To Ikh Uul to Shine-Ider and through Murun, Mongolia Week 19 31st August - 2nd September 2011
Early mornings are always nice.

The driving is slow, between 10 and occasionally 30 km/hr.

There's the occasional bridge.

And we finally saw the product of hay making.
A more substantial bridge.

They seem to be rated at 5 tonnes. Just ok for us.

The Larch trees seem to grow on the Northerly slopes. They have a bit more water than the drier South facing which catch the sun.

We are both used to trees that grow low down, with a tree line above which is tussock and snow.

We are finding this "upside down" world a bit odd.

A chance meeting with a vulture.

Which promptly flew away.

A few more river crossings.

Surprisingly solid under the wheels.

We keep reminding ourselves not to be too casual about water. There's bound to be one that will catch us out if we aren't concentrating.

The herd on their way to greener pastures in the morning sun.
We stopped for lunch and to fill up with water.
We've seen quite a few styles of building.

This stone building is at the Southern end of Jargalant.

The roof of the left hand part is copper sheet.

Our nemesis. Nearly.

This bridge, giving access to the roads North of Jargalant used to be flat. Apparently is quite a well photographed structure in its previous glory.

Apparently some of the piles have suffered a bit of subsidence.

Before arriving in Mongolia we had read that "Mongolia has no formal road system".

We are beginning to feel that the statement is a bit unkind. Its just not as formal as some other countries. 

As we got closer we became a bit concerned.

That second set of piles has sunk by a couple of meters.

There is a new bridge being built, of concrete and steel.

It may be more effective as a bridge but it won't have the character of this one.

Our guesstimate is it will probably be complete somewhere in the next 6 months. It looked like the last span was being put in place.

Regardless, we decided to try a detour rather than become a headline like "Australian Motorhome Destroys Mongolian Bridge" or "Daring Rescue of Aussies Stuck on Mongolian Bridge".

We thought we were becoming more practised at navigating through Mongolian towns.

Jargalant is a bit bigger than most and has a couple of rivers nearby.

We eventually escaped to the West.

As we headed further West, to a river crossing at Ikh Uul we got a better sense of how big the river is.

It is unlikely we'll be able to cross it sooner than Ikh Uul.

This bridge across a minor creek had passed its use by date.

The entry and exit tracks had been cut.

The bridge to Ikh Uul.

The two people in front are bridge repairers.


We found a campsite a few km past Ikh Uul. On the road to Shine-Ider.

We are struggling to cover 100 km each day on the tracks.

We are both feeling tired. When we stop for the day we seem to just want to eat and sleep.

Looks like being this way for quite a few days. Even when we get to Murun we don't expect much improvement.

We are taking "the popular scenic route".

Not sure who its popular with as once away from the towns we are seeing very little traffic - maybe two or three vehicles plus a handful of motorbikes each day.

This was a relatively good stretch of track with speeds of up to 20 km/hour achievable.

But lots of concentration required as the sun during the day meant holes were hard to see.

But ever onward through some magic scenery.
Which gets better as the day begins to close.
We approached Shine-Ider from the South West.
Mongolian towns seem to be arranged with parallel streets.

Each street has "standard sized" fenced sections containing house or ger, or both.

The hospital at Shine-Ider looked quite extensive.

Population of the town is probably a few thousand. 

Fuel was available at this station but we didn't need any.
There are few roadsigns in Mongolia.

This is one.

Unfortunately for people going the other way. And more unfortunate for us its written with Cyrillic alphabet.

To either Shine-Ider or Galt.

The ger camps North of Shine-Ider don't seem to be packing up yet.
We began to run out of day again.

The valleys are wide and flat.

We stopped for the night a short distance from the track.

About 15 km South of Murun.

If we could read it, or it was legible, we think we would recognise a milestone.

We have seen lots of these at regular intervals.

Perhaps a bit more evidence that maybe the comment we'd read about "no formal road system" was one of those nice sounding throw away remarks that are really meaningless.

Accordingly we have discarded the thought and are enjoying a road system that is different to what we are used.

Somewhere down there is a right turn.

At least that's what the compass tells us.

And there it is, in just a few km this bridge appeared.

Its on the main road West from Murun.

Our junction, coming from the South, is just to the left of it.

Murun has a population of about 35,000.

And a supermarket.

Plus a tourist information office which was closed.

To the West of Murun, about 20 km, are the Deer Stones of Uushigiin Uver.

There are fourteen at this site.

Claimed to be among the most complete and best preserved of bronze age deer stone sites.

The ones we saw previously seemed well preserved to us. We've been wondering if they were more modern!

A bit different is this stone with a carved head at the top.
Not all granite there were other stones used.

The second one from front is granite but had ochre added which helped the preservation.

A bit more like what we saw previously.

They all required intense study.

And here all the stones had a laminated printed card with a description of the stone.

The deer stones were associated with Khereksures. 

Just a different spelling to what we saw previously.

And of course a different layout.

We'd originally planned to head North to Khovsol Nuur. A lake in the same valley system as Lake Baikal.

We would then return through Murun and head West.

Unfortunately common sense has us beaten.

At our current rate of progress, uncertainty about the condition of roads, and overall tiredness, we'll give the lake a miss, and head West. Nearer the border is a convenient lake to camp at and have a rest, once we know how much time we have.

We were too tired to decipher another sign post.

West of Murun we passed what appear to be the world's most Northerly sand dunes.
A bit of rain in the air, with some sun poking through.

We've been relatively lucky with the weather. August can be rainy in the North of Mongolia, but that seems to have passed before we got here and the roads have dried out.

Our campsite, a few km past Buren Toghtokh.

Despite the tiredness we are feeling quietly chuffed with ourselves.

When tired we find that our thoughts turn more often to what can go wrong. A potentially never ending spiral.

Murun was a bit of a milestone as we'd successfully crossed some fairly remote mountainous country.

Perhaps also a sense of relief.

Murun to Ulaangom, Mongolia Week 20 3rd - 6th September 2011

Peter Tue, 06 Sep 11 15:29:21 +1000
"When tired we find that our thoughts turn more often to what can go wrong. A potentially never ending spiral."
I sometimes suffer from the same problem.
If the country is particularly difficult, or there is uncertainty with the navigation or the reliability of the vehicle, then I am inclined to push on to the destination more quickly than originally planned. This can often happen even when the country is brilliant and it is exactly why we came.
The net result is that we often arrive at the destination early and angry or dissapointed that we did not take more time.


Laurie Wed, 07 Sep 11 08:56:25 +1000
I wonder if the altitude is contributing to making you more tired than you might normally be?

Julian Thu, 08 Sep 11 06:28:24 +1000
thanks Peter and Laurie. Its certainly an interesting juggling act, how fast, how tired, how uncertain, how interesting, how long on the visa, etc.

Sorry, comments closed.