Sain Bain uu* Morgan, what’s up?
All’s well, I’m glad to be in this great country after the winter. The week I arrived in Ulan Bator it was very cold, and summer came along with my first group. We now have sun and the temperatures are varying from 25 to 35 degrees Celsius. Everyone tells me it’s abnormally hot for the season and the nomads are fearing a forthcoming drought. Climate change affects everyone around the world.
*Hello in mongol
Who are the members of Vintage Rides team this year?
We have our amazing mechanic Ghana, who rode this winter in Khovsghol with the Frozen Ride team. His brother Gambat is on a training scheme with us. We’ll need him when Baptiste and I have to guide two groups at the same time. Our driver Lala drives the traditional Uaz; he’s followed by Oonoo who drives the Land Cruiser. This is the second vehicle we have to follow groups, a more comfortable car. If the passengers want to avoid any stages or fords, they can keep warm and listen to some music, and above all benefit from better suspension than in the Uaz! These logistics are only for groups of more than 4 or 5 people, otherwise we start only with Lala and his Waz. Of course, Baptiste is here, now into his third season as guide. We share tours this summer, and we’ll meet on the road.
Anything new with the motorcycles? You also have sidecars now, could you tell me more about that?
Our fleet since 2013 has been made up of 10 Machismo 500cc bikes, but 10 others joined this year. This is great, as it allows us to permanently have 4 sides, the famous “baskets” of our friend and partner Jean Burdet.
At the end of July, I’ll guide a group of 4 sides and 5 motorcycles. Jean will be there to bring up the rear! I can’t wait, and even if I’m a hardcore fan of two-wheels, I hope I’ll be able to have a bit of fun with the sides!
Last March, these machines really overcame the cold on the Frozen Ride, showing they were sturdy and could be taken along a frozen lake. We’re all waiting impatiently for the film to be released - the adventure will be more cozy viewed from our couch than in real life!
How did your first tour go?
The beginning and the end of the season are always the moments that I love most. We are the first to reach the camps, we see everybody starting to prepare the summer. We arrive at the right time to witness all the activity: the way they can assemble and dismantle yurts in a few hours is incredible! And then, as often the nomads haven’t seen anyone throughout the winter, they’re even more welcoming. With the first group, we experienced an impressive sandstorm on one of the last days before joining Ulan Bator. We went to shelter a few hours with some nomads to wait for the weather to calm down. Luckily enough, we ended up in a warm yurt with traditional musicians: a beautiful moment shared together and an unexpected one that will be remembered forever.
Any advice for people who want to ride in Mongolia with us?
This is the second season that I’ve been working this destination, and I’ve noticed two preconceptions which are very much in the minds of people who come here for the first time. Luckily after the trip everyone agrees!
- "Um, Mongolia, I don’t know, I feel like it's monotonous, it’ll always be the same." No, Mongolia is not only about the steppe. On the contrary, the landscapes are very diverse. You can find everything: canyons, rivers, forests, volcanoes, lakes, desert, mountains etc.
- "We don’t eat well in Mongolia, why travel for 15 days to eat sheep and drink fermented mare's milk ..." This isn’t true. In Ulan Bator there’s a great gastronomic diversity, many restaurants, and you can find anything in the supermarkets. And as soon as we go on the steppe, we sleep in yurt camps which have made great efforts in recent years to satisfy the palate of foreign travellers, with a wide range of fruit juices, vegetables and western dishes. Vegetarians can have a wonderful time in Mongolia too, without any problem. What’s also true is that there’s always a lot of vodka!
Who is this destination suitable for?
For everybody! It's hard to say, as my groups are always heterogeneous, with people from very different horizons. But I think that most of all, riders come here in search of nature and freedom! In Mongolia, the terrain allows me to do things differently: I take a track and behind me, always keeping an eye on the riders, I let them take their own path, "make their own trace". There are no roads, no barriers, no limits. There’s only in Mongolia that you can ride like that!