Cool morning, plenty of dew on meadow grass, rocks with lichen. Off towards Moron (sure to be some radio fun with that name!). Bitumen ran out, rough tracks, deep ruts and holes. Beautiful flat plains, ringed by mountains, yaks and herd animals, overloaded trucks carrying daggy wool.
Stopped at Moron for fuel, bread and water, watched a man hacking up an animal and hanging it in a tree in the main street. Had morning tea on outskirts near cemetery (“dead set Morons”). Found goat skull.
Good bitumen road north of town towards Khatgal and the Lakes. Khovskol Nuur Lake is known as Baikal’s sister, 136km long, 262m deep, holding up to 2% of world’s fresh water. We think the lenok and sturgeon are calling Guy’s fishing rod... Stormy sky with lightening ahead. Have read of Deer Stones west of Moron, plan to see them on way back. Drove past small lakes/ reservoirs, plenty of evidence of pine tree logging; plethora of new log cabins going up in all towns.
Met Dava at the info centre, she will take sheets and towels washing, "no more than 30,000TGs" (ouch!) runs ger camp, has good English, trained for tourism in UK. This finger of the Lake is only a taste of what’s further up the track, but it’s such a pretty azure blue! Bought a large rump at the outdoor meat stall - as usual, we were as much of interest to locals as they were to us.
Oh no, oh no, oh no! Just turned onto the track up the west side of the Lake and we've broken the passenger side front hanger spring at forward U-bolt!! There will be no mention of the first half hour following...the only consolation was how fortunate that we were still in town. Back to Dava for advice. 8hrs later the Mongolian mechanic she recommended, and his mates in a water truck, and our three fellows had cut and welded Miles' 2nd hand spring on to broken top spring from front scroll to 200mm behind rear U bolt, using a variety of tools, knowhow, muscles and a winch to get us functional enough to go back to Moron in the morning and source either a better 2nd hand spring (eg truck) or order one (from UB? from Russia? from Australia???), and if the latter, we will have an enforced stay in Khovskol aimag (and yes, not the worst location in the world).
The Mongol Mechanic was a merry soul when he wasn't swearing or smoking, and he charged us 400000TG, then laughed at foreigners, and gave half back! Fortunately the brewing storm also went around us, but 'twas 9.00pm and getting dark by that time, and (following a visit by a wandering horseman) it was 10.00pm before everything was sorted into the three guys toolboxes, and we could get at our lockers and into the truck to start dinner. Gave up the salami pasta on the chopping board in favour of a quick toasted cheese sandwich and hot cocoa. We all camped where we were right beside the road.