21 Days In Mongolia

Day 16:

I woke up feeling claustrophobic as I did most mornings, needing to urgently release my arms from the sleeping bag.  I had been cold in the night, probably due to my insides feeling cold from the water in the day time.

It was another free day at the lake today and people all decided to do their own thing ….there were mountains to climb, lakes to walk around or water to sit beside.  There had not been snow in the night as we were all half expecting.  We had hash browns and muesli for breakfast.  It was another blue cloudless day. 

Andrew and I decided to spend the day by ourselves sat on the beach.  We read our books and it got so warm I actually managed to lie in my swimming costume and shorts for a few hours, on a towel on the pebbles, listening to the water lapping next to me.  For a few hours at least it made us seem that we had in actual fact chosen an idyllic, secluded beach holiday instead of camping and driving through Mongolia!!  Andrew actually managed to put his feet in to the water – but I knew I was clean enough to choose not to enter the water today.  We spent an isolated few hours together singing songs, reading and sleeping next to the driftwood, disturbed only twice, once by a herd of goats passing by on the banking above, stopping to look at us foreigners below and once by the resounding squeals of Agnes and Dee as they plunged naked in to the icy water somewhere along the shores at 3.30pm, a bet from yesterday.  

The only real sound we heard constantly all afternoon was the lapping of the waves on the beach whilst we looked over to the snow capped mountains in the north and enjoyed the sun and blue cloudless sky and very slight breeze from the south.  It could have been so different – we could have been sitting in our tent with six layers on watching the snow fall.

Something amazing happened in the afternoon, Andrew and I finally got a chance to read the books we had brought to Mongolia with us, we hadn’t had much chance before this due to bouncing vans and limited free time.  The book I was reading was called "Hearing Birds Fly” by Louise Waugh and I hadn’t really thought much about the title, when within 30 minutes of each other, 2 big birds (perhaps eagles) flew directly over head and above the sound of lapping water, we heard the sound of the birds flying.  It is hard to describe what it felt like or what it sounded like, but it was majestic, it was at this moment in the peace and tranquillity of Mongolia that I understood 100% the phrase "Hearing Birds Fly”.  Andrew left me on the beach and I continued to read and lie in the sun until the last streak of sunlight had left the area I was laying in. I finally actually craved some silence.  Hearing the water lapping suddenly became overbearing as it was "right there”.  I said to myself in my head "5 or 6 more laps and it will stop” but of course it didn’t – the sound was continuous.  I didn’t want to get cold to the core and be cold all night like I had been the previous evening, so I finally ventured up to camp about 5.15pm.  Andy had left me earlier at about 3.30pm.

The thought of having to return to work after our holiday was depressing but I knew that it was the same after any vacation.  I was already looking forward to returning to our home though and seeing the cat.  I looked again at the driftwood and thought how good some pieces would look in the space in the fireplace!!  I started to think about the fact that I wouldn’t cope with the cold in Mongolia in the winter and that they must become used to it as children – that they must be more "hardy” than us.  The young men and women already had rustic cheeks and appeared weathered.  Ulan Bataar is the coldest capital in the world.  We had only experienced an nth of how cold it could get here.  We were experiencing the last trip of the season.

Dinner tonight was macaroni cheese and somehow we managed to make apple crumble for dessert.  We couldn’t eat "Sally” as it appeared that the wild dogs had in fact managed to get high enough in the night to get to the two legs.  Therefore, we felt even worse thinking about Sally and what a waste it had all been.  We had an ox wander through the camp whilst preparing for dinner.  We learnt in the evening, that when the goats had wandered through the camp earlier, they had tried to eat Daniella’s book and Katherine had to run in to the food area to bang pans and stop them getting near the food.  There was a beautiful sunset in the evening and the sky was red. I started to think in "ups and downs” and went to bed thinking "only 4 more downs and 3 more ups”.  I was of course thinking about the erecting and packing up of the tent.

Day: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - epi