Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
27Trip End Ongoing
Our previous driver wasn't available so he sent a friend of his. Luckily he also spoke Russian as Odko was at work so we'd be on our own with him. Great name too - Otgonbayar.
Here he is with Sally looking quite cool.
So Sally packed her crash helmet and off we went. We had a couple of places picked out from Lonely Planet to see on the day and we presumed that at one of them we'd spot some horses for Sally to ride.
First stop was a rather impressive hotel/resort. Surrounded by a wall... very well done indeed. You even had to pay to get into the hotel grounds... but they did have a bit of a beach as well but I'm not sure that justified the entrance fee.
Looks like Bayar's checking out the horse for Sally... No faith in Sally...?
No doubt he wants to get out of the way as quickly as possible. He's probably nervous of Sally's helmet.
Sally thoughtfully took a pic from on top of the horse for us. No amount of persuading could get Nora up on one. After all she couldn't sit on the top bunk in the train without hanging on to something. And I've always said that horse-riding's cruel. So Sally was solo.
We walked around a bit with her. I suppose it was a bit difficult to do much else with a couple of wowsers like us.
But at least this photo looks sufficiently exotic.
The hotel itself was pretty impressive. It looked rather deserted though. Perhaps things really kick up on the weekend...
We headed off to the village for a look and to have something to eat. In the distance some of the houses looked pretty impressive but when we got closer we found that the road was almost non-existent and was real 4-wheel drive territory.
From a distance everything looked great
but partly because of their love of high fences, once you're in the village everything feels a bit claustrophobic.
This was one of the few restaurants in the village. At least it was spotlessly clean but there was only one item on the menu... khoshour... a lamb-filled pasty.
It was interesting seeing them being made. The dough had to be rolled out then interestingly enough the edge of the khoshour was evened out by rolling the edge of a plate around it.
We also met an English bloke in the restaurant who, of all things, exports English riding equipment from England to Mongolia! With all that tradition I suspect that a lot of the Mongolian equipment hasn't changed in centuries and presumably the English equipment is better and above all, more comfortable. Let's face it, rich people are always looking for something ostentatious to spend their money on...
We had a quick postprandial walk, again, not much to see but some cows wandering home to be milked. Most of the people were hanging around the restaurant and the back-streets were mostly pretty quiet.
Though we did spot this woman in her front garden.
We finished off in the evening back at the Korean/Chinese restaurant near our hotel.
I spotted a spelling mistake in the Mongolian in one of their notices so I just had to get up and make a correction...
They didn't seem to have an alcohol licence but they let us bring out own vodka and beer in and if we hid the bottles... and drank out of tea cups. Vodka out of a tea cup... not quite the same...
The restaurant also had a sign up to watch out for pick-pockets... But it wasn't actually until after Nora noticed her purse missing from her hand-bag that we took any notice of the sign...
A group of about 4 girls had come into the restaurant and although there were plenty of empty tables about, they sat right down next to our table. Then after about ten minutes they left without having ordered anything. When Nora went to pay she discovered that her purse was missing from her handbag - from her handbag which had been on the floor against the back wall between her and one of the girls on the next table. I suspect it's a common trick. I think this was about the third time during the trip that people had come into the restaurant and left without ordering anything...
Odko insisted that we call the police and they did turn up eventually but as expected they weren't any help at all. They said we should go to the local police station where they'd show us some pics of known thieves and we might be able to identify them. I suspect they were more interested in getting back to the city square where the soccer was on a big screen tv. When we finally found the police station they'd sent us off to, we found it was closed and it was so dark in the area that it's a wonder that we weren't all robbed again!
But worse was still to come... On the way back to the hotel, on the busy main road, I was walking ahead with Odko, when Sally called out to me and I looked over to see some mean looking bloke coming towards me. Sally then told us that she noticed him staring at me and she's convinced he was on his way over to punch me out. He certainly did look pretty mean as did his friends but luckily they weren't ready to do anything in such a busy street and they dragged the bloke away. Sally now thinks I'm like Mr Magoo... things keep falling around me but I'm oblivious to it all...