Day 68 Mongolia day 7

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Heavy rain during the night has me worrying about the Mongolia northern route nightmare scenario number 1- mud. Fortunately it doesn’t last long. During the day it’s easy to see how hard it would be if the weather was against you. So many stretches are dry mud or empty river beds that would take all day to drag a bike across if the water was up. We stop in Altanbulag for petrol but there’s no-one at the petrol station. Attempts to communicate with locals result in the usual shrugging, nodding or blank looks, depending on what each particular man considers to be the appropriate response to a foreigner. "Is the petrol station open?" Nod. "Is the petrol station closed?" Nod. After half an hour the man turns up and pumps petrol by hand. We head off towards the main northern route, and both scenery and riding are spectacular. Every type of landscape, every type of track. More eagles, more falcons. People on horses, people on russian motorbikes. We stop to help one who has a flat tyre. Navigation is really hard. You can’t ask for directions, because the locals don’t know the name of the next town. There are tracks everywhere, sometimes nowhere, with no obvious way of knowing which one goes where. It’s guesswork, luck, compass bearings and hope. But we manage to find our way back onto the northern route and the town of Khalban, then beyond to a hillside camping spot with a spectacular view. Over 120 miles today, averaging about 20mph.