We managed to leave our luxury of the Marriott in Irkutsk on Wednesday morning. The Marriott is a great place to stay, not cheap by Irkutsk standards but the staff were great, a real fun bunch. A young girl, Arina took a shine to Paul and was always full of smiles and happy conversation.
Paul asked her recommendation for dessert one evening after eating in the hotel restaurant and she came back with the biggest ice cream I have ever seen. She needed two hands to carry the bowl. I wish I had a pic of her face as she came towards us and said something along the lines of “A big ice cream for a big man”, it was priceless!
Anyhow, enough with the luxury, we were on the bikes and heading towards Lake Baikal. The world’s largest freshwater lake. It’s so large it’s almost a sea! The views of it coming in from the road were nice.
Our target for the day was Ulan Ude. It was all tarmac with a few roadworks so a nice introduction to riding in that part of the world. We had a few hotels lined up in Ulan Ude and ended up meeting a few other people at the hotel that evening for a meal together which was nice. We managed to park our bikes in the garage along with a couple of other BMWs. It was a proper BMW Fest with 3 of them being yellow
Ulan Ude I am sure would have been ok to spend an afternoon or day there. In fact a couple of the people we met were spending a week there I think. Bike repairs and maintenance and just relaxing. Paul and I however needed to get moving as we’d “lost” 3 or 4 days so far due to weekends and customs.
The plan was to get to the border with Mongolia early in the morning and get going. We weren’t that early though and decided to hit the border when it reopened after lunch. I can’t remember if it was 1pm or 2pm, but anyway we got there 5 mins before it opened.
The roads to the border were empty and quiet. It was pretty warm, over 30 degrees c I reckon but as long as you were moving it was ok. The bus stops are all quite nicely decorated and we found one that wasn’t full of cows taking refuge in the shade.
The formalities crossing into Mongolia were painless enough. It’s weird being a brit and you tend to queue for everything. However it’s not the way it works with forms and offices and things, so it takes some getting used to.
Paul had gone on a weeks’ intensive Russian course and I know about 10 words. The problem though are the signs, I can’t get my head around them, so thankfully there was always someone who spoke a few words of English and pointed us in the right direction.
Once into Mongolia off we went. Happy days!
We headed for Erdenet and enjoyed the lovely views and monuments. The monuments are quite common with the blue material tied to them.
Of course, we now start seeing yurts as well.
I can’t remember what time it was, but we found a hotel and checked in. We had lost an hour so it was pretty late and we took a walk into town to try and find somewhere to eat. Everywhere was closed and the only “Fast Food” place we found was not pleasant so we gave it a miss and raided the mini bar, nothing like a sugar rush before bedtime. The nights where we did sleep in hotels it always seemed we got the top floor rooms and lugging our luggage up and down all the stairs became tedious after a while. I guess it’s a downside to having soft luggage as it looks an easy target, especially in a city. Saying that however, we didn’t have a single incident or feel threatened anywhere. Apart from one chap who was quite harmless really, will come to him later.
Anyhow, our first full day in Mongolia, roads were perfect, life was good. Surely it was too easy?