Wednesday, September 2, 2009

August 31-September 2 - Repairs in Erdenet

We left Bulgan on the 31st and did a nice ride into the city of Erdenet. Erdenet is Mongolia's second largest city at about 80,000 people and we were told it is the richest city outside of the capital. The reason for this is the massive copper mine just outside the city which our Lonely Planet guide tells us consumes 50% of the countries electricity and generates 40% of the nations hard currency earnings.

Below is a photo of Jen riding into Erdenet The wealth was evident from the moment we got into the city. We ended up checking into the nicest room in the nicest hotel for about $30 CDN a night. It actually has a shower with hot water 24 hours a day!!! We have been seriously enjoying this novelty.

I found the suburban development below very cute. As in North America all the homes looked the same, except that these homes could not have been more than 500 square feet. They were tiny! Not exactly the McMansions most Canadian suburbs have. Adam (a friend from Montreal) let me know about the "Tiny Home Movement" last year while we were bored in class( I think the concept is really cool and these houses reminded me of it immediately.

Our plan was to spend one day in Erdenet resting and cleaning, but after washing the bikes I noticed that the Mongolian roads had not treated my rear cargo rack well and it was bent and cracked in a very bad way. This could have forced us onto a bus but our hotel owner was able to find a welder from the copper mine who could weld aluminum (which is quite difficult) and he bargained him down to ~$23 to do the repair the following day (delaying our departure for one day).

As well I contacted the manufacturer (Old Man Mountain from California) and they are shipping us a replacement rack, free of charge, which will meet us in Ulaanbataar. So although we were worried at first about how this might delay us, as long as the weld can hold for the next week into Ulaanbataar, it will only end up slowing us down by one day. As well it gave us a good excuse to sample the numerous great restaurants in town (in reality the best are probably about the same quality as your average highway truck stop at best, but right now they taste amazing!).

Below is a picture of the broken rack. The left leg should be straight, which it clearly is not! The long month through Mongolia on sh*t roads has clearly taken its toll.

The owner of our hotel is in the center and the two miners that he found to do the repair on either side. It was really amazing actually. As soon as the owner saw our problem he was on his cell phone to everyone he knew until he found someone in the city who was able to weld aluminum and he then convinced them to bring their equipment to the hotel and do the repair for ~$23. I highly doubt your average "Holiday Inn Express" employee would even look up "welder" for you in his phone book, not to mention calling in personal favors for their random guests.

The welder on the left, and the other hotel owner (wife of the man above) who acted as our translator.

The finished weld job. It is not all that pretty and the rack is still as crooked as Bernie Madoff, but it should hold until Ulaanbataar.

So that's all from us for now. We are off to a wonderful evening of Korean food, a hot shower, a bottle of wine and some BBC World Service (it's been a while since we've had English TV). That may not sound like your favorite night, but for us it is a nice change of pace!

Hope all is well and talk to you soon!



Donna said...

Sounds like you are finding some great people to help you. Enjoying your posts and always looking forward to the next. Stay safe

Adrian said...

Yah, but had you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, you would have known how to fix it yourself. ;)