Urals Around Mongolia


21 October 2004: After three months of riding with the wild wind blowing through our hair, we have hit the big smoke again. Our journey has been awesome and filled with sunsets, moon rises, spectacular views and a lot of bike repairs. Mongolia is a huge land open to adventure, and we are proud to say that we have explored and enjoyed almost every minute of it.

We set off 90 days ago, bought two classic Russian motorbike and sidecars, (copies of the famous 1936 BMW), repaired them with the help of drunken mechanics, and rode them out of Ulann Baatar. We traveled 3500km to the far west of Mongolia, to the Kazakh region of Bayon Ollgie, with plenty of stopping and camping along the way. Adding a couple of motorbikes to the equation has thrown our travels into a different realm. Our self empowering adventure has impressed and confused a lot of Mongolians and worried our mothers!!

Our Iron horses have explored, loved, liked, loathed and luxuriously leisured in the wild open spaces. And somehow made it to our aimed destination. They've been great!

We were thinking though, when writing home about our travels - the best way to describe the colossal epics that we threw ourselves into would be to write a 'very' rough guide to riding a motorbike and sidecar around Mongolia .... so hold onto your horses cause here we go :


A Bridge Too Far -gone? Park Brake Mongol Style




1.      Expect that no matter how far away from civilization you think you are, a Mongolian will always find you. So not a day without meeting a Mongolian will reward you with amazing found friendships, wonderful memories and a dozen photos to be sent to which Ger? ... at what address?

2.      Be careful when nude sunbathing at Hofsgul lake. Just when you've relaxed, settled in to your novel and exposed your white flesh to the rays, two tourists on horseback and a 4WD will appear right before your slightly pink bare butt. There is no limiting this embarrassment.

3.      Beware of using Chinese firecrackers within visible distance of any Mongolian horse and 'Rider'. Ramifications can be guilt ridden, and penance may require supplying dinner to the wounded party.

4.     Keep lighter and firecrackers close to the tent entrance at all times, alongside slingshots, axe, torch, shovel and toilet paper - cause you never know when you may need them.
Note: Rabied dogs and thieves are everywhere.

5.      Offering a years wage as reward will return a stolen bag within 12 hours.

6.      Jacket, jeans and vest pockets provide the perfect hiding place for tangy Mongolian hard cheese, best used later as ammunition for rabied dogs.

7.      When offered freshly boiled sheep intestine (delicacy) it is not impolite to search the large, steaming, quivering, boiling pot for the preferred liver and lung morsels.
Note: Avoid pasty intestinal fat at all costs.

8.     Drinking Vodka from a removed motorbike indicator light cover with random passing Mongolians in -10'c, does keep you warm.
Note: Resulting drunken Mongolians, very annoying.

9.      Never, ever, ever, refuse the offer to drink fermented horse milk, (otherwise known as Arrag). Refusal does result in angry mechanics and abruptly ends urgent assistance. 

10.  As part of an exchange deal for a new mechanic (Note: previous arrag warning) the blue eyed female group member may have to work in the motorbike technic market for several days as part of new sales pitch.

11.  Remember to check and refill engine and transmission oil every single day without fail, otherwise unexpectedly in the middle of bloody nowhere, your gearbox will seize up!!!!

12.  Remember to buy oil.

13.  Side cars don't always remain attached to the bike!!!!

14.  For a stress free and oil free day, do not touch, ride or repair the motorbikes.

15.  Do not get motorbike airborne, as resulting landing will most likely snap the frame in three places.
Note: Desert location not ideal. Infrequent passing of scrap metal trucks may be of assistance.

16.  Don't be begrudged or resentful when all Mongolians point with their little pinky, to any random component of the bike and say BAD!!  Note: The arse hanging out of his bike.

17.  Insure 10liter fuel canisters are securely fastened, as the 'Rocket powered bobsled' flying along the road directly at on coming traffic, will scare the shit out of you.

18.  Chinese tents and Chinese buses share the same personal space ratio, ergonomic design and standard leaking roofs.

19.  When attempting flooded river crossings, first make friends with the local Kazakh's, as two drowned bikes may need 'live horse power' assistance to be towed to dry land.

20.  When holding illegal market stalls in the local bazaar, expect to loose half your merchandise, sell your bike at a very low price, and need a carton of beer to recover. (Photo)

21.  Three months 'Fishing practice' around Mongolia will reward in a delicious fish BBQ, three days before departure, (Thanks Rigger's)

22.  While squatting in an empty Kazakh winter camp, note that burning it down is NOT cool.

Horse Power Mongolian pony style View from the Top

Common and useful Mongolian phrases:

Motorsicle Ebdersen = Ya motorbike's stuffed, ... (again)

Bi Australi Hun, bish Americ = I'm Australian and I'm not friends with George Bush

Sanbannu = Hi, hello, please hold the dog, no arrag thank you, which way, goodbye.

Bayakhla = pronounced 'BUY-A-CAR' maybe that would have been a better idea. Note: useful phrase #1.

GPS = Ger Positioning System, a wave of a hand over a very distant hill indicating a very general direction is as fail safe and as direct as it's satellite counterpart.

Chi Ba Ba = 'You're dirty' when spoken by a Mongolian may alert you to the fact that You do need to wash!

Jijig ger = Yes I have a small (crap Chinese) tent.

Chataltie = 'Strong' used to complement a herdsman's horse and strangely never used to describe our bikes.
(Note: Motorbike frame, desert incident)

Tserey Luc = 'Handsome' when spoken by a blue eyed foreign girl, has amazing effect over Mongo mechanics, to gain cheap motorbike repairs.

Pizza = Mongo pronunciation of Peter. With additional weird translation of A BASTARD RUSSIAN

So to wrap it all up, the adventures in  Mongolia have been great fun  and every epic retold, has entertained us for hours. It's been full of strange and wonderful experiences, one's that can only be found in such a diverse and wild environment.

To travel on Motorbikes has been a journey of a lifetime and will leave an impression on our lives forever.

And to all of those out there that may contemplate a similar adventure... take note of all importatnt points highlighted above... make sure you take a good tool kit, a large hammer and beware of the Arrag!!!

Lots of Vodka, love and tangy cheese,

Chrissy, Johnno and Riggers.

Friends Met Keen interest in the sale of bike, or the seller?