Most border crossings you try to get there as early as you can. You honestly have no idea how the day is going to turn out. I spent the night in a town that was perhaps a two hour ride from the border. Having stocked up on water as it was so hot and some snacks I made my way there. The crossing I used to enter Mongolia was up in the North West of the country. The Tsagaannuur crossing.
Arrival was around 1000 which wasn't brilliant and already it was hot. First off was to check out of Russia. To be fair to the Russians I've not had any problems with the borders and this was no different. It's just time consuming. It's not like at an airport where there are signs in English and everyone waits their turn. At these places it's a free for all. Me being English I'm use to queuing and it really grips me when people don't understand this concept. If there is a space they will take it from you and not think anything of it. So stand your ground!
You have two places to clear. Passport control and customs. Passport control will check your documents for you, like your visa. Customs want to check the bike, it's fairly straight forward. Just keep smiling and don't be aggressive and you won't have a problem. Most of the time they wont even bother checking the bike. They know you are here to ride through their country as a tourist and have not come all this way in this capacity to cause problems.
Once through all the checks it's into no man's land. You're kind of nowhere and riding towards the next border. At this crossing the distance is quite big which is real strange. It's a long dirt track which on the map says you are in Mongolia but you have not actually checked in yet.
Timings was not great. There was a bit of queue of vehicles and the guard decided to close the border and go on their lunch break. This apparently is quite normal. It only lasted just over an hour. But this also gave us time to meet some of the locals. This area is heavily populated by Kazachs as the border is real close. A lot of cars loaded up with produce. Probably selling it for business inside Mongolia at the markets.
The border crossing here is at about 2300m I think which is crazy. It's far higher than any point back in the UK. Because of this the heat is intensified. It's real hot now standing around in the midday heat and there is no shelter anywhere. I heard that this area, the Steppe has no trees. So far I cant see any anywhere. Not cool when you need some shade. There was a public toilet but you have got to be real desperate to use that. A hole in the ground with swarms of flies everywhere. Yeah I will wait until I get to the other side I think.
Finally the border opened and we were ushered through. Now this is where it gets crap. Like I said, no signs telling you where to go. Most land borders are commonly used by locals so they know where the are going. For me, not a bloody clue. I joined the masses and just hoped I was getting it right. As long as I had paperwork to say the bike is checked in and my passport was stamped for entry then that's all good.
I think it took about four hours of going back and forth to different windows, standing there watching guards on YouTube rather than sorting us out. You cant get angry because they hold the power. All you can do is put a smile on your face and be patient. Eventually it will be over. That time had come. I was given a slip of paper to give to the guy at the gate to be let through. I da one last look over my paperwork to make sure I have everything that I need. All good. Through the gate I went and now I am officially in Mongolia. It was a long, hot and stressful day but I am finally through. It's all part of the experience and adventure. I'm in Mongolia!!! This is cray. I can't wait to explore this region.
Stay tuned guys for the next part of the trip. I will try my best to keep you updated. Thank you to everyone that has helped me get this far on the trip. Your knowledge and experience has been much needed.
Aaron and Penny