We (actually me) spent the morning procrastinating about our departure. Showers, email updates, talking to all the other travelers at the guesthouse. But eventually I accepted Nina's argument that we needed to start towards the Russian-Mongolian border so that we were in a position to cross into Russia tomorrow as the Mongolian side of the border might be closed Wednesday for the national Naadam festival. So eventually we manouvered our way out through the guesthouse gate, changed most of our Mongolian money into Russia roubles at one of the towns bank and then hit the road towards the town of Tsagaanuur.
To our surprise the first 20km or so, of the road was paved and we delighted in the experience of driving on smooth bump free roads. A short distance out of Olgii we were stopped by a checkpoint of some kind where our name and vehicle details were recorded in a book and the wheels of the truck sprayed with some kind of chemicals. Perplexing.
Eventally the nice road gave out and we were directed onto a typical Mongolian set of wheel tracks in the steppes. Though we could see that the road base for the new road continued, it was just not yet ready for traffic.
At the top of one particularly steep climb we met a German couple in an overland truck who had crossed from Russia earlier in the day and they confirmed that the Monglian border would be closed for 5 days starting Wednesday. So I was thankful that Nina had insisted we get started today.
We passed Tsagaanuur and started towards the border on reasonable gravel road and met another European couple in a Unimog expedition camper who had also crossed from Russia earler in the day. This confirmed that we needed to be close to the border tonight to ensure we got all the way across tomorrow.
Eventually we stopped about 10km from the border and found a nice patch of grass about 1 km from the road and settled in for the afternoon. However not long after we stopped a young man on a horse dropped in and then soon after a man on a motorcycle with his two kids. We did the usual sociable thing, sweets for the kids and a tour of the vehicle. However they did not seem to want to leave us and so eventually we decided the only way to get some solitude was to move on.
A few kms down the road we came to a small community and after a brief discussion with a man in uniform discovered that this was the Mongolian part of the border crossing, that the crossing was now closed, and would open again tomorrow morning at 10:00am.
While we sat in the truck deciding what to do a veritable stream of traffic arrived from the Russian side of the border with the intent of entering Mongolia. The traffic consisted of many fuel tank trucks (Mongolia gets its fuel from Russia), a number of tourist on motorcycles and 4 tourists in verious types of vehicles. A Quebec couple in a F250 and truck camper, a French couple in a Toyota Troupie, someone in a late model Jeep Wrangler and later in the evening a single man in an old European motorhome built on a Mercedes van chassis.
While Nina handed out sweets to the hord of local kids I contemplated what to do for our nights accomodation.
I happened to spot a "hotel" with a large fenced yard and noticed that a lady in a blue hat seemed to belong to that hotel. So after a brief sign-language discussion I was helping her open the gate and then squeezing the truck through the gate into the yard.
We spent the remainder of the evening watching the antics of the local people, the many truck drivers that had arrived (with their loaded vehicles) from Russia and the many recalcitrant yaks and their frustrated owners.