Moleskine Entry: April 20th, 2011
or ‘things that I’ve forgotten to write down and mustn’t forget that I did them’
Day one in Ulaanbaatar (UB):
- Feeling immensely spiritual (and quite honoured) after catching an extremely rare Buddhist ceremony at the main Monastery (pictured) in UB. So rare in fact, our guide called her mother as it began so she too could hear the prayers and chants around us; incredibly moving.
- Facing down pick-pocketers (my new favourite past-time)
- Crying tears of laughter at the hilarity of Mongolia’s ‘world famous’ International Intellectual Museum. There are honestly, no words.
- Oly (finally) admitting his love for our first Honcho, Marina.
- Beers, pool and then a Mongolian Karaoke Bar until the very early hours.
Yesterday (day two in UB), we drove for an hour out of the city to camp out for the night in a traditional Mongolian Gur camp. It was pretty impressive stuff.
There was horse-riding, local delicacies, a visit to a nomadic family and of course, the sunrise earlier this morning. An additional bonus was that the other group we met on our first night in Moscow were staying at the same camp-site too and now, we’ll be travelling together all the way to China.
Oh yeah, that’s another thing, there’s still China.
Moleskine Entry: April 20th, 2011
Up at 5am this morning.
Last night I jokingly remarked over dinner how awesome it might be to watch the sun come up over the Mongolian mountains. Given that we were literally in the middle of nowhere, camping, there probably wouldn’t be another opportunity like it.
“GREAT IDEA!” they replied, in unison.
It was cold. It was madness.
It was… Beautiful.
Moleskine Entry: April 19th, 2011
Writing this today sat in a traditional Mongolian Ger tent, there’s a fire stove burning and the group next to me are learning how to play a game involving the ankle bones from a goat.
We arrived into Mongolia’s capital early yesterday morning and boy was a it ever a long day – in the best of ways.
First, after the SIX HOURS it took to cross the border, we arrived in Ulaanbataar (UB) with relative ease. We switched over to local time (which is probably still messing with our heads) and disembarked.
Our Honcho, a mad, mad woman called Odka – “Like Vodka! But no V!” she exclaimed – greeted us and drove us into town.
Things of note
- 24hr banking in UB is a work of genius. The only caveat being that you have to knock on the door of the bank until the teller wakes up! Also, once inside, be ready to manoeuvre [quietly] around snoring cashiers.
- Mongolian people are awesome. Friendly, smiley and very, very hospitable. We kind of came to expect this given the warm reception we had from our fellow travellers en route but, here in their home-country, the kindness of the locals really shines.
- California Bar for breakfast? Our first non-Siberian/non-ready-made meal for over a week? Oh go on then. Classy, I know.
- General traffic-based mayhem (I may have video of this knocking around somewhere).
- Occasional bullet holes.
Overall, this city is cool. The mad, mad, mad culture clash of eastern tradition and western aspiration has created a truly remarkable vibe.
Between then and now much has happened but dinner is nearly ready and I have to go. There’s still so much to catch up on but I’ll have to save all that for later.
Tonight, we sleep under the stars.