Monday 27 August 2012

The journey begins...

Our train pulls out of Beijing station and our epic journey home has begun. We watch the city disappear and countryside start to pass by the windows.

When we reach the border I feel as sick as a dog, and it’s not long before I’ve thrown up in a dodgy squat toilet somewhere between China and Mongolia. Perhaps not the best start… We later conclude that this is likely to have been some kind of altitude sickness as Mongolia is probably the highest place I’ve ever visited.

Our lovely guide Oggie meets us at Ulaanbaatar station and our 3-day sojourn begins with a rapid tour around the city. In about an hour and a half we take in:
·      The Soviet Era statue situated high above the city
·      The oldest remaining Monastery (the only one not destroyed by the Russians)
·      Central Square with its statues of Genghis (Chingis) Khan and his various sons and Grandsons.
·      A cashmere factory outlet shop
Finally we are driving away from the congested, polluted city and out into open countryside. Our Ger camp is not too far out, quite small but surrounded by open fields, nomadic camps, horses, sheep and goats. Bliss.

Inside the Ger is very comfortable. Obviously ours is set up for tourists, although we find out on the last day that it is not watertight as the rain comes gushing in through the roof. We have electricity, a log fire and comfortable beds. The food is served in the main building and although always a variation on mutton it is very good. Particularly the breakfast on the first day.

On our second day we head out to stay overnight with a nomadic family. I will share the details of that in a forthcoming post, but it was definitely an eye-opener and worthwhile experience.

Our time in Mongolia was one of calm, quiet and fresh air. Of relaxing, sleeping and playing simple games together.  On our way back to the city to catch our onward train we made a de-tour to the huge Genghis Khan statue/museum an hour away. It was an interesting museum, which educated me to how important the Khan dynasty, was for not just this area but also the entire world. A rather random extra was the world’s largest boot, which actually detracted from the rest of the museum.

Before we got our train we had enough time to whizz into a performance of traditional Mongolian arts; Singing, dancing and contortion. Probably not even worth the £7 to get in, but something that had been recommended to us, we left slightly puzzled. Stopping to get BBQ chicken (finally something other than mutton!) we ended up getting take away and scoffing our dinner in the van outside the station as our guide soothed us ‘Don’t worry we have plenty of time’ as the panic slowly rose within us both that we were going to miss our train.

Of course we didn’t and were soon safely on our way to Russia, with two tour group companions down the hall, who would later entertain us with drunken renditions of God Save the Queen and Que Sera sera. But more of that eventful journey later…

Chingis Khan

Mary looking windswept

A statue to mark the relationship between the Soviet Union and Mongolia

A car park in the middle of open fields

Making our fire for the night

Delicious Breakfast

Getting used to horse riding

The main man

The world's largest boot...

Shaman dance at the Traditional Mongolian show

Onwards to Irkustk

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1 comment:

  1. Fascinating, I wondered about that boot myself! I loved the door on the tent but surely not very portable?