Every so often, we have the good fortune of meeting people with whom we connect immediately. Try as we might, we've thus far been unable to ascertain exactly what is required to bring about this experience, but when it does, it is unmistakable. All we know is that some ineffable quality within them resonates with us – they are our "right people", even if we can't describe why.
Neisha and Rob definitely fall into this category, and it isn't because they are fellow cycle tourists (we've met loads we didn't connect with, and many non-cyclists with whom we did):
They are approaching the end of an epic four-month adventure, heading to Neisha's homeland of Australia from England. Having completely unraveled their lives in the UK, they hope to settle in New Zealand and start a new life for themselves. After flying from the UK to Latvia, they've been travelling primarily by bicycle, with some stretches by train, and in the case of Mongolia, a bit of hitchhiking, too!
We met them during the busiest and most stressful period of our expedition, and their company has cheered us immensely. We've spent the last several days swapping cyclist-turned-Mongol Rallier stories, and commiserating about some aspects of the Rally that we all found irritating.
But it wasn't just our shared experiences that brought us closer. We love how good they are to one another, and how quick they are to laugh, especially at themselves. In my experience, these two qualities are required for successful long-term touring as a couple.
Since arriving in Ulaan Baatar, the four of us have been systematically destroying our Mongolian budgets together with a wide-eyed, ravenous food binge, featuring cheeseburgers, expensive coffee and croissants, Mongolian buffets, deep-fried bar food, and most importantly, milkshakes!
Rob and Neisha have momentarily taken up my obsession with the thick beverage, and are trying to find the perfect one, too. We had a milkshake that hit pretty close to the mark (at "California Burger"), but it was no match for the Courier Cafe, or almost any diner in the USA.
Tonight is our last evening together, and we've mostly failed at our mission of finding the perfect milkshake, so Rob and Neisha try a more unconventional approach: start with a sundae!
Not too shabby! Much better than the bland runny mess that passes for a milkshake in these parts.
Rob and Neisha, we wish you the best of luck with the rest of your tour! We'll miss you!