reflected and felt. We often stopped and Penny was quiet. At times all I could hear was the wind across my ears. I was being nourished in those quiet spaces and even when we needed to drive I felt so at home in the space of this landscape.
The smog started to fill the valleys as we approached Ulaanbaatar. I was surprised at how modern this city is. Max said it has changed remarkably within the six years since he has been here. It is a modern city. Fashionable. Quite unlike any other really. I would like to spend more than a day here. Speaking with the locals, I have been told of a sense of wishing things were better for them here. Elections are not far away and billboards with portraits are plastered around the city… often in front of a round white yurt. Time will show how this city and country evolves and will be yet another stage in its evolution of finding its own voice after centuries of either Chinese or Russian influence.
We have about a week now of camping so no internet for a while. I will however keep writing when I can so when we are back in a hotel I will upload my journals and photographs and broadcast my posts to you.
I have completed three galleries… just happy snaps; so you can feel like you are in the car with us as we are taken by Penny from Peking to Paris.
Click the following links to see the galleries.
Day 1 Leaving from the Great Wall of China – Beijing to Datong
Day 3 – Erenhot to Undurshireet
Day 4 – Undurshireet to Ulaan Baatar
#idoamazingthings @idoamazingthings #pekingtoparis
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