нохой хорио! Mongolia

нохой хорио! Mongolia

I leave Zharkent, the last Kazakh city where I made a stop a few kilometers from China. I take the opportunity for a small detour by the mosque of the city, which has a strange oriental look due to its construction by a Chinese architect. A headwind slowed my progression but allows me to suffer less stifling heat. I arrive at the border after about fifty kilometers. I'm getting rid of my last tenge for a hearty meal in a yurt near the border. I have to make a big loop on a deserted road but well fenced and monitored by cameras arranged at regular intervals every fifty meters or so. 

I retrieve my Kazakh exit stamp from the officer while one of his subordinates is doing tricks with my bike in the lobby in front of his hilarious colleagues. On the Chinese side, the border post is at the forefront of modernity. Electronic control of my fingerprints, facial scanner, all with instructions given by a small speaker in the language according to the origin of the passport. Direction Huergosi, shortly after the border, where I intend to take a train to advance me. But the station does not open until 18h. I have to be patient, even though the day was a good day ahead with a time difference of two hours compared to Kazakhstan. China has the particularity of having only one time zone despite its size. I'm waiting in an internet cafe turns out to be a video game room. The stereotype of the Chinese geek is represented here in all its splendor.

Mongolia Trip
After a thorough search and half an hour of waiting, I get my ticket. But on the platform I am denied access to the train because there is no cargo car to store my bike. I thought I had made it clear at the box office that I was traveling by bike, spinning with my arms. I remember one of our teachers in physiotherapy school who compared the neurological disorders post stroke - especially dysphasia - as a teleportation in China. Impossible to understand, to be understood, to read anything. Even mimes, though often explicit, are difficult to interpret. Despite a good hour of negotiation thanks to smartphone translation applications (long live the technology), I find myself with a new ticket from another city the next day. I take the road direction Yining and sleep about twenty kilometers at the exit of the city. I lost a good time with this story. But with the time difference the sun goes down to just past 22h.

The Xinjiang region in which I am is particularly under tension because of confrontations with the Muslim Uyghur community. The police is ubiquitous and the controls are frequent. Each entrance to the town, township, station and even petrol station is provided with a police station. To which we can add the few unexpected controls to which I was entitled. It is therefore between three and five checks a day that I was imposed during the crossing of this region. Ranging from ten minutes to more than an hour, a time and a colossal energy wasted by this totalitarian regime. The most laughable is that quite often some police officers do not even know what to do with my passport that they are unable to read. They eventually release me without more explanation after peeling my visas (especially those in Arabic weirdly). The check also often results in a picture of my passport and a selfie for the road. I stopped counting the number of smartphones that contained my portrait in just one week.

I stop to eat a piece in front of a stall. The Chinese are generally not very attractive which changes radically with Central Asia. Few smiles or greetings. But the keeper comes to meet me. He puts himself in mind to taste everything I eat. At the moment of chewing on a piece of kurut that remains to me (this famous dry and salted cheese with mare's milk), he leaves to spit his bite in a jeremiade of onomatopoeia. He returns without rancor with a good kilo of tomatoes from his garden that he offers me, in addition to the kilo of plums and water from his well.

I arrive in Yining after passing the routine checks. No problem to take my bike on the train that will travel separately. I scan the first time all my bags at the entrance of the station. I am asked to leave my spray waterproof because flammable. After arguing with the policewoman for a moment, I ended up negotiating to dump her content on my business rather than throwing it away. Finally she will do it. Then I have to repeat the scan operation when depositing my load. I play cunning not to confiscate my multifunction knife by taking my basic kitchen knife from the kitchen. The gas bottle that serves me for my stove will not cut and I have to empty it. This does not delight me knowing that it is forbidden to sell gasoline to anyone who does not hold a national identity card. But every day is enough for him. My bike is ready to go, new control to access the docks, scan of my backpack, body search. I even have to take a sip in my bottle to prove that it contains only water. You have to be patient !

I take a night train to Urumqi, capital of the province with its two million inhabitants. The arrival station, a little out of the way, forces me to take highways and other interchanges. I find a bus station to get me out of this ordeal and move me a hundred miles. Eighth check that lasts a while for me, always because the police do not really know what to read or what to do. We can leave while everyone has been waiting for me for more than half an hour now. Arrived at Jimsar, I have the right to the reception committee. I am at the police station for a new check and report in proper form: the places where I slept, the trains and buses borrowed, the officer seems very young, but nevertheless conscientious. However, I obey the rule obediently because a subordinate speaking good English allows us a complete exchange. I keep his number for future checks.

Finally released, I take the road, the wind in the back. I find a gas station that accepts to fill my bottle of gasoline after having parlay a moment and left a nice ticket.

нохой хорио! Mongolia

New police control at canton change, fast for once. I arrive in a village that I go through quickly. But at the exit a police car quickly caught me, new passage by police station, investigation ... although I give them the contact of the previous officer. I take this opportunity to fill my bottles of water and leave with a kilo of grapes. Officers will be sure to make "souvenir" photos that I have no doubt will be diverted into propaganda. After a few kilometers I stop on a stretch of sand to camp. I enter a desert part that will extend to Mongolia. The weather is cloudy and the setting sun blushes the damp haze over me. J '

A new hot day, my thermometer announces 39 ° C. I have a little underestimated this part which is by far the most arid that I had to cross. Fortunately regular police checks provide me with drinking water every time. I end my day at the edge of an abandoned border post, which is recent, it seems. The night is calm and the silence of the desert gently invokes me.

The next day I quickly reach a career of ore, which probably explains the many trucks that run at full speed in a metal crash. At the entrance, a pantry offers a basic restoration. The elderly couple serves me bread and a teapot of green tea, served salted with milk... the couple speaks Kazakh and we exchange some banalities. There seems to be a large Kazakh community in this part of China.

I leave without having to spend a penny, with some reserves for the day including extra bottles of water that I can not refuse. The standard format is 50cl here, and we do not clutter with the waste.

The population consumes only bottled water that it throws on the roadsides where plastic bottles are lying with yet no houses nearby. The kilometers are slowly dripping. One of the good things in China is the return of the road numbers that allow me to find me because otherwise all panels are in Chinese. But the milestones display a distance that decreases slowly, slowly.

I always drive through this desert that takes lunar aspects, I finish my day near a small cabin sheltered from the wind that rages at the end of the day. I decide to sleep in good weather, the weather is clear. But in the night I am awakened by drops gradually humming my face, slowly wetting my down. After waiting a moment hoping that passes, I have to take out the tent that I pass over to finish the night under regular showers. 

I finally reach a city the next morning, after more than two hundred kilometers without housing. Of course, new control at the entrance. Municipal police officers do not fail to call the police at the borders who arrives arrogantly. I am inspected, questioned and then I am invited to eat in a restaurant in town. My breakfast is less than two hours long and I am served a double portion of pasta on which rest at least three scrambled eggs. All to be enjoyed with chopsticks please. Fortunately my fervor for oriental cuisine allows me not to make the affront to go get my cutlery. A soldier who speaks a little English even offers me food for the rest of the day.

After a cold start to mark the authority I am generally well received with sometimes even a "welcome to China! What irony! Like once an officer slips me "it's for your safety! After reviewing all the photos on my phone and camera ... of course! But the pinnacle was an officer, who, not speaking a word of English, naturally took me from the world to write down his question on paper, but in Chinese! If only I could explain to him what the expression "it's Chinese" meant for us.

A day with a strong headwind is waiting for me. Some young people on a motorcycle regularly stop to photograph with me. The day is long and difficult. The sun tries to pierce a milky veil in a pearly halo. I find a nook behind a bridge to camp. The veil rises and the light of the setting sun goes through all the variations of color from yellow to violet.

The next day I am awakened by the whistle of a man who works the fields around. He will stay close to me until I have lunch and pack, stoic, watching my every move and refusing my proposals to share my snack. The road takes a right angle and I find myself with the wind in the back and chained the kilometers.

I therefore end a rather trying crossing of this unknown region and I had little information. In addition to the tense political environment and increased repression, the Xianjiang is a pretty hard part to ride. These long straight lines in the middle of a rather desert landscape were particularly surprised to me. It is not less interesting and I let you discover this region in image. 

I thought I would cross the border the next day. But pushed by the wind I reached it in the middle of the afternoon. Added to the increased surveillance around the border of the country, I prefer to go to Mongolia the same day. The Chinese side is naturally provided with several controls and I am much less docile and lovable, my patience arriving slightly to its limits. Mongolian side, a stamp and go!

I drive to Bulgan about fifty kilometers from the border. The road is still paved but the traffic, already not very dense, is becoming scarce and I find the calm of the immensity of the steppes. A warm evening light is always a desert landscape. The wind pushes me and arriving in town a high rocky hill and overflown by a multitude of birds of prey who exploit this wind in a quasi stationary flight, slow and quiet.

I thought to take a break but the rates of the only hotel invite me to take the road the next morning. Always wind back, but not very strong yet, I'm the road that leads me to the East. I take a lunch break in a hut made of some wooden poles half broken, covered with sheet metal that shelter me from the hot sun. I improvise there a nap until being woken by the declining sun whose rays come to lick my skin halted. I hitch my bike under the creaks of the cabin that the wind now very strong does not fail to fly. I leave the road for a secondary school without leaving the tar. I arrive near the bed of a dry river where I planned to establish my camp for the night.

Some yurts proudly enthroned and seem destined to restore passing road and other travelers. Many are not inhabited and I decide to camp under the stars near one of them which offers a flat-faced porch in this universe of rocks.

On the other side of the road there is atmosphere, some young people came on their motorcycle to get drunk. They appeal to me, at first comely, then finally won by an insolent petulance of their libations, they become rather hostile and aggressive. Fortunately they are quick to hit the road on their motorcycles, after recovering one of them half unconscious. It seems that alcohol is a scourge in Mongolia and there were many times I saw drunk men on the verge of coma.

But bad encounters often hide a better one. As I help one of the girls to bring back the water she has just found with a wheelbarrow, the keeper of the yurt returns from his day in the steppes with his flock Goat. Dressed in a traditional salmon pink deel, he has sparkling eyes and an imperceptible smile. He comes to sit near me to share a tea and some biscuits. While smoking in silence, we are joined by a couple of elders, also traditionally draped. The conversation is going well between them. I listen to them silently, imagining words I do not understand from this guttural language. They are happy and will end the conversation in the yurt once I

I take the road after making my water reserves in yurts where women (mother and daughter) are busy milking.

The Mongolia that I cross is always lunar in appearance with immense straight lines that force to meditation and contemplation. The landscapes are linked without much change. However the lack of altitude keeps a discreet scroll of the landscape that gives the feeling of progress. 

I arrive at a village. Refresh the water in a stream under the guidance of young Mongolians and go up the watercourse that traces a valley. The stream comes from a small river where cattle graze. Better to have your stomach hooked. Water brings with it life. Yurts follow one another during my ascent. I am sometimes hailed or stopped, but people are still relatively behind. However in those with whom I exchange some banalities as I can, they are all fascinated by the lighthouse of my bike. To each country its particularity, in Central Asia it was the GPS which attracted the attention. Everyone asked me to see my navigation map, without knowing how to read it in many cases, or even be in their own country. But here the fascination is for this light powered by a dynamo in my front wheel. I camp near the water which is now a trickle of water, a few kilometers downstream of the pass.

Arrived at the top of the pass I take a moment near a famous ovoos. Literally translated as "pile of stone" but whose meaning extends to "owner of the nature", the one to whom nature belongs. Places of worship and offerings that proudly stand up to the sky to communicate with spirits. It is customary to add three stones in order to wish that the trip is without any trouble.

Arrival at the pass
I reach the plain at the foot of the pass after a long and exhilarating descent. I leave the asphalt to cut across the steppe. Fortunately the track continues to descend and I sink easily into an emerald green steppe lit by a pale sun. I find a stream to replenish water and eat a bit. At the end of my snack, the water disappeared, the stream dried up. The next houses being more than one hundred kilometers away, I was almost without water because there is no source on my road to come.

New route
I climb a small jump to reach a plateau. The track splits in two. I have the choice between corrugated iron and sand. Cruel dilemma for a cyclist. But the dog will reach its climax when the two tracks meet again and offer me an association of these two enemies. It will be necessary one day that one explains me to me how such a combination is possible. I continue on a slight descent which allows me to maintain a certain pace despite that I often have to set foot on the sand. I find the plain and the steppe as far as the eye can see. No or little relief now, a desert vastness as far as the eye can see. I camp on the edge of the track in the middle of nowhere, not being too disturbed by traffic.

The only vehicle I will see on this portion is a motorcycle passing all berlingue after dark. His wrapped passengers are quickly swallowed in the darkness of a cool night covered with a creamy light from the full moon.

The next day I continue my route on this track more and more saggy. I'm struggling between the sand and the corrugated iron. The kilometers are long and tedious, the wind against me and makes the progression even more difficult. With my head in the handlebars, I unplug the brain and advance, haggardly, into this sterile immensity. It's probably the hardest part I've had since I left. In the middle of the afternoon I still have not crossed souls who live and I start cruelly to run out of water. I need to find a solution before it becomes problematic. The same goes for my reserves of food that come to exhaustion having found nothing to refuel me. Fortunately I ended up seeing a car in the distance, which looks like a miracle. Its driver is perched on the roof, a long view in hand. He seems to be looking for lost animals. He lets me fill my empty bottles with a tin that drags in his car and allows me to satiate fat donuts and dry cheeses.

I thank him warmly and resume my journey for one last straight line. A second car passed me and slowed down at my height. The man is all smiles, his wife breast-feeds a disheveled baby. They offer me to load my bike to advance me. I would have given everything a few minutes earlier to leave this ordeal. But as my goal approaches and my water problems are resolved, I decline politely since it would probably take us as long to get my horse into their city car as to finish my journey. The man leaves, always smiling, without having forgotten to offer me water. I reach a crossing at the end of the day, after eight hours fighting on my bike. A small stall allows me to refuel for the evening: cake, chocolate, beer. I catch up a little! I set up my camp near the muddy water court, under the onslaught of mosquitoes. This does not prevent me however from enjoying the rest after this crazy day in the warm light of a late afternoon sun that illuminates the plain.

No sooner did I return to the road the next day than a car stops at my level. The whole family watches me with a smile as the woman hastens to fill my bottles of cold tea before leaving. The first problem of the day is solved ... the second solution will come in about thirty kilometers when I left this infernal track and found the asphalt. Finally ! The time to drink greedily tea ... salty. I had forgotten this detail. But the wind has strengthened, I'm stuck to the road. After battling for a moment I yield to temptation and reach out. I finished the last forty kilometers aboard a minibus in the company of a family, the three charming children whose youngest will pass the ride installed on my bike saddle.

I arrive in Altay exhausted by my last two days. I have accumulated twelve consecutive bike days since I left Kazakhstan, and as we say ... a break is needed.

нохой хорио! Mongolia

My day off is disrupted by a program upheaval. It seems that I am not able to extend my Mongol visa because I would have had to register in Ulaanbaatar within seven days, which in my case was impossible. So I have to shorten my planned stay in Mongolia to extend the one in China. But scheduled appointments block me in Beijing and I must find a solution to occupy my days around the Chinese capital, on vacation. Because of reducing the length of stay in Mongolia, I decided to take a transport and to advance the next day of 400 km and avoid a portion of road crashed. Eight hours seem necessary to cross this hell bus. Buying the ticket is not easy in this country where English is unusual. But I think I managed to negotiate a trip for the next day. Indeed a bus to Ulan Bator is on departure the next day when I get to the station, I would have to go down to my chosen destination. We left with a good half hour late, the time to refuel the bus and tank. The coach is decorated with fushia pink curtains and windows topped with pale pink valances. The seats covered with a red-orange cover give a kitsch look. The luggage is mainly stored under the seats, the bunkers being filled with packages. Young children are usually on their knees. We drive about two hours before the first pee stop, in the middle of the steppe. Men are relieving themselves online at the bus exit, while women are moving away from thirty meters to hide summarily behind a small mound of earth. We leave in the smell of cold tobacco that soaked the passengers during their nicotine shoot. After a few kilometers we leave the asphalt for a chaotic track. The bus takes ship movements badly damaged by the swell. The horizon wavers through the windows in the pitching movements of our ship. Added to the vibrations of the carcass as we fly over the corrugated iron. It is also less unpleasant to suffer through the seat fleece than my saddle leather. The eyes are closing little by little. The children are lying across the seats, their heads resting on the knees of strangers. I am fascinated by the

We win a village for a lunch break in the middle of the afternoon. Meanwhile the driver inspects his engine, a noise accompanies us for a while. After being satisfied with the other passengers, I discover that half of the engine is disassembled in the parking lot. Far from being an expert in mechanics, the sight of the radiator disassembled and leaking leads me to think that we are not ready to leave.

Indeed I understand that a second bus was chartered to finish the journey. All we have to do is stay locked inside the roadside restaurant, the rain falling violently, accompanied by gusts of wind. I'm learning the national card game, as I often do. 

After five hours of cardboarding, our new bus arrives. This one is just as colorful but rather in gold tones. We transfer the contents of the bunkers. Finally, especially the others, because I quickly feel like a hair on the soup not understanding too much the instructions in this hustle and bustle in the rain.

Soon the light is out and we are off again in the dark night. The driver tries to catch up by pushing the engine speed, but it will be quickly dissuaded by the vomiting of several passengers. We continue to hurt ourselves for hours.

It is two o'clock in the morning when we arrive at my destination. I am deposited at the exit of the city with all my package under a fine rain. Luckily a passenger with whom I sympathized helps me find a room in a nearby hostel. I fall like a mass after these fifteen hours of travel. A quick glance at the sky early in the morning tells me that I can play overtime. Then when I emerge again later, the sky starts to clear and I start again.

Asphalt road, I left the lunar side in which I evolved a long time. I find a hilly and green Mongolia in which it is equally pleasant to progress. The air is pure, washed of its imperfection by the rain of the day before. The road is much easier. Drivers are also more welcoming, smiling, not hesitating to greet me sometimes with a disconcerting frenzy. But the most characteristic are these many men on their Chinese motorcycle, often dressed in their traditional and colorful deel. I evolve with lightness, probably thanks to the rest and the gaiety of heart that wins me. These landscapes are in every way representative of the image of Mongolia that I was looking for. The kind of day where everyone smiles ... where everyone smiles.

Arrived at Narinteel I find a yurt that offers a few snacks for passengers passing buses. I can enjoy a plate of Buuzs-the equivalent of Kyrgyz mantis-freshly prepared. The family is smiling, loving without a doubt. I also attend the preparation of Tsuivan, a spicy dish made of fresh pasta. First pre-cooked in the form of thin slices, then carefully cut into thin slices with a chopper. Each has its place.

I camp near the river not far, where a dark, brownish water flows, silently waving under the setting sun.

I take the road by a small ascent which ends with a plateau where I am greeted by torrents of water. Then there are ribs and descents in an immense and infinite landscape. But the road remains pleasant despite the prevailing wind.

The next day it is the same wind, forcing, that compels me to shorten my day. I arrive at Arvayheer stunned by the squalls that rang me all day long. I take advantage of a hotel to recharge the batteries. I meet three very nice Swiss who travel with the family (the father and his two sons) and motorbike. This allows me to reconnect with the world of travelers I lost from Kyrgyzstan. The next day the weather is clear and the wind has stopped. I swallow the first twenty kilometers in the hour. Those I planned to do the day before and that would have taken more than two hours because of the wind. I leave the main road to plunge into the steppe by a dirt track. The road is easy since no corrugated iron or sand. After a pause in the intoxicating silence of these countries, I enter a valley. An end stream meanders in the middle of a greasy grass, creating some ponds where come to drink yaks and horses. A few flocks of goats and sheep scattered on the flanks graze peacefully.

The yurts are arranged at regular intervals, traditionally leaning against the mountain or on a bute. Turning back to the slope and watching the river heading south. It will not be necessary to pray to establish my camp for the night. After being greeted by some drunken nomads to share a few bowl of Aïrag, fermented milk mare, I advance a few kilometers to find a quieter corner. The yurt near which I am is uninhabited, but the presence of a horse tells me that the owners are not far. You do not usually knock on the door of a yurt. One enters there after having announced himself orally: нохой хорио literally means "hold your dog".

нохой хорио! Mongolia

They will arrive in the middle of the night, probably after going shopping at the nearest village. The ageless couple greets me in the morning for a hearty breakfast made of salty tea, fresh bread and cream collected during the fermentation of the milk.

I continue the next day to get out of the valley to reach an agrarian expanse. Irrigation is here organized and I sometimes lose my way around a field, cultivated or fallow. It seems that we still respect the concept of fallow here. Then I found the asphalt a few kilometers from Kharkhorin where I intend to stop. Suuvd welcomes me to her yurt camp, which she runs with her family. I finally have a little advance and prefer not to arrive too early in Ulaanbaatar, which is not described to me as most exceptional. I enjoy a first day of rest in the pouring rain. Then two more days chatting with tourists, update my logbook and do some sightseeing. Kharkhorin is the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire under the regime of Genghis Khan. 

I leave the city from the north to reach Ogii Nuur. A lake that mainly serves as a seaside resort. The yurt camps are deserted with the end of the season. But some tourists from the capital are here to enjoy the peace and the fishing. I arrive in the late afternoon and established my camp on its banks.

I have to pedal about thirty kilometers to reach an asphalt road that will take me directly to the capital. The landscapes change slowly. After a rather green area, I now evolve through moderate reliefs whose grass scorched little by little. The hue of the environment takes on an autumnal appearance as summer draws to a close. The road is easy and I progress easily. I enjoy roadside restaurants to restore traditional Mongolian cuisine. The few streams that ply these plains allow me to establish my camp on a greasy and soft grass near the horses grazing quietly. Gradually, the weather is deteriorating, bringing storms that tarnish this silent and motionless world a little more.

After two days of regular showers, the blue takes a little ground in the sky. The last scattered clouds reveal a radiant sun that warms the steppe. The temperature has drastically dropped in recent days, winter is definitely approaching. My road joins the southern main road. I am quickly accompanied by vehicles that join the capital. Once again the respect of the cyclist leaves something to be desired. Mongolians generally drive well beyond the speed limit and do not hesitate to overtake with minimum distance. I leave this perilous axis a hundred kilometers before Ulaanbaatar. I fork on a small track to pass through a national park where live the last wild horses of Mongolia. Relieved to leave the traffic, I still disillusion quickly because the track becomes totally silted. I push my bike for several kilometers under the assault of regular storms. Then the lining of the track changes to turn clay made slippery by the showers. I slip and I wade in puddles for a moment. The mud quickly clogged up my mudguards and brakes. So I have to unclog the whole before I can get on my bike again under the last rays of the day.  

The park is much more laid out than I envisioned. The entrance is equipped with a gigantic camp of yurts to welcome tourists. The sight of some buses and off-road does not delight me. But the welcome is warmest. I am allowed to camp on the edge of the park and use the amenities. A hot shower, a cold beer...! If I expected it!

After a breakfast with a group of French I take the road through the park. A bitter wind sweeps the protected expanse that I cross without crossing a living soul. Like Cappadocia in Turkey, the fact that visitors are channeled and concentrated by motorized vehicles, calm reigns outside the organized circuits. I can see from a distance some horses that I let graze without coming near before joining a new valley.  

I have to disinfect my bike at the exit of the park without understanding why. But the people in charge of the operation are very surprised to see me here where no tourists pass. They invite me to share a Tsuivan that the women finish to prepare. 

I follow the Tuul River, which meanders through the plain. I arrive at an intersection between two tracks. On my right hand is a path that is supposed to cross the three arms of the watercourse that has divided in this place. I was well aware that it would be impossible to bike this season: nothing to arouse my curiosity! I turn off towards the river. After a few kilometers I reach the first arm. I probe the cloudy water and find myself quickly immersed until mid thigh. In the category of bad ideas! Not inclined to turn back I wade in several times all of my package. I only hope that the next will not be deeper. Same scenario for the second stream. I meet a woman, who guides me through crossing into the other way. The water here also until mid thigh, it changes without shame after crossing. Mongolians are generally not very modest. Her husband is waiting to accompany her to their yurt. They both move away on their Chinese motorbike through the grasslands. A common scene that I could observe during my crossing, the bike having taken a leading part in the transport in Mongolia.

Fortunately the third segment has a bridge. But before reaching it I am hailed by a couple. Off track, they bogged their vehicle in a mud while trying to cross a stream. We try to push the vehicle but we are not able to extract it completely. Help seems to be on the way. I prepare a tea without salt. But unfortunately our rescuers are blocked because of puncture. So we continue our waiting playing card. After a while, two guys come out of the thickets draped in a traditional deel. They try to keep horses apparently not yet trained.

After attaching their animals, they come to lend us a hand. We finally manage to get the car out of his fate. The young couple invites me to load my bike to join the village and offer me hospitality. We stop on the way to help repair the tubes of our supposed rescuers with the tires of their (two) flat bikes. I am welcomed in a traditional yurt, with the left place reserved for the guests. As usual the meal is hearty and the vodka generous. Some of their friends join us for the evening. 

I say goodbye in the early morning when the whole community has joined us. I'm always walking along the river, full of yellowed willows, hard to think I'm a few miles from the city. 

After a jump, I finally see the capital that I overlook. Ulaan Bator stands like a boil in the middle of the steppe. The sight of this polluted agglomeration after these days spent in nature is not very pleasant. A cloud emerges from the two main coal power plants located in the middle of the city. The weather is not good, which gives an even duller shade to this vision. 

Traffic is quickly very dense and air little breathable but I finally reach my base. Undral runs a very nice little hostel on the outskirts of the city center. A French couple (traveling for more than years) is preparing an apple-rhubarb crumble. Nothing like home to feel like home. 

I then go for a meal in the city center. I meet a friend from Serre Chevalier, with a small expatriate group for the evening. Kim, who has been living in the city for almost a year, managed to get me a contact for the physio on hand project. This was not an easy task since physiotherapy is a nascent profession in the country, with only one school that has not yet produced its first graduates. Also, teaching seems to remain very focused on traditional medicine for lack of Western influence. 

Sol, a Filipino physiotherapist who has been in Ulaanbaatar for almost ten years, will have the opportunity to present me the situation the next day.  

On Sunday, I manage to join a group to go near Terelj, in the eponymous national park, not far from the capital. A camp of yurts offers here horseback riding and I will have the opportunity to ride a few hours through the yellowing larch and a landscape that is lost on the horizon. 

On my return, another friend of Serre Chevalier whom I meet again, Sophie, coincidentally that our paths cross just at this moment. 

The next day Kim invites me to accompany him in the district of yurts, far from the buildings of the city center. Kim leads an architectural project in Ulaanbaatar. She conceptualized a yurt with a low environmental impact while respecting the traditional aspect.

нохой хорио! Mongolia

In winter, the Mongolian capital is at the top of the list of the most polluted cities in the world far ahead of Beijing. A particle concentration of up to five times the dangerous limit set by WHO.

Most of this population comes from burning coal to heat these poorly insulated yurts. In addition to architecture, Kim has integrated many aspects of local life into her project, making it complete and exciting. The opportunity also for me to discover these little-known neighborhoods of tourism and which nevertheless represents two-thirds of the population. Unpaved roads, no sanitation, the supply of drinking water is often done through wells ... A totally different atmosphere. 

Last days for me at the capital. I naturally find some travelers crossed earlier and others to find later. I am waiting to take the train to head south and begin a journey across mainland China on the East Coast before reaching Southeast Asia.

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