Mörön to Mörön

Friday, 26 July 2013

Moron to Moron 271I won’t try to improve on their publisher’s (Allen & Unwin’s) blurb: Uncrossable rivers! Hospitable nomads! Rabid dogs! Marijuana fields! Hailstone flashfloods! Maidens on horseback! Underpants wrestling! Toxic mountain-top lakes! Stupid westerners! And the mountain-biking – so much biking your arse will hurt just reading it. This is what happens when two young idiots set out on a gonzo ride across the wilds of Mongolia.

Tom Doig, the author and his mate Tama Pugsley (they’re both kiwis) noted that Mongolia had two towns named Mörön, a bigger one to the west, a smaller one to the east. The two Möröns, which means river, or more correctly big river, in Mongolian, are over 1000km apart. Ulaanbaatar, the big city capital of Mongolia is about midway between.

So being two morons (their claim) Tom and his mate decided to cycle from Mörön to Moron. It’s quite an adventure and since I was passing through Mongolia earlier this month – much more comfortably, on the Trans-Mongolian train, it seemed the perfect book to read.

Plus Tom and I will be talking at 730pm on Wednesday 28 August at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, Australia – as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival.

bronze age deer stone site, Uushigiin Uver, chartered Central Mongolia Airways helicopter.
▲ Our Mi-8 helicopter at the bronze age site of Uushigiin Uver, noted for its ‘deer stones’

Back in 2007 I stopped briefly in the western Mörön, again travelling in a much more comfortable fashion than Tom and Tama. That time Maureen and I were in a big old Russian Mi-8 helicopter. We’d stopped to refuel and I noted that the Mörön airport terminal was fronted by a statue of Khainzan Gelenkhuu, a Mongolian Icarus whose attempts to fly were facilitated by sheepskin wings. Feathers and wax sounds much more sensible. We met two Spanish cyclists at the airport.