In Altai I had time to think and decided on a change of plans. I now was planning to follow the south route to Ulaanbaatar. The original plan was to cycle north from Altai to Uliastai. Due to being in the winter of Mongolia I decided on the easier and shorter southern route Altai, Bayankhongor, Arvaikheer, Lun, Ulaanbaatar. Easy is a perception of the circumstances and experience.
Photos from this part of Mongolia can be seen here: The south route to Ulaanbaatar
After being sick from food poisoning in Altai I left knowing that the south route to Ulaanbaatar would bring less experiences and desert landscape. The first 130km was paved out of Altai and with a down hill I cycled that until an abrupt end of pavement and back on dirt tracks. Camped in the desert, had a cold night at -28c was still not 100% after being sick so was tough. I woke up early the next day as I knew there was 65km of desert to next village and I wanted to get there. Taking down the tent with a wind and -26c was a nice start to the day. Actually I was not enjoying myself a this point, looking back mainly of being tired and stressed about getting to Bayankhongor but looking back is easy. That morning I decided that if I could get a lift I would take the lift. Well no cars and a head wind was all I got that day. I arrived in Buurtsagan in the dark tired and cold. I asked in a ger where I could sleep and the older man from the family took me to a small hotel of a kind. Here I had to wait for the owner to come and unlock a room. I was down to my socks, no energy after cycling 10hours with a head wind on gravel/sand roads and around -14c to -18c all day. To my surprise they also had a small restaurant were I got a big portion of meat and noodles Mongolian style, this helped on my mood and energy levels. I had great doubts of the coming 200km to Bayankhongor and the weather would be the same and the roads as bad… This is a mind game as I had to evaluate the options and stay safe. The next morning the weather looked okay and I was feeling better in body and mind. So I packed up and left. The weather was better, the road was still sand, gravel and rock well I was positive willing to give it a go. Bombogor a village 75km ahead was a goal but I knew I wouldn’t make it in a day.