Spending three weeks at home gave me the chance to reload the batteries, work through the materials, show some pictures @ the BMW Motorrad Days Garmisch and to earn some money. But it is very good to be back in Mongolia, together with my wife Corinna (Joop had to go back to work).
The bikes are covered in dust, but aside that, we just had to grease the chains and to change the tires. Well, only the front tires since I got the wrong rear tire size delivered to Ulan Baatar. No problem, the rear tires are still OK - This MITAS E-09 DAKAR tire is really amazing. So I sell the wrong rears to some other riders and we leave Ulan Baatar very early in the morning since I do not want to spent the first day back on the bikes in the middle of the suicidal Mongolian traffic.
We make it out of the town very easy and on our way to Ulan Ude (Russia) we are only stopped for 4 hours at the mongolian border - before leaving Mongolia we had to temporarily import the bikes to Mongolia (in order to be able to leave the country without the bikes). Since I did not feel like spending an other day in the Mongolian customs building in Ulan Baatar, to export the bikes, I decided to do that at the border. Bad idea! But after 4 hours we can leave the country and we are reaching Ulan Ude just before the sun goes down and the rain sets in. All hotels are fully booked, only one of the most expensive one‘s has a room left: In floor 14; bike parking up the front stairs.
The weather on our way to lake Baikal is not the finest, but the beauty of the road makes it OK. Cruising through dark forest on a nice road with lake Baikal blinking through the trees. Traffic picks up a little as we reach the shore of the lake and we are having a coffee at a place at the south cape of the lake where I was having a coffee 10 years ago. Funny.
A huge traffic jam was created by a closed railway crossing - no problem for us. As the train passes, we are at position one. At our arrival in Irkutsk, it is sunny and hot and every hotel is full. A helpful lady and the owner of the hotel restaurant at one of the bigger hotels are finding a solution for us: There is a guesthouse 3 blocks away, we can use the guarded hotel parking lot and we are invited for dinner. The guesthouse is easy to find, they have a 2 room flat for us - in the 5th floor and no elevator...
It is sometimes very funny for me to see what changed within the ten years since I have been in this area. The beautiful, dusty road going to the island Olchon is perfectly paved now, but the breathtaking view when you are coming over the last hill before the ferry dock has still the same magic. Since it is Friday afternoon, the line of cars waiting for the ferry transfer is almost 6 kms long. We pass the line and get on the second ferry coming. Nothing changed here: Every vehicle drives on the ferry as normal, but since the rear door is broken, everybody has to leave the ferry backwards... Thankfully we are pushed over the ramp by some of the ferry guys.
Good, the road on the island is still not paved! Nice and sandy with some alternative tracks left and right... The town Kushir has changed a lot. Ten years ago it was a small town with some wooden houses, now it is a big town with big buildings and holiday resorts. In 2005 they become electricity and from that moment on the development started. We stay at Nikita‘s guesthouse - he was already there 2003. Without the bikes we are doing a little excursion to the „Shaman rock“. It really feels like holidays, ups, it is holiday!
Next morning we leave the island and I am getting more excited with every kilometer we ride: Finally, we are getting in the direction of the BAM. At the T-junction coming from Olchon, we have the choice: Turn left direction Irkutsk or turn right direction BAM. We fill up the bikes, have an energy drink and a Snickers and turn right.