The roads in Mongolia are ridiculous. When we got here, a friend warned us that a dirt road can be worlds better than a paved road, and I second that. But, they do come with some amazing scenery once you are out of the city. The quality and style of the roads really vary, the crazy picture below happens to be of the road east of UB, which is currently being fixed (although most doubt that the new road will stay drivable for any length of time).
Some dirt roads in the steppe are great, like driving on dirt roads at ranches at home. And some paved roads have such huge, deep potholes I wonder how small cars navigate them. And then there’s the road in progress: for a while you are on a paved road, then it’s just blocked because they haven’t finished with it, and you are left with my favorite road style — what I like to call “choose your own adventure.” Hopefully you can tell from this picture, but what you have is a paved road in the middle that no one can drive on, and several optional dirt paths on either side of the road. You do not necessarily have to drive on the right side of the paved road, so beware of oncoming traffic. I found on a road trip last weekend that my limit of bad roads (and I mean the truly terrible kind) is about two hours before I start getting a little grumpy and tired and in need of a break.
With all of this of course you get amazing scenery. Driving across through the mountains there are gers every so often, herds of animals everywhere, and every now and then you see their herder on horseback running across the steppe. For those of you who have seen French Kiss, just think Meg Ryan on the cross country train bursting out: “Beautiful! Gorgeous! Wish you were here.”