Saturday, 14 June 2008


Distance traveled: 10884 km

Next morning, after too little sleep, I woke up about 20 minutes late for my trip, fortunately the friendly Mongolians we're still waiting for me, and drove me to the rest of the group. Swiss the lot turned out to be, topped of with a Japanese house wife, they we're all alright though.

The bus was one of those 4 wheel drive soviet minibuses that you see everywhere in Russia, wonderful piece of machinery, if it brakes it will rarely be anything not fixed with a good knock of a hammer! The driver was a Russian educated veterinarian and the guide a fresh university grad, money obviously is in the Tourism industry, which i found somehow saddening - it tourism industry does however bring a lot of much needed foreign currency into the country.

The Mongolian countryside was a world away from UB, and the people a world away from Russia, smiling, helpful, and generous to the extreme - just the smiles is enough to warm anyones frozen heart, especially after dealing with the Russians who (are very nice people, but) wouldn't bring up a smile on their face if their life depended on it.

We stayed with Nomadic families almost every day, they were however all camps that rented out an extra Ger (or yurt) to tourist tours, still, the hospitality was extraordinary and it was a fantastic experience brushing my teeth before bed time, with goats, camels, cows, dogs and sheep running around my legs. Our guide whipped up one great dish after another, in the most primitive of circumstances - Often the lack of electricity and running water, can somehow make you fell like you've traveled back in time, even the "roads" are nothing but bumpy dirt tracks (my rear quarters are still hurting from them) apart from being the exact distance of two wheels, might as well have been made by horses or camels. In the course of a few day our day rhythm changed to that of our Nomadic hosts, up by dawn and in bed my sunset, mainly due to the lack of electricity, and hence any form of lightning other than our flashlights.

The Gobi itself it not a dessert as we think of it back home, but rather dry barren land of sand and gravel, with a thin layer of grass on top - just enough to give the livestock something to graze on - it was all mind blowingly beautiful. And there was some extraordinary sights along our route, Especially the sand dunes seem to have left a lasting impression.

I leave UB on Sunday with a bus to Ulan Ude in Russia, enchanted by this far flung lands, and with a strong feeling that I some day will return here, with enough time and means to really explore this wonderful nation!

- Stefan

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