Trip Start Apr 03, 2013
103Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
We saw this rickety old shack that said welcome to Mongolia, told Steve he had to get a photo of that one, which he did in true Steve fashion and taking forever, so they busted him and he got in trouble, whoops. Then off to the real border control. They were done and dusted within 40 mins (dodgy food passed again) but we had to wait for our engine to arrive before we could go anywhere so 2 hours later we were off. I decided to also get some cash out at the station but who has an idea on the exchange rate?? Hopefully, 1,000 will cover it
So sain bainauu Mongolia!!!!
So there is our new guide awaiting our arrival, we are now on our own so hopefully all goes to plan. Any who, Bagsy is waiting for Miss Irwin + 1, that's us and off we go. It is 6am and we are both really tired but Bagsy seems to have too much energy and wants to practice his English we think at every chance he gets. So we stop at the bank to get some money out as he doesn’t think 1,000 will cover it, apparently this is because that is only 50p so that would make sense really. Then we have a nearly 2 hour drive ahead of us. Finally we arrive in our Ger camp!!! We are shipped into our Ger and have a few hours to ourselves. As there is no breakfast we decide to have a real shower and rest for a couple of hours. On return from the shower I find our Ger has sprung a leak. So off I trot to the main house where everyone starts to panic and yell at the man clearing the snow and then there is a lady on our roof and then we are back in action. We discover we are not the best at getting the fire started or kept going so we will need to work on this one. They are quite roomy inside so you can see how a family will fit in one easily as they still do with all the mod cons, fridges, microwaves, TVs, internet etc. Not for us though, back to basics.
So off we trot at 11am
We then made our way up to a Buddhist temple. So we arrive and the gates are locked, but not to worry we all fit through the fence so off we go. Not sure if this is classified as break and enter and probably not a real good thing to do. Anyway so off we hike to the top. On our way we are passing a lot of prayers on boards with numbers. When we get to the top there is a turnstile type thing which is a prayer wheel. You spin it clockwise (apparently everything goes clockwise in Buddhism) and then look at the number it stops on up the top. I was 135 and Steve 10, so off we trot to find out what they mean. Steve said mine suits me to a t as you can link it to wine, he just has to look after all animals forever, we might have a vegetarian in the making here!! On route to finding out what our prayers are we hike up 108 steps to the main temple, it was hard work and I give it to the monks who do this twice a day. 108 and 9 are the lucky numbers in Buddhism. The temple is highly decorated inside and again you must go around the temple clockwise. There are loads of books written in Tibetan and wrapped in silk. On the outside, the pictures on the eves show you both good things to do to get to heaven and bad things that will send you to hell, some of the pictures were quit gory.
Next stop lunch. We went to visit a family living in their Ger for the winter for some traditional Mongol food. First we were served what was called tea, as Steve and I are not tea drinkers it was quite hard to swallow but as we were in someone else’s house we did
We then arranged for a 12am call at the Ger for some coal to keep the fire warm through the night, we were still awake for the call and the lady came in, saw the fire still burning and then left. Hmmm, where is our coal?? Maybe we had been too good as isn’t it just the bad kids that get coal for presents??
So for Steve’s b’day he gets to build a fire at 2:30am so we don’t freeze to death. We had another call at 5am where she banged and banged on the door as we locked it as the door kept on blowing open and letting cold air in. She built the most useless fire and left.
As we were packing up we spotted accident number 2. This time the casualty was my jumper. I had washed it as it was getting to be in quite a state on the train and to dry it we put it by the fire, well apparently it was too close and it got burnt L Now I need a new jumper as it is quite obvious.
We headed back into UB today to explore
Next stop was The National History Museum. We learnt a lot about past and present history, even the fact that Mongols didn’t have passports to go abroad until 1992!! And in the 13th century Mongolia ruled most of Europe and Asia, who would figure hey?? Then off to the central square where we looked at the central point of UB and learnt that the capital has moved 6 times. Each time it moved the name was to do with circles, then the Russians came in and created UB which has nothing to do with circles just another Russian name.
Next stop lunch, food is very important and I think over these past two days we have eaten more than we have on the whole trip so far!
With full bellies and Steve’s cake we headed to the Emperors Winter Palace, however, it was locked for refurbishment so instead we went to pay a visit to the monument tribute to the Russian and Mongolian cooperation with each other during the wars in the armed forces. Again there were loads of stairs to climb so I do think our guide is slowly trying to kill us, but probably a good ploy to try and work off some of lunch. The view from the top over the city was amazing, looking over the city to the snowy mountains behind. Inside the monument there was a mosaic mural which told a story of the Russians and Mongols working together in their army’s and helping each other out with the final picture of them working together in peace time
We then are dropped off at the hotel before dinner. Finally got some Wi-Fi (although only in the lobby but this is supposed to be a 4 star hotel??) to catch up with the rest of the world. Dinner was again 4 courses and way too much. But back to the hotel after dinner for bed and get ready for our 5am wake up call for China.
Mongolia was great, the countryside was a great escape from city life and I can see why people say it is so picturesque. One thing both Steve and I have picked up in Mongolia is some extra baggage!! Let’s hope that can be worked out quickly hey!!