Caviar and a close call

Posted by Patrick in ULAANBAATAR
30 Jul 2012


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ferry from Korea to Russia
 

I'm in Ulaanbaatar. From the outset this has been the place I've looked forward to the most, not necessarily as a destination but more so as the entry point to the enormous amount of unpaved, unmarked and open land that spans out to the west and the freedom that goes with it.

We've been in Mongolia for about 4 days now and it has already far exceeded what we had imagined over the last number of years. The same is true for Russia, it's quite remarkable how the entire nature of the trip has changed since leaving Korea. It's been a while since I updated so I'll go back a few days and make up some stories about Russia and Russian people before getting to Mongolia.

As Kieran mentioned we met up with some fine fellows on the boat from Korea and, given the great number of warnings we received from locals, we decided to ride with them through part of Siberia to avoid being savaged by hirsute hill people. Our bikes were impounded for a number of days in Vladivostok and having exhausted all the tourist sights within a day we were only too happy to get on the bikes and head north. We rode as far as we could for the day and at about 9pm we decided to stop in the next 'town' and find accommodation. Myself and Frank entered the co-ordinates into our gps and followed the road until our turn off on the right. We turned off the main road in dimming light and began to drive towards the town along an exceptionally bad dirt road. The town was about 5km off the road and the further along the path we rode the more it deteriorated. We began to pass piles of burning rubbish and waste which lined the path right up to where the first signs of settlement appeared. Sheepishly we rode down a small lane between homes and onto another dirt road where damaged wooden houses, sat behind perfect wooden fences, lined both sides. We rode slowly through the street as dogs barked and playing children ran behind garden fences before conspicuously peeking out at us. A number of women just behind us were gathered and there was no sign of anything ahead and absolutely no sign of accommodation for travelers anywhere.

I turned around and headed back towards the group of women all the while practicing my good smile. At this point I hadn't quite worked out that the Russian for "where are you from" sounds exactly like "actor". This coupled with the fact that after asking you where you're from they always guess you're American. The end result was that I believed they had, quite plausibly, mistaken me for an American Actor. I rode up to them and without knowing it incorrectly mumbled the word 'Gostenitsa'. They stared blankly. I said it louder and slower, sure that it would stick. Again, stared blankly. I took off my helmet and tried again, this time with an unbridled and almost insulting attempt at a Russian accent. This time they looked at me sympathetically, I had clearly come across like I had a rather serious affliction. I went to plan B and made a head on pillow sleeping hand gesture, this took, they smiled and began correcting my pronunciation. I said it incorrectly maybe 5-6 times and it seemed they weren't going to tell me until I got it right. I did on my seventh attempt and one of the ladies kindly jumped in her van and began to bring us through the town to the hotel.

We pulled up in the carpark and began to get off our bikes while being watched by a shiny, glabrous chap with heavy lower lids giving his eyes the fervour common to sex addicts. Two Russian teens came Running out of a cafe with extended hands and began taking photos, one made a phone call and within two minutes the sound of bikes grew behind us as more teens arrived. More handshakes ensued, 5 people became 15 and all were eager to hug and pat these complete strangers who had arrived. The hotel we were at was booked out and so it was recommended we go to another hotel a few miles away. Three bikers led the way, one breaking off to stop traffic at intersections, allowing us and the cars that followed behind to maintain proximity. We arrived at the second hotel to find it too had no vacancy, at this point it was 11pm, we had left the hostel in Vladivostok at 7am and were feeling a little tired. Deflated we considered our options as our new Russian friends made phone calls on our behalf. Vlad, the first guy we had met had phoned his parents and had organised for us to sleep in their apartment. We arrived to the block at about 11.30 pm, rolled out camping mats, showered and went to bed amazed at the hospitality of what were complete strangers. We woke the next morning, organs in place, to an enormous spread of caviar and coffee. We sat and shoveled the salty roe into our faces while Cheryl Cole danced on the telly, all quite certain that we would never have a morning quite like it again.

We left Dalnerechensk at about 11am and started out the road to Khabarovsk, one of the towns that bookends the 2,500km 'danger zone'. We were on the road an hour when we came to a section of dirt, the ground was soft and it was almost impossible to see through the dust that was being thrown up by passing trucks. I came through the cloud and looked behind in my wing mirror, Frosty was ahead then Frank then me but no sign of Akira or Andrew coming through. A passing driver told us that one of the bikes had fallen in the dirt, I turned and rode back with Kieran. About 200meters before the dirt the power in my bike died, I tried to bump start but nothing, Akira and Andy passed by without injury as I pulled into the side of the road with a lifeless bike once again. The feeling was that the bike was out of gas but we had only filled a few kilometers back so it was impossible for it to be dry already. I examined the bike and there was no sign of a leak - it had to be either spark plugs or fuel so I started to change the plugs hoping it was as simple as that. Sure enough the plugs were working fine which was worrying, we knew from the get go that the only thing that couldn't be fixed easily on our bikes was the electronic fuel injection, if it was this I was quite simply finished.

We examined the points where the fuel pump connected to the fuel injection system, there was power going to the pump but no fuel coming through the hoses, the pump was dead. Our immediate reaction was to replace the pump, we began to consider getting the bike to Khabarovsk where we could get the new pump sent, very much thinking a replacement was the only way forward. At that point a Russian biker by the name of Vitamin pulled over and began to examine the pump, within a few minutes he had violated my bike, putting fingers and fists into spaces so tight a hooker would wince. He removed the base of the pump and began to re-wire it, all the while smoking a cigarate above the exposed, full petrol tank. He reassembled the pump and thumbed the started bringing the bike to life. I promised him my first daughter and gave him my hip-flask filled with my beloved Bushmills, an entirely fair trade considering. I rode off up the road incredibly grateful that I wasn't going home just yet.

 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Siberia Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Siberia Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Siberia Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Siberia Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Siberia Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Siberia Mongolia BMW F650GS
 
Patrick Mullen and Frosty Around The World Motorbike Trip Siberia Mongolia BMW F650GS

Comments

 

by Vitamin

Date: July 30, 2012

Comment: #1

 

by Kenneth Gill

Date: July 31, 2012

Comment: #1

Kenneth Gill:

Great to hear your latest news, I saw you guys many moons ago in Watson Lake.

 

by Vitamin

Date: July 31, 2012

Comment: #1

Vitamin:

Я не был в Watson Lake. Живу в России

 

by Ra

Date: August 02, 2012

Comment: #1

Ra:

Paddy, Great to hear your news! Sounds like one hell of a trip.. A different adventure around every corner! Your updates are fantastic.. keep them coming! Stay safe xx ra

 

by Paul

Date: August 05, 2012

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Paul:

Excellent! Totally jammy. I’ll tune in next week for another exciting installment…

 

by Ian Carrigan

Date: August 15, 2012

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Ian Carrigan:

Great stuff Paddy. Delighted to see your having an adventure! Don’t go home, just keep going!!

I hope you took a final sip of that whiskey! ; )

Keep it up!

 

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