Saturday, 28 July 2012

Further Updates from the Gobi Gals...

Hotmail worked!!  So here is a further update from Belle & Nadine...

UB update

Checked out of the hotel, in which we had had to stay after not being able to get our Chinese visas until later than expected on Wednesday. That meant that our plans to visit Khustain National Park were also scuppered because there was no time.  So we dumped the bags at the ger before going to the Oasis to borrow some tools to dismantle the scoots.

Unfortunately, I dumped myself too, on a steep gravelly hill. The roads are so rough that you have to really rev it to get up slopes  but it makes the bike bounce almost uncontrollably - and passing bitey dogs know this. Plus I had the bags on the back, so the front end was light. Consequently, one charged, I revved, almost made it but then hit a big bump and was catapaulted off. Had a softer landing that expected though – right onto the partial carcass of a dead animal – possibly a goat or another biker who'd not got as far as me - which was lovely and smelt great. Not. By the time Nads appeared, I was just picking the last of the matted decaying flesh off my arm and shoulder. Nasty.

We also picked up a parcel for Debz and Iain to send back to the UK. Scoffed a bit of lunch there with them too which was a bit pricey,e specially for a stale cheese sandwich , a small salad and a small cooked meal but it was food, so it had to do. Prices at that place are odd – some things that you expect to be expensive are dirt cheap whilst others – like coffee and toast are not. Not sure what that's all about but its a good place so it didn't matter too much.

By the time we left the Oasis, the sky was green and  the heavens were about to dump on us. Could we make it back before it hit? Nope, not a bit of it. The road was 10cms deep in  water in no time – mud , dust and debris flowing out of nearby streets and ditches and into the road. Not that it stopped UB's drivers though; they sped past as they always do, drenching us further. The only consolation was that the water was warm, if filthy.

We almost made it back to the ger, but then 100m short we both came off, and this time, it hurt as there was no soft landing. Again it was on a steep gravelly hill, but this time, no dog  was involved. The torrential rain had soaked the track so much that it became unstable and the surface started to slip down the hill. We were lucky though and were both flung off as we slipped with it. The bike stopped quite quickly but we didn't, somersaulting backwards back down the hill until getting hooked on some rocks.  It must have looked funny though – two whities, soaked through, covered in mud and now lying in a mud river. The bike was hard to pick up because it had landed with its wheels were higher than the engine, but after several goes, we managed it ok.

But we were so cold and sore by the time that we reached the ger that we both fell asleep, until being woken by various family members. We've got some good bruises though – the front of my right thigh is black, as is the top of my right arm and left knee, and  few bruised ribs. Nads has several scrapes and bruises on her elbows. But it was nothing serious and the bike was OK. And it was a slow speed dump.

Met the charity man to try and donate some money. He seemed nice and his project interesting – 900+ disadvantaged children  being looked after, clothed, fed and educated on very little funding. But unfortunately, we were unable to help him because our contact threw an absolute hissy fit and created a scene, although we're not quite sure why. She clearly had some personal agenda so we binned her; people who behave like that are an unnecessary embarrassment and deserve to be isolated.

So because of her, the following morning, we had more plan adjusting to do, but very little time in which to do it. Up and out early to try and sort various things, a very frustrating morning of going round in circles and getting nowhere. But then, just when we were both almost at the point of desperation, we had a stroke of luck.  Sybille at the Oasis put us in touch with Ruth, a German woman who runs a small charity for abandoned kids, so we went to see her. What a nice woman and what a great feel in the place.

She's lived there 20 years, looking after children with all sorts of difficulties – orphans, domestic abuse, physical or mental difficulties, or extreme poverty. Some of the kids were there too and they were very chatty, clearly well looked after and very well mannered, a real credit to the work that she does. So we ended up donating the money to them, and hope to help them more in the future. We also gave them the Chinese bike to sell, our contact having mucked the resale up too, but it all worked out well in the end. However, another note to self ; do not allow family obligations to influence arrangements again, particularly when those obligations are one sided.

The luck continued; just as we were about to leave to find a hotel, Ruth's neighbour offered us a place to sleep, which we took. Nice people again, and with just that one gesture ( plus breakfast) they wiped the frustration of the contact fiasco.

We're now on the train to Beijing, shunting about ( literally) in no man's land between Mongolia and China. We've been on the train since 0700 and its now 2100hrs, dark,  hot and noisy and we have another 18 hours to go. But then we get a hot shower and a comfortable bed so we're holding that thought very close.

We have had to leave the scoots in Mongolia for the time being ( contact let us down there too)  Iain and Debz helped us dismantle them ( thanks guys – real mates) and Ruth is kindly storing them for us until we can work out what to do. Hopefully we will be able to retrieve them, but until we can find a way, there remain stuck half a world away. Shame.