12-May-2004 -- After our work (and 49°N 104°E ) in Bulgan our group moved north to the Selenge river to visit a herder cooperative. From there, we travelled north-east down the river to the remote areas of northern Selenge aimag. There is much fertile farmland here and ample irrigation water. The altitude is around 700 metres at the river – some of the lowest land in the country.
Mongolia is a cold country – we were shown a reminder when we came across a frozen lake (May 12th). Enough ice still to take the weight of the jeep – the bridge was more of a hazard than the ice!
Our route took us 20km south of this CP so we decided to have look on a fine sunny evening. No roads are marked on the map in this direction but herders live in almost all valleys of the country at different times of the year and dirt roads lead everywhere. Mongolia is the size of Western Europe but it is said that it has less than 1500 km of surfaced roads.
This typical country road – led us uncannily almost all the way to the CP. We left it and drove across 500 metres of steppe before finally walking 100 metres when the hillside became steep.
Still on the subject of roads; before the last general election the revolutionary party promised to extend the surfaced road from Erdenet to Bulgan. Nothing has been done for 4 years. It is now two months before the next election. Recently though, the route has been marked with small red flags – two edge lines and a centre line. Is this an electioneering exercise – another promise – or is the road in the advanced stage of planning? Who knows? Our team was split between optimists and cynics. In any case we liberated one of the marker flags and it now adorns the CP.
A fine way (if a little remote)to celebrate the 21st and 17th birthdays of my children Anna and Thomas.
Two days – two points – can we make it three? We are travelling east…