21 Days In Mongolia

Day 7:

Up at 7am again and tents down as usual. We were only 3 minutes out of our camp site when Bataar’s back wheels got stuck in a small stream and he was unable to pull it out. Everyone piled out and it took a few attempts, much wheel spinning and a breaking of a tow rope before he managed to get it out.  We left Khongoryn Els to go to the Ongi River.  We headed through the desert to Bayanzag and stopped off at a town called Bulgan which was the home of a man named Pol. Pol was/is a local farmer who is successfully cultivating the Gobi. He had managed to pursue many careers in his life time including politics and escorting the film crew from Germany who made "The Weeping Camel”.  We all sat in his ger whilst he plied us with fresh salad – cultivated in the desert. He had a western toilet which was great and I think everyone made use of it.  It was especially welcome to those with the squits.

After our visit to Pol’s house we drove on to Bayanzag and to an area more commonly known as "The Flaming Cliffs”.  These cliffs rise out of a flat landscape and are a vivid orange colour.  They have been eroded by the wind to form unique shapes. There were beautiful views and within 30 seconds of walking we found ourselves in eerie quiet. The area is famous for its dinosaur finds and this was where the first dinosaur eggs were found, proving that dinosaurs laid eggs rather than giving birth to live young.  Davey had us all laughing as he picked up 3 "dinosaur eggs”. He was trying to convince us all that he had found 6 neatly placed eggs in a pile that was obviously in a location that no other person had ever been. Andy took pleasure in assuring me that he thought it was petrified dung!

Once we left the Flaming Cliffs we drove towards the Ongi River and on towards our only stay in a tourist ger camp. We were all really looking forward to not having to erect tents.   We had a good time in the vans this day as we discussed films and started off the A-Z Film game.  As we drove across the flat plains the 3 vans raced each other. As we were in Jaagar’s van there was never any fear of us losing…

When we arrived at the ger camp we came across our first "tourist gimic” in Mongolia as on the cliff face behind the river (which was actually so low it should have been called the Ongi stream) were concrete argali sheep.  The ger camp was supposed to represent luxury – which it did in one respect, we had shelter that we didn’t have to put up ourselves, we could stand up inside, unpack fully our back packs, sleep in a bed and be truly warm. The shower, however, which was what everyone was really looking forward to, turned out to be a dribble and I for one was very disappointed and wish I hadn’t bothered undressing for the miserable experience!  We did manage to wash our hair in the freezing cold water in an outside sink.

As we could spend an evening inside – we took the opportunity of having our meal around the table, rice and tomato sauce on the top for starters! Main course was a potato and turnip stew. We also decided it was a great opportunity for a vodka night. Everyone partook of at least one vodka orange or bloody mary and some had more than others! We slept well that night.

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