Монгол улс – Mongolia

Miles: 1555

Total Mileage: 9290

Cacti plants lost in the desert: 2

Tows out of sand dunes: 1

Vague route:

  • Ulaanbaishint – Russian border
  • Tsagaannuur
  • Ulgii
  • Khovd
  • Altai
  • Bayankhongor
  • Eden Zuu Monastery – Kharkhorin
  • Ulaanbatar
  • Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex – Nalaikh
  • Darkhan
  • Altanbulag – Russian border



I could talk about Mongolia forever

It was more magical than we had heard or read

We would be here till Christmas if I tried

So we have written a poem instead:



The dirt road began to unfurl

A ribbon across the land

Dust already up to ears

We hadn’t even reached the sand


At Tsagaannuur we turned left

The northern pass before us

A far more beautiful piste beyond

But far more treacherous for the bus


The herdsmen told us no

The river was far too deep

They could tow us through if we liked

But this decision was far too steep


Three hours drive back to the town

Disheartened and confused

‘How would be get to Ulaanbaatar?’, we pondered

The options left us bemused


Our Italian amici at the border

Had said they were going south

The Mongol Rally cars too

Were headed for the south

But Google said ‘NO! Don’t go south, there is a huge river to cross in the south!’

So we went south


Heading out of Ulgii

We were chased by some familiar mates

Some fellow Brits in Rally cars

With the same route dates


But they pressed on and we camped out

Feeling better about our choice

Alone at last on the Mongolian steppe

Not a sound, not a voice


The silence was deafening

If that is even a thing

What other treasures and jewels

Would Mongolia bring?


The sunrise over the hills

Lit up beautiful new tarmac

The south route would be easy we thought!

Until the road began to lack


We drove beside the asphalt

On the bumpy old dirt track

Barriers and guards stood in place

To make sure we didn’t go back


They tempted us for miles

Whilst we crawled at a snails pace

4x4s zooming past us

As if it were a formula one race


Their dust clouds on the vanishing point

We were all beginning to tire

But the scenery surrounding us

Was something to admire


The vast planes are never-ending

Camels, goats, horses, and sheep

Their nomad carers going about their business

All enclosed by mountains steep


There is a feeling of being so small

In the gigantic expanse of the steppe

Sometimes you are completely alone

In the truest meaning of the concept


The ethereal colour palette paints

A masterpiece to behold

Dusty pinks and burnt orange

Bright blue skies and sunshine like gold


Driving into Altai

The road began to improve

We even found the Rally boys

As we hit the next stretch of the road so smooth


The Gobi desert lay ahead

Supposedly more Ford Transit friendly

It’s ok for Toyota Prius and Japanese bikes

Turns out half is tarmac incidentally


Buddhist temples poised on hills

And blue scalves draped all around

The spirituality of the people and country

Gives a feeling of hallowed ground


Weather beaten cheery faces

Smile and wave as we go

The most inquisitive people we’ve ever met

And some of the nicest we’ve come to know


A herd of comical camels

Isn’t something you normally see

It’s the only type of traffic jam here

As they are wandering wild and free


One thing we will not miss however

Is the sheer amount of dust

Our little home was soon thickly coated

Inside and out with the stuff


Every corner you turn

Brings a whole new geological surprise

But had we been mistaken?

Had we left planet earth for Mars?


The desert stretched on and on

The track becoming more rough

Tina even gave up at one point

It seemed she was finding it tough


Wedged in a Gobi sand dune

A local gave us a tug

Just as the heavens began to open

And the rain came down with a thud


The desert storm was swelling

And our spirits were decreasing

Three days at twenty kmph

Does not do well for ones feelings


Yet on queue once more

The track began to improve

Back with the Italians and Ralliers

We were all on the move


As for the local delicacies

This was something we approached with care

Whole sheep’s heads and goat’s testicals

And the fermented milk of a mare


We stuck to dumplings and vodka

And delicious they both where

Sipping milky tea with the locals

Inside the protection of a Ger


One thing we will never forget

Is the Mongolian sky at night

The stars go on for light-years

Your breath taken away by the sight


But the tranquility all but vanished

As we hit the capital city

A mass of traffic and fumes as a greeting

It seemed a bit of a pity


Yet the centre was a pleasant surprise

A mishmash if cultures together

Nomads, businessman and punks

Everyone just enjoying the weather


Our next stop was to see old Chinggis

The biggest statue in the world

Astride his horse of silver

The man of the millennium we were told


Yet sadly it was time to go

Our time frame was coming to an end

We still had to drive back through Russia

With visa validity we could not bend


Our last night camped out on the steppe

Surrounded by animals and Gers

Nomads ourselves in our own little van

With a week full of adventures


A round of applause for Tina

Still with no punctures of breaks

She gave them a run for their money

All her 4×4 mates


Approaching the border at last

We were struck with a melancholy feeling

We didn’t want to leave the place

The thought of staying was appealing


But our destination was reached

Half our trip still to go

But Mongolia we will be back again soon

You’ve captured our hearts in one go


We finally reach the Mongolian border
Ger settlements and Nomads dotted around the steppes
A peaceful stretch of new tarmac
Piles of stones called Ovoos and rock monuments adorn hill tops
Horse graveyard temple monument thing


Erdene Zuu Monastery in Kharkhorin
Table for two with a view
Sükhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar
Chingghis Khan – largest equestrian statue in the world


























2 thoughts on “Монгол улс – Mongolia

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