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Mongolia – Britton Adventures steppes up

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This entry is part 7 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #23

“This is amazing,” enthused Alan Hall, spreading his arms to indicate the wide-open expanse of the Mongolian steppes, “Why didn’t you make me come here years ago?”

Mike and Angela of Britton Adventures had been trying for years to get Alan Hall to join them on a tour of Mongolia. When they finally succeeded in dragging him off his Raglan, NZ, farm he was clearly ecstatic at the Mongolian landscape and culture the ride uncovered.

“We knew Alan would love the riding, the people and the rural culture of Mongolia,” said Mighty Mike Britton.

“We just had to get him to part with some money, find someone to look after his farm, and join us,” he laughed.

Hall marks

Alan Hall made no effort to hide his amazement and wonder.

“The highlight for me was the Mongolian crew,” he Kiwied. “I wasn’t expecting to have a whole entourage of Mongolian crew looking after us.

“This was my first dealing with people outside the western world and I just loved the interaction.

“The Mongolian crew were really friendly, and as fascinated by us as we were by them. They liked to have a vodka or three with us, and even though many of them didn’t speak English, we still had lots of laughs. I really enjoyed their sense of fun.”

Alan described the ride logistics as ‘a moving roadshow’ and was impressed with the level of support, including several vehicles carrying camping gear, bike parts, spare fuel, beer, dining tent, tables, food, a freezer, and, as Alan puts it, “Just bloody everything.”

Taking Mongolian kids for a very slow putt around.

All talk

As well as the drivers, the support crew included cook Boldera, her helper Nada, Buyan the mechanic, a Mongolian motocross champion in his youth, young Bolor, the translator who moved easily between the two cultures and was really helpful bridging the gap between east and west, and Munko, the fantastic and funny lead rider. Mike and Angela often refer to him as a ‘human GPS’ due to his ability to tell one seemingly indistinct Mongolian valley from another.

Munko had lived in Australia so spoke some English which helped with communication as well.

“We just weren’t expecting to have a whole entourage looking after us,” beamed Hall. “We were treated so well.

Buyan would fill your bike the minute you got off, and there, in the middle of nowhere, would be a dining tent the drivers had put up. Inside it there would be a big table, chairs and everything. Then Boldera and Nada would come out with this fantastic food – it was just amazing. For me the crew made the trip.”

“The food for the whole trip was bloody amazing. Mike and Angela had said the food was a bit basic, but I loved it. There were hearty casseroles when we stayed at the ger camps, and, for lunches and when we camped, our own cook made excellent food like burgers and spaghetti bolognaise.”

Nomadic settlements are dotted across the steppes.

Wing man

While everyone else in the group rode Yamaha WRFs, Alan, a Honda aficionado, opted to ride the only one available, a trusty XR400. With his excellent wheel-standing skills on show at every opportune moment, and because mechanic Buyan had ridden for Honda as a motocrosser, Alan became a bit of a favourite with the crew.

“The drivers, even though they couldn’t speak English, would come and pat me on the back and say ‘Honda, good!’, and give me a thumbs-up sign. Yeah, I reckon me and the XR were the crew favourites!”

In the middle of nowhere would be a dining tent with a big table, chairs and everything.

Ring ins

Towards the end of the trip some other Mongolians – friends of Munko’s – joined the tour. Angela and Mike knew some of them, including Oggi the former champion sumo wrestler, and Batsaikhan, a bit of a dude in a Mongolian Snoop-Dogg kind of way. At the ger camp these guys arranged to cook a traditional Mongolian meal called Khorhog. It’s a bit like a hangi because rocks, heated by fire, are used to cook the food. The rocks are then put in a very large pressure cooker which looks a bit like a cream can.

Then cut-up mutton, vegetables, and water are added and the whole thing is sealed under pressure for a few hours.

The general consensus was ‘delicious’.

Some drinking and arm wrestling, complete with mutton-greasy hands, finished off a great evening.

A successful conclusion to another great tour.

Mixed bag

As well as lead rider Munko and Mike Britton riding sweep, the group included an assortment of Kiwis from Christchurch to Kerikeri, a couple of Aussies, and even one Brit. Just to provide a cultural bridge was Kev, a Brit-Aussie, from who the bikes were hired. Kev said he loved going riding with the Mike and Angela’s customers because they know how to ride. There were many laughs during the tour, and lots of good-natured banter between the Kiwis and Aussies and there seemed to be an unspoken agreement not to pick on Ant, the lone Brit, too much.

On the final night, after a celebratory dinner with most of the crew, some friends of young Bolor took everyone out and about on the town. Oh the stories that could be told about that night! But what happens on tour, stays on tour unless it ends up on Facebook!

“The riding was great! Fantastic! Bloody brilliant!” bellowed Hall.

“Really though, you need to go and experience it for yourself.”

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