. As the rain continued to lash down, we made our way slowly towards the White Lake. Despite being only 70km away, it took us more than 7 hair-raising hours to get there. Ivan was clearly in his element, his confidence increasing in his own god-like driving abilities as the roads got worse. Clearly in trailblazing mood, steadfastly ignoring the sad excuse for a trail and instead choosing to entertain us with some wet grass driving. I lost count of the number of times we spun the car, or even the number of ruts that we went careering into. On this journey we also coined the phrase 'bending the bar', which was to be used extensively throughout the rest of the trip. In most vehicles, the front passenger seat is a prime spot but not with Ivan at the helm. The poor sod whose turn it was to occupy the jump seat would turn noticeably white at the prospect of being able to see all too clearly the full extent of Ivan's antics. I'm not sure if it was installed as an optional extra but where the glove box on most cars would be, there was a large iron bar, situated to give you a very sore head if there happened to be an accident (seatbelts, needless to say are not standard issue). As I was doing my time in the front seat, I could hear Sonia and Keiran laughing at me from the back. They then pointed out that my knuckles had literally turned white and that if I held on any tighter, I would bend the bar. I failed to see the funny side of this and probably had another strop. At least in the back of the jeep where you were wedged in, your view was largely obscured from the horrors unfolding in the road ahead
After such a miserable day, we decided to treat ourselves to some luxury accommodation in the form of a ger, complete with beds and even a stove. There was something very homely about the ger, especially hearing the hissing as rain drops were spitting on the hot stove. The White lake is Huge and bears an incredible resemblance to the Torridon area of Scotland. The wind and rain finally called it a day late in the evening and we were rewarded with the most amazing rainbows and sunset.
As you will well know, I have a healthy appetite. Early this particular morning, breakfast was the last thing on my mind as I was greeted by the sight of a fully grown sheep being skinned outside our front door. Despite the obvious gore, it was fascinating to see the lady at work as she quickly and skilfully butchered the animal.
The next day was not fun. For a start, we had a long drive ahead of us. Secondly, it was scorching hot but you couldn't open the windows because of the masses of dust that was being kicked up. Ivan's driving continued to degenerate whilst I got steadily more worked up. I can't actually remember what happened but according to Kerian and Sonia I had a total toys out of pram incident in continued protest at the unquestionably suicidal driving. Finally we made it to a camping spot that suited us - not the one Ivan wanted which just happened to be next door to his mate - and took to the river to once again rid ourselves of the incessant dust. I indulged in a bit more fishing and was rewarded with two large trout-like fish, much to the surprise of the rest of the team. In the night, the wettest part of Mongolia was living up to its reputation and the next morning we were faced with the misery of taking down tents in the pouring rain. Things proceeded to get worse as the day went on, for we had now left the relative comfort of the Mongolian motorway system and were headed to the equivalent of a B road