Trip Start May 16, 2005
50Trip End Nov 01, 2006
After paying our park fees, no doubt in part going to make sure that our trusty rangers didn't go thirsty, we set off towards a local Nadaam festival. After the pomp and ceremony of the Nadaam at Moron, this was somewhat of a contrast. Local dignitaries sat around the arena on logs while the locals scrapped it out on the battlefield. A number of locals had set up stores selling everything from food and drink to bike wheels and nasty Chinese T-shirts. We opted for the comfort of a local café - cunningly disguised as a large open-fronted tent with reindeer skins covering the floor and a welcoming stove. Keiran being the plucky chap that he is and never wanting to miss an opportunity to immerse himself in local culture ordered a plate full of khuushuur. Basically take various bits of 'meat', mince it up, put it in some form of batter and proceed to deep fry to such an extent that the Scots could learn a thing or two. The end result, against all odds was actually delicious, especially with tomato ketchup. Poor Sonia was laughed out of town when she suggested that it might be equally delicious without the meat. Let us not forget here that the Mongolian language does not actually have a word for "vegetable". Good thing we had brought most of our food for the month from Ulaan Bataar. More entertainment was had later in the day when we stopped in to see the local Dukha reindeer herders
After a bitterly cold night passed in a sleeping bag that was literally a sheet with ideas above its station, we headed out onto the lake itself. Having hired a canoe, the three of us piled in and very nearly piled out again. Stability was clearly going to be an issue as was a certain team member's health. Quite out of the blue, Sonia's aches and pains as a result of the crash became so bad that she couldn't paddle.... Only once the physical exercise was clearly behind us did she begin to feel better. Strange or what? Having paddled for miles across the cobalt blue water we stopped to make ourselves a fire on a rocky beach and brewed up what can only be described as a world-class cup of tea. I don't recall what we actually had for lunch (probably pasta and tomato sauce as usual) but I do have vivid memories of Sonia spot-welding it to the bottom of the pan. That evening we set up camp right beside the lake in what has to be one of the most awe inspiring camp-sites in the world. After the chilly experiences of the night before, it was time to get ready for bed. This entailed putting on every available piece of clothing, including hats and gloves in an effort to keep, at best, warm and at worst, alive.
Having made it through another freezing night, Kerian and I set out to climb the peak behind our campsite
By the end of the following day, we were all beginning to have second thoughts about this trip. Ivan (see Ivan the Terrible entry) had begun to reveal his true colours after freewheeling a heavily laden jeep down the stupidly steep hill back towards Moron showing little concern for the safety of his own passengers or other road users. After several hours bouncing around in the back of the jeep, we were delighted to reach the next port of call - the famous bath-house in Moron. Expectations were high - there was meant to be a barber for a quick trim and shave. Alas no, for what greeted us was a run down soviet style block with basic facilities. Clearly having a shower with hot water and a light that worked was too much to ask for....