A journey across the Gobi desert in Mongolia.
How did everything start?
Since my very young age, I have always been intrigued by the unknown, and things that most people will describe as dangerous. When I first started to travel, I remember my grandma saying that I should not be traveling on my own, that it was unsafe for me, and that terrible things could happen to me. As I did not want to hurt her feeling, I gently understandably nod my head, so she could feel that I agreed with her.
Most people that never been further than the back of their yard, will try to give you advice on your journey across the world. (Which is uproariously funny)
In 2010, I went to Australia on a Working Holiday visa and began my journey in Perth. The first week, I found a job in a restaurant, and cleaned dishes for 3 months, and also worked for Greenpeace at the same time. I always had this dream in the corner of my head to travel by bike and it was time for me to accomplish it while I was in Australia.
The rent was pretty expensive and so the food! I did not save much cash, so I bought the cheapest bicycle I could find, (USD 200) and a crappy trailer on eBay (That will break along the way).
When I told my relative that I was going to cycle the length of Australia, they thought that I had lost my mind. Not to mention, I never cycled more than 15 km before and had no training whatsoever either. It did not stop me, as I knew that I was capable to do it, the only thing that I need it to do, it is to keep positive.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”Henry Ford
I slept in my tent most of the time, cooked my meal from my portable MSR stove. I have even crossed the Nullabor desert! Unfortunately, I ran out of money after a month and a half and had to stop at Port Lincoln. Luckily, I found a job working on a harvest Tuna boat to fill up my pocket for 3 months. (The worst and hardest job I have ever done in my life)
Guess what! I did finish my trip. I have also gone further than I thought. Cycling to the Gold Coast. (7500km from Perth to The gold coast)
When you start cycling, it quickly becomes an addiction. In 2012, I undertook my second bike touring trip in New Zealand around both islands. (4500km in 2 months)
I do not want to put the blame on Tim Cope but somehow it may be his fault. The guy is an Australian adventurer, author, filmmaker, trekking guide, and public speaker who grew up in Gippsland, Victoria. He has learned to speak fluent Russian and specializes in countries of the former Soviet Union.
I remember calling my friend over the phone, (Nick) that I met in 2008 while trekking on the mount Fansipan in Vietnam (3143m) and I said to him. Hey buddy, I have an idea and I d like to know if you will be crazy enough to follow me on my journey across the Gobi desert in Mongolia?
He did not say anything about – you are crazy that it is too dangerous! or how we gonna get water across the desert! His only concern was to get enough cash and time to join me, and that is the reason why I contacted him.
Not to mention that we honestly did not prepare much for our trip. Moreover, we did not train properly either. The only thing that we knew, is that Mongolia will get cold at night ( I mean very cold).
My sleeping bag cost me over 200 euros and I am so glad that I invest in it. Not to mention that even with my clothes on, my MSR jacket and my bennie, I was so cold!
Learn how to say water!
Crossing the Gobi desert was unquestionably the best and toughest experience of my life, even that we ran out of water many times. However, we did not freak out, we knew that it was just a matter of time before we reach the next village.
One day, a man approaches us from the middle of nowhere on his horse and looked at us like we were lost or something.
We obviously can’t speak the “Mongol.” For this reason, it is primordial that while bike touring in a foreign country is to learn how to say “water.” The man asked us to follow him, and within a few kilometers, he brought us to a well in the middle of the desert. We definitely will have never find it by ourselves.
Exited by finally getting something to drink, we filled up our bottles and water bags and pitched our tent not far from the well. After a nice meal, it was time to go to bed. Furthermore, you do not want to stay outside very long as I mentioned earlier, it is getting cold in the desert.
While waking up in the morning, we wanted to re-fill our water bottles and found out that someone had dropped the bucked or maybe the rope broke, and we had to continue our journey without water.
You may think that not getting water is the worst thing that could happen in the Gobi desert! Sandstorm can be even worst! First, Mongolia is a massive country that has a very low density. There are only 2 people per km2 which means that you probably have more chances to encounter a camel than a human being.
We got caught twice by a sandstorm while being across the gobi and there is no much you can do apart from waiting. The first sandstorm lasts about 3 hours and we could not go anywhere and had to protect ourselves behind a monastery.
Head Wind! All the way…
headwind could be a nightmare sometimes! I remember while crossing the Nullabor in Australia (12 days of headwind) I thought that nothing could be worst than what I experimented with.
I was wrong!
Every single day, we woke up hoping that we will get a tailwind! And one day we had the worst headwind ever!
We simply could not cycle against it, averaging about 5km per hour! Not only to mention that it was so cold! Unfortunately, we had no choice to carry on and finished the day with an astonishing 40km in 8 hours! Ultimately, as it was getting dark, we found a shelter under the road, picked up some coal from the side of the road, and started to make a small fire from it to keep warm.
Was it worth it?
Hell Yea! Of course, it was not the easiest bike trip I have done, but it was certainly the most challenging and if I had to do it again tomorrow, I ll go for it without thinking twice.
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