Mud is a big problem in Mongolia as we discovered in a small village in the Khan Khentii Protected Area. After driving for two days on what should have been a scenic round-trip we stumbled upon a small village nestled in a valley alongside a beautiful winding river. Every track into the village was a 1½ metre deep worn channel in the landscape, resembling a muddy canal. Each trench was filled with about a metres depth of brown muddy water and with no way of telling what was underneath, a long muddy stick was found to feel how solid the bottom was. Trudging about in the pouring rain trying to find a route through this forested quagmire was about as much fun as it sounds. After an hour we had travelled about 500 metres and arrived at the other side of the village.
Little did we know that the only route out of the village on the other side was through a river! The heavy rains had turned what was typically a straight forward 40m long 1m deep river crossing into a raging impassable torrent. We questioned a few locals about our options and were met by a friendly Ox cart driver who told us to wait whilst he fetched his son who would help us out the village.
We sat for about 20 minutes and weighed up the situation then the Ox cart driver returned with his son. We followed them about 40m further up the riverbank until we came across a path that entered the river. Through some serious gesticulating we came to the conclusion that the plan was that Emma would travel across on the back of the Ox cart and the cart drivers son would drive Bee-Bee behind. We looked at the river, looked at each other and independently decided that under no circumstances we were going to let this Mongolian drive our beloved Bee-Bee into the river. We communicated with the Ox cart driver that we didn’t really think the plan was feasible and were met with a tirade of abuse (we think). In an attempt to prove us wrong he furiously whipped his Ox and attempted to cross the river. As soon as the Ox realised the depth of the water was well over head height it promptly turned around and exited the water much to our amusement.
We then spent an hour driving out of “Mudville” the way we entered it and the next day retracing our route.