Magnificent Mongolia

Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
Trip End Feb 01, 2012

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Flag of Mongolia  , Arhangay,
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hello all you lovely people!

 On day 6 we left the Gobi and started traveling north towards our next destination. On our way there we stopped in this tiny dingy town that was smack bang in the middle of nowhere. As we stopped to refuel we were greeted by a girl who spoke in an American accent. We all looked out of the van in surprise and sure enough we found an American by the petrol pump. It turns out that this poor girl had joined the Peace Corps (an American organisation which sends volunteers to teach English abroad amongst other things) and naively put 'anywhere' as destination of choice. The Peace Corps took her to her word and this luckless girl was about to spend the next 2 years of her life in a town with no restaurants, no Internet, no running water, no electricity. No wonder she'd already taken to hanging out by the petrol pump. As we left the petrol station the quips started...would we find her hanging on the back door of our van when we next stopped? would she start inhaling petrol for entertainment? would she set up camp by the petrol pump in the next few weeks? American girl you have our full admiration!

It was also on this day that we unanimously agreed that it was time to cheat. Forget camping out or sleeping in a ger, we wanted to stay in a hotel! Our guide Shika, being as wonderfully flexible as ever, set about trying to find us a decent place at the town we had stopped in for the night. Ah the joys of a soft bed, and running water!!! Running water!! Even though the hot water was on for only an hour and it kind of trickled down softly from the shower, you would have thought we'd spent the day at The Sanctuary Spa with the smiles on our faces that night. We all had huge rooms and as a result we decided to have a party in one of our 'executive suites' to celebrate the joyous affair. 

On the next day we traveled to the next town call Kharkorin (Mongolia's old capital). A dusty town with a fine monastery. Bob left us to go back to UB as he was going to try to get to Tibet. As fate would have it on the same day we were approached by a girl who asked us if we had space for 2 more people in our van. 'Sure' was our answer and so we were joined by an Irish man and Aussie woman, Kaitlin and Jo who are also trying to get to OZ without using planes. 

We were all in for a great treat when we drove to Tsenher hot springs the following day. The weather had turned quite chilly and we were so glad to find a warm ger being heated by burning wood instead of dung. The hot springs were great - a gorgeous natural looking pool with hot water out in the chilly air surrounded by mountains and trees.  It felt like heaven sitting in the hot pool full of healthy minerals whilst drinking a bottle of wine, a parting gift from Bob.

At night we were joined by a few people from other gers and spent another great evening chatting drinking and playing games. When the generator was switched off and the lights went out we stuffed the stove with wood to make sure we were warm enough during the night. After about half an hour or so we were gasping for air as the ger was turned into a sauna with the heat coming out from the stove. What can I say, fire management wasn't anyone's forte.  

We were all sad to be leaving the hot springs and unfortunately, the mood turned even more sombre when our driver got the news that his brother had died. He was ill so it was not a total surprise for him but he was obviously very upset. He left to go back to Ulan Bator, so we had to wait overnight in the town where we were getting supplies for another driver to come. The name of the town is Tsetserleg and it has a huge shining light, an oasis in the desert.  What is this amazing thing I hear you ask! It's a British run guest house that has an amazing cafe that does English breakfasts, steak sandwiches, home-made cakes and bread! So you can imagine how mad we went the next day! As fate would have it, Simon and Myla the Swiss couple were staying there so we all hooked up again. Our next port of call was The white lake (Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur). It was another stunning location. We had gers right on the lake front which meant you could lay in bed and just soak it all in (no pun intended!). That night we had a great Mongolian meal. I know, i know, but it's true. It's a traditional dish called Horhog. More will be said about this on Karen's food blog. 

Talking of Karen, the poor thing got sick whilst we were at the White Lake so she missed our activities the next day. We went horse riding and trekking. It was only my second time horse riding and it was amazing. As you can imagine the views were stupendous and my horse was brilliant. Mongolian horses are smaller than the kind we have in the west but they can go hell for leather when they fancy it. Half way through the horse riding we trekked up an extinct volcano and down to some caves. Unfortunately, i did not have my camera with me as the guides said that the noise of the camera might spook the horses. I did take some shots with my phone though so i will see how good they came. 

Our last 2 days were spent at another lake called Ogii Lake. It was not as impressive as The White Lake and to be honest I think we were all needing a break from being on the road so we spent most of our time chilling out in our ger. We were down to our last 3 people Karen, Felix and I as Jose, Joe and Caitlin all left to go back to Ulan Bator. On our last night we had an aborted fishing trip to Felix's dismay (he loves to fish) because it was too windy but the night before we were invited into a ger full of Mongolians and tried Goat's heart. It was actually nice, although they did ply us with loads of Mongolian vodka (Karen had a Bailey's you will happy to know!) so that may have impaired our judgement. One great thing about Ogii Lake was the wild horses. They would stand in the shallow water to cool off. Karen and I stood watching them for ages and it was really beautiful to be so close to such magnificent animals. 

Well, that's it! 14 days out in the Mongolian wilderness. It is not easy to do, in fact it will probably be the hardest part of our trip but the scenery will live with us forever.

Bye for now,

Paul & Karen xxx  
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Tukkie on

As usual a great read and fab pics!! Thanks guys, look forward to the next entry... take care XXX

mom &dad on

Another great and funny read,also fab pics cannot wait for the next one xxxxxxx

Dean on

any chance you could bring a couple of those horses back for Emma and Holly x x x

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