Gorno Altaysk (again)
I had a very tough decision to take today.
The events of yesterday had left me pretty much confused and talking that evening with people who know what they dealing with, made me realize I was overstepping my capacities. Six huge eyes looked at me when I said I had to be in Ulaan Bataar by Friday. "Maybe on Saturday if you start pushing very hard" was their reply.
I am no no state to push really hard.
So in my case I would arrive on Monday, if everything went well.
I would be to late in Vladivostok to cross the Pacific as a consequence. This meant that I had to let go Mongolia. And that's what I did. At about 11:00 I said goodbye the my German companions and turned westbound. Back to Russia with a lot of pain in my heart for sure.
I drove as slow as possible and I grabbed every opportunity to take pictures. When I crossed another biker, I stalked him as long as possible.
There was a Finnish guy and later an Israeli, who was very cross with his navigator. It didn't seem to work. I can understand his feelings in front of Mongolia. But he did ask me to team up and travel together. For a brief moment I was tempted, but no. To cut a long story short, at 17:00 I was back in Russia, only having driven 150 km and a lot of waiting at the borders.
Skulls are everywhere, hundreds of them are laying on the side of the roads. It seems they are thrown there for good luck by Mongolian people. Even though the eastern part of Mongolia is Muslim, Shamanism is certainly a great part of their religion. As it is in Altai.
Everywhere you find prove of this, mostly these skulls and ribbons on the trees at a popular spot. None of this can be touched of course, it might break the luck they are looking for.
I hadn't made any bookings for an hotel once back in Russia. So I decided to go in the direction of the same hotel where I stayed two days ago. Only, it is 500 km further away.
No matter, president Putin has taken care of the Altai region. For sure there will be a nice spot to spent the night, preferably with Banja. ( = local sauna) The winding mountain roads are a good test to see my tyre is ok, I was thinking. And so I did. A few times a lost the front for a short moment on the slippery molten tar, but apart from that, all O.K. And I really stressed the tyres. Slowly my confidence came back.
I caught the momentum, the will to make the whole trip to Gorno Altaysk. And so I arrived there at 22:00, shortly after sunset.
This is the result of not trowing skulls or knotting ribbons. A car had crashed a few 100 meter below the road, probably years ago the way it looks.
But always a strong reminder of what can happen on mountain roads. I did slow down a bit, but only for a short while...