Spent most of the morning wrangling with the Chinese Embassy and trying to get a visa. They want a copy of every document possible, but of course no copy shop ( which are few and far between in UB anyway) is open because of Nadaam, which finishes today. So we were all over the place trying to get stuff that we needed. That took ages and required some creative thinking, but at the moment we are still visaless. But we will sort something. Hopefully. There is always the plane to Korea option if all else fails.
We are now on way south to the Gobi desert, and reckon it will take us about two days. Much of the journey is off road so that will test the new Chinese bike. It is absolutely tipping it down right now though – really going for it, so progress could be slow. There are some ice caverns down there that we want to see, plus the desert itself.
It has been good staying in UB but it is now time to move on. When travelling, it is easy to get stuck in places just to regain some familiarity. But you have to learn to be on your own ( or with whomever you are travelling) because it is stressful constantly being on the move, not knowing anything about places, having to find a new place to sleep every night, looking for food and water or fuel, and being the odd one out everywhere you go. And we have met people along the way who have been really phased by that and have unfortunately allowed it get the better of them, and haven't come to terms with an itinerant lifestyle.
They are the people who moan about everything, whether it be about cost, being stared at or feeling unsafe, and then take it out on you, or worse still, try and latch on, ride with you and become part of your trip. That of course then threatens the dynamics of your own set up, so we both recognise this and are careful to avoid them and carry on doing our own thing.
We have been on the road for nearly three months now and are still getting along fine; no fights, no rows, no real differences, no money arguments. And that is quite an achievement because we have endured some very testing times, whether it be actual riding - the relentless heat and very rough piste of Kazakhstan for example - being lost in the middle of nowhere, accidents, illness, bike problems, weather, or just general tiredness. But it is how you deal with those things and overcome the difficulties they present that make the journey, not the bits that go to plan. But then again, it would have been quite nice if my bike hadn't broken down quite as much as it did.........