Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake (Тэрхийн Цагаан нуур)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Today was a day of leisure. We got up latish and had a wonderful breakfast prepared by the Fairfield Guesthouse. Caroline had a lattee, surprise surprise. Over breakfast we broke out the map and had yet another look at various routes and options. Ivor and clan decided to head South, and a fine plan indeed. We decided to chance the northern route based on the recent success of Bermuda Rover and the good weather in the last 24 hours. At a minimum we knew the road to Tsagaan Nuur was good.We topped up the water tank and the fuel tank in preparation of being off the grid for a while. We had yet another goodbye session with Kim, Vaughan, Merryn and Andrew and bid them a safe journey. It was fast approaching 11am and it was time we hit on the road. It was beautiful sunshine as we left Tsetserleg.

As we reached the city limits there was a toll booth and as is typical after paying a toll, the road condition suddenly deteriorates. In this case we had a bumpy gravel road. Fortunately this lasted for only 6kms and then abruptly transitioned back to a very fine and almost pot-hole free sealed road lasting for 110kms. Average speed was around 80-90kph on the good road. We just cruised the highway enjoying the magnificent scenery and wide open spaces. At one point there was around 20 to 30 birds of prey feeding on some poor dead animal. In the mix there were some mighty huge vultures. The last 50kms or so was off-piste as a new road was being constructed and traffic was just going freestyle on the grassy plains. There were many existing tracks to choose from and they all headed in basically the same direction creating no real confusion. Enjoyed this very much. Average speed was around 35-40kph. Once we reached Tariat we were very pleased to see gas stations, and filled up yet again. Our plan was to fill up whenever we could.

Although the weather was beautiful and sunny, there was still a strong wind and we decided against camping and the hassle that would involve. So we searched for a Tourist Camp and a warm Ger for the night. We found Maikhan Tolgoi on the edge of Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake (also known as Tsagaan Nuur or Great White Lake). Officially the tourist camp was not open yet and was still in the process of building their Gers, but some were finished and Oyuna (whose family owns the camp) invited us in anyway. Turned out we were their first guests for the season. This was our first Ger stay and we were quite impressed. What made it so nice was everyone was so helpful and welcoming.

With Oyuna, manager of Maikhan Tolgoi Ger Camp.

The Ger had two simple beds, small table and chairs the centerpiece being a small wood burning fire. And did that little fire pump out the heat, a little too much actually. Because the toilet block was not functional yet, we asked where a good place was to wash our hands. Next thing you know, someone turns up with a portable sink and vanity unit. Wow!

We went for a lovely evening stroll along the lake road. This is really a beautiful place. Pity it is just so windy. Dinner was in and we cooked on our little Ger stove. The night sky was mostly clear with bright stars and we expected a cold but not freezing night. Our goal for tomorrow is Jargalant, some 80kms to the north.

A word on our Jerry Cans. A little research the night before on the Internet identified the source of our leaking Jerry Can problem. Basically they are a not designed to hold fuel unless the ridiculous spout is attached. And in our case, we can’t attach the ridiculous spout because of how our Jerry Can holder works, so essentially the cans we have cease to become Jerry Cans and instead turn into dead weight. Oh well. There might be a way to seal them up once we get to a bigger town and a hardware store. The good news is that we probably do not need to carry extra fuel while in Mongolia as there are gas stations everywhere.

Our Ger for the night.