Thursday, October 11, 2012

Outer Mongolia by Time Lapse Photography

For anyone who has experienced travel in outer Mongolia. 

Once you visit and travel outer Mongolia, you will know that some experiences can change you in ways that others destinations on holidays cannot. The Earth in it's organic form, mixed with domesticated horses, sheep, goats, yaks and camels and the people, Nomadic and living in tents on the surface of the arid grassland Steppe - is all an incredible and raw world of experience -is Mongolia.

From a mountain bike [photos below] I gained valuable insights into life far outside my comfort zone. While Nomad Mongolians have existed for centuries on these pasture lands located between Russia, China and outer Mongolia's western Kazakh populations living just hundreds of kilometers from Kazakhstan [photo 1] their land is deeply connected to their daily life survival.

Through a collection of videos, I hope to share more of the experiences others shared while in this geographical and culturally rich landscape. I hope to return one day, but for now - I have lasting memories that have already began to change the way I see contrasts throughout the world around me.

End of the journey. A felt a huge sigh of relief completing the solo expedition in Mongolia this summer. After visiting with Mongol Rally drivers, motorcyclists, and other overland travellers like Dimitri the Russian American from New York putting down a cup of Ghenghis Gold Vodka (half way), I refilled my spirits in Olgii with more travellers after a few days recovering just before completing the expedition in Bayan-Olgii Province. 

I made it. With a mountain bike, a few bags of equipment, a tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping mat, water bottles with 9L capacity (taking on two 1.5L bottles on the front panniers) and at the end, I had run out of nearly everything I was carrying, at times it was water, antibiotics, powered protein for two months, multivitamin mega-packs, dried Mongolian "arroz" cheese shared by Nomad families and returned to a family with 6 children much without their own provisions, and the Nutella I scraped clean with my bare fingers, even my knife which I gave to a Dörvöd Mongolian on the final stretch to Altai Mountains wedged between Russia's Siberia and China's western frontiers. I had been ill from some contaminated streams that all the local children were using between sits with boiled (and healthier) chai-woo, their salted milk tea made from local stream water, goat or yaks milk and herbs. The days 8-12 hours grew longer with the bike, either ridden or trekked while pushing the cycle alongside me.
At times, it felt like an increasingly difficult journey alone with a mountain bike. 

Not that it ever felt impossible because I was always too close to the land, near to the Mongolian people and their flocks of animals. The organic lands, the distant dirt tracks that end at Altai Taven-Bogd National Park 2499km distant from my start in the capital of Ulaanbaatar was overwhelming and inviting at the same time. 

2499km of expedition mountain bike touring is probably XXX times more difficult carrying all my own supplies (50 kilogram mountain bike, camping and repair/spare equipment, powder supplements, medicine, clothing, electronics) without support vehicles or riding partners to share the experience and difficulties with. It was an "up at dawn, get your pants on and ride, walk or trek today' kind of expedition, time not critical but distances on off road terrain and jeep track conditions completely variable in different weather and topographic conditions. I am a believer in adventure touring, and adventure racing too,both styles are incredible adventures.More about adventure MTB endurance events, Mt. Nandadevi Expedition Race is set to launch in November of 2012, and the registration is currently open - more info here.

Indian Himalayan 2012 Mt. Nandadevi Expedition Race is coming up November 24-December 1, 2012, details at the links provided and a great event to get started - it's fresh and new, cheaper by the dozens of global adventure races available today (I will share a list soon). Mt. Nandavevi Mountain Bike Expedition is a multi-staged endurance race crossing 635 Kilometers located along the Himalayas of northern India. Since the first annual Mt. Nandadevi race event is set to launch in November of this year, it's also one of the least expensive of global endurance MTB events and is set to launch with over $25,000 in prize money and new sponsors coming forward (including Ambrosio wheels, Oakley eyewear, and others joining the race movements). Looks exciting and inviting too!
We name the event 1st Mt. NANDADEVI INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN BIKING EXPEDITION and dedicated to India’s Second highest mountain NANDADEVI. This will be a bi annual expedition starting this November.
Mt. NANDADEVI INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN BIKING EXPEDITION is all set unveil on coming 23rd November 2012 in Uttrakhand ( This event will start from Dehradun the capital of Uttrakhand and will end at Auli.
Starting on 23rd Nov 2012 to till 1st of December this stage race of 9 great days will criss cross Gharwal area of Uttrkhand State. 12365 feet is the highest point you will touch en-route where you can take a close view of great Nandadevi Mountain. Each night of the event will showcases different Gharwali Cultural performances by local village and a dance performance by a noted Odissi dancer on the day of closing ceremony.
Mt. Nandadevi International Mountain Biking Expedition (MNIMBE) is an endurance mountain bike race during which each athlete will be able to put their abilities to the maximum test. The race is designed for teams of two or individual in which each team or participant must pass through each checkpoint (CP) together and in a certain amount of time to be determined. If team members fail to stay together or reach the CP in the designated cut-off time, they will be removed from the official ranking but will be permitted to continue in the race.

Get a taste of adventure racing in the Mongolia Bike Challenge (MBC 2012) Promo video here, it looks awesome too. Other events worldwide are taking the MTB race endurance participants to more amazing destinations as the sport's attention continues to grow.
Mountain biking expedition touring across Mongolia, what's it like on the ground?

Everything from muddy ruts in rain (I've never fallen so much in my life), corrugated dirt that bone shakes the body and stone-laiden tracks that are difficult to pick a line and ride smoothly. The off road conditions are either a paradise - or a the greatest challenge when riding through on a hardtail mountain bike carrying all the equipment you need to ride, camp and continue through internals and it took much of the entire summer to be completed. 38 of 45 days spent traveling across a country without connections setup ahead, no couch or warm hosts waiting ahead, only night to punctuate the long summer days, probably the best time to travel across Mongolia, not necessarily the easiest though. 
In most areas - the Mongolians were always on the horizon, somewhere dotting the landscapes, but in the northwest where tracks turned to sinking sand and fields of dust surrounding the abandoned wheat fields (post-Russian occupation), there wasn't an animal, a person, a ger tent, or a river to be seen anywhere. Although, a few jeeps flew past along the deserted sections, where farm houses were boarded and bolted shut, they didn't stop when I waved, instead they waved in return, or slowed and hesitated to open up and then drove off while I flailed my arms and pointed at my empty bottles where water should have been stored, I should have had enough (7 liters capacity, 3 additional liters in extra bottles, and 2 bottles were taken from the bike while camping at night-they are sought after in Mongolia, where the herders on horses didn't carry bottles at all for their own hydration). It definitely got tough and tougher with injuries. The road is hard, stony, rock laiden or steep straight up and over every mountain range. There are no paved roads outside of the 100km stretch leaving Ulaanbaatar to the west until Bayarkhangai, except 100km paved around Bulgan to Unit, and then nothing until the tarmac airplane-runway landing into Moron. 
The steppe grasslands are immense and the tracks lead everywhere, some places where people used to live, where the spot is left on the grassless steppe, a few stakes remain in the ground but nobody was there, no animals and no water. I had to recheck the GPS and find the tracks, return to them before I was too far off course to return. And so the summer went past, 45 days weaving in and out of the deserts, the steppe grasslands, the Nomad ger tents, the flocks of sheep and bands of horses dancing alongside the dirt where I roamed. I couldn't capture so much of these experiences in film or video like I wanted, I was too beat up by the terrain to bother. I captured a great deal, the rest will arrive in text being sewn together now as I look back - the experiences are close, the toughest, the ones that either break you, or recharge your imagination clarifying what an adventure could be like.
Over 45 days of the journey, I had time alone, time with nature (winning and losing) with Nomadic Mongolians who always shared their chai tea, bread and butter - and lovely "arroz" cheese with me.
When you are out alone into the wild world on a bicycle, you don't have to image what an adventure would be like if you 'just had enough time to experience it', you actually will spend your days -riding and trekking 10-12 hours a day to survive, to get water, to meet locals somewhere -on a route decided but outcomes unplanned and unanticipated - for exploring, this is as close as I have ever come to life.
I rode a Lynskey M240S titanium frame (1.2kg) which saved on weight, pushing the 45 kg dry weight of the bicycle, camping accessories, and powder (without 7-9 liters of water capacity). The rest of this update is built from a collection of photography and video created using time lapse techniques (I want to learn this myself). Amazing is different, enjoy them all. Namaste.

Time Lapse Photography, a collection of shorts to enjoy on exploring Mongolia, and getting to Mongolia from Denmark. Pretty amazing world is opened, explored, with challenges to overcome.

Denmark to Mongolia - Road movie, summer 2010 from Robin Skytte on Vimeo.
Road trips to and through Mongolia

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About the Korean-World Author

Brian Perich was an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) lecturer for a decade, father, and adventure cyclist based in South Korea.

Previously, Brian has led Canoe adventures in Quetico Provincial Park, Atikokan, Ontario, Canada (1993/1999); led Grand American camping adventures (2000); lived at Paramahansa Yogananda's SRF Ashram for 5 months (see the film "AWAKE"), formerly worked in titanium welding at Agilent Technologies, formerly worked in Winery industry in Marin County with Kendall Jackson in California; Surfing and Meditation continued for several years in California, British Columbia, South Korea, Yoga training in California 1999-2000.

Between 1994-1998 - Brian completed his own adventures with motorcycles. His motorcycling marathons took him across the United States and central/western Canada, while traveling solo over an astounding 24,000km in 60 days! Brian endured 900 mile/1300km average days in the motorcycle saddle and apparently loved every minute of those adventures.

Today, he has given up motorcycle adventures altogether, but finds an outlet for his enthusiasm in outdoor recreation while bicycle touring and micro-blogging about those experiences on his mountain bikes.

While employed as an English teacher in South Korea, Brian has became an advocate for bicycle touring on his mountain bikes. The Korean-World blog originated from those small adventures in Korea, now expanded to cover his recent trek down the TransMongolian highway to the Gobi Desert, cycling 900km east through the Khentii grasslands and in 2012 crossing Mongolia in 45 days, 2500 kilometers 1553 miles. HimalayasX expedition Brian previously cycled across western China, the Taklamakan Desert, the northern Himalayas of East Turkestan Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Region, the corrugated back roads and mountains of Kham Tibet. Brian successfully completed his 2011 mountain bike expedition with 3200 kilometers / 1988 miles unsupported, on/off road MTB adventure cycling.
Brian has completed his second mountain bike journey, MongoliaX expedition - Crossing Mongolia 2012, an unsupported mountain bike MTB expedition across 2500km of Outer Mongolia from Ulanbaatar to Altai Taven-Bogd National Park bordering China, Russia and Mongolia.

In 2013, as a sequel to a trilogy of cycle tours, Brian enjoyed a more leisure bicycle tour onboard his Koga-Miyata World Traveller seeing the northern tier of the United States and western Canada covering 3400 kilometers / 2000 miles in 30 days. This North American cycle tour was called Totherocktour. Enjoying the adventure of bicycle travel and every great conversation started while traveling on the road - has refueled his inspirations to cycle around the Earth. In 2013, while he cycled solo from the Great Lake State of Michigan, United States to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He weaved through local communities and reconnected with friends, family and community after spending almost a decade in Asia.

Brian is now supporting several non-profit foundations through expeditions: IDEAS Foundation of Canada IDEAS is the acronym for Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society which supports the IBD community, those suffering from IBD-inflammatory bowel disease, also known as Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis.

The second non-profit foundation is ETE.ORG - Education Through Expeditions, UK which supports educational outreach programs inside schools around the world. ETE connects explorers with students in the classroom, through an interactive online program in development (Beta).

Brian is researching support for a 18000 kilometer bicycle expedition across the Americas: North, Central and South America - ONE -Arctic to Argentina
Please contact him if you are interested in helping out.

Twitter: Cycleagain
Location: Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea or southern Ontario, Canada.

Thanks for visiting my Journal from Asia

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Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

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