16.09.2018 18 °C
Leaving Beijing was not a hassle 9.30 flight so up at 6.30 and 20min walk to metro then 1 change to the airport cheap easy and no hassle. Booked in que 5 people, then through the usual Chinese security, terminal so vast had to take a mini train to departures and then walk some as Mongolian air have the last waiting room, a bit like Auckland when you fly domestic!We made it with 15 mins to spare.
Good flight very attentive staff but landed at Ulasbaatar a bit fast. Great salad meal during our 2 hour flight.Taxis can be a nightmare at U B airport but a chap said do you want a ride to your hotel I said how much and he asked for $20 us .which is the base fair so off we went. U B.s. traffic is a nightmare took us over an hour to do 22km and road rules are only advisory and traffic lights only get obeyed if there is a cop there! Organised chaos.UB is the most ugly city I have ever seen half finished abandoned buildings dotted around don't help either.00
As we were only there 3 nights everything had to be compressed, organised an overnight tour to Terelj national park and when I said to our host Anand that we would not be at the hostel the middle night he said well I will store your cases for that night and only charge you for 2 nights,what a Star he really is one of the most helpfully owners We have come across. Anyone staying in UB I can unreservedly recommend this guy and Zaya hostel. Nothing is too much trouble for him!
Back to us we set off at 9.00am with a private driver and visited the Huge stainless steel Gengis Khan monument Him aboard a horse. This thing is 40 metres tall on top of a 10mtr base building and the statue weighs 250tonne! Views from top breathtaking.Then we were driven to Terelg where we met some of the worst "roads" I have ever seen,A couple of Kiwis with a grader could ,make a fortune!
We averaged about 10kph.We got to our overnight accommodation 6 various Gers and a couple of sheds where the cooking was done,had lunch, not bad and then got left there being told that a driver would pick us up at 10.00am next day, he also said there was a good walk up to a temple and horse riding at 6pm! Gers are the traditional Mongolian accommodation on the steepes and are round and lined with yak felt.So we went walking and oh so peaceful enjoyed that but due to a lot of people riding that was postponed until the next day. After dinner which Marie liked but I didn't they lit the stove in our Ger and then piled it up with coal! I had to open the door to stop it being like a Turkish bath even though the temp. outside was near zero, and this was just a summer Ger with 1 layer the winter ger has 4 layers and stay warm at 30° below,I can well believe it!6
We both had excellent nights sleep once it cooled off a bit and got up about 7.30 to -5 The previous night had made the acquaintance of 2 Bactrian Camels(2 humps) who turned out to be owned by our host!!
After breakfast we got to ride them as well as the horses so we reckon we really got value for money!
BACK IN UB we went shopping again with the help of Anand who organised a taxi to take us to the Gobi cashmere factory outlet stay with us and bring us home again US$2!! Mind you we spent over 1.000.000 tegrit there and the driver picked up the loyalty points on his app!Don't panic that's only 600 nz$. Went out ourselves after and found the local felting shop that cost us another 100.000 tegret once the power had been restored. That day the government had decreed that the winter heating would be turned on so power out for 3 hours whilst they sorted it out?!!We were half way through a supermarket shop at the time but fortunately they had backup power so we could complete our shop Because of our short stay and Anand I didn't have any tegrets) only paid in us$ or by credit card! Yesterday train taxi arranged by guess who$us2 and on board by 3.00pm left on time behind 2 dirty Mongolian Diesels belching fumes whenever they had to work hard. Train actually Russian carriages and staff, and our ticket agent another outstanding fellow got us 2 bottom berths in the 4 person salon and we turned out to be the only ones so had it to ourselves, the only one in our carriage all the others were 4 up,.Nice restful journey but Mongolian customs at 11.00pm and then 45mins later it was the Russians turn. Talk about thorough blue and laser lights on your passport, them a rummage through the compartment then the sniffer dog, luckily we passed with flying colours, today after, eventually, a good night's sleep we breakfasted off our own supplies as we did for dinner last night and again for lunch today, there were only chocolate bars etc on the train! Both have colds so glad for the long rest arrived on time at Irkutsk 2.27pm and took taxi to our appartment , nobody told me there wasn't a lift and 4 flights of stairs, oops. Still here for 6 days so time to recover before we take them down again. Our hosts daughter greeted us on arrival and speaks good English so that's a good start,we will probably go for an explore and then have dinner Russian style before an early night.