Back to at the car park, Tara is busy journaling. Striding in to meet her, I can hardly believe we've done it! Cheering, high-fives and a recounting of the last few hours ensues. Then, as much as I want to collapse and call it a day, I get to work once more. Tomorrow, we're leaving our hotel in favor of a much cheaper hostel – we need our bikes to be rolling so we can ferry our things over.
With a deep breath, I begin inspecting and assembling our mounts. The frames have been scraped and scuffed in several places, as have the rims. There just wasn't enough room in the trunk to properly pad everything. Thankfully, all of the scarring is cosmetic. The wheels are still true, the frames are still straight, all the parts are functioning, and their bolts accounted for.
With each new piece refitted, the bikes take shape and our excitement builds. It has been three days since we arrived in Ulaan Bataar, but for us, it feels as though we've just now reached the finish line. This is it! We did it! Soon, we'll be cycling through Southeast Asia!
Our moods are brightened even more when we receive an email from Neisha and Rob, the cycle touring couple we met in Altai. After a few bitter cold nights, waking up to frozen water bottles, they hitched a ride to UB. They've just arrived in the capital, and we're going to meet for dinner!
Bikes partially assembled, we carry everything upstairs. Then, a short walk leads us for a second time, to a delicious, though inauthentic, Mongolian barbecue restaurant, hugely popular with locals and tourists alike. This time, the place is packed, and there is a band playing.
As the guys play their two-stringed instruments, we load our bowls as high as possible:
…and then we watch as two more guys expertly cook our meals for us:
The resulting food is delicious.
Better than the food is the fantastic company of our friends. Rob and Neisha have joined us all for dinner and we've found instant kindred spirits in the silly, adventurous and loving pair. Unfortunately, our Mongol Rally gang is rapidly dispersing. Tonight, Charlie and Tim are taking their leave, bringing the taxi home to England. It will be really sad to say goodbye to them :(.