May 16, 2005
Nov 01, 2006
We checked ourselves into a luxurious ger hotel that evening, perched high above the spectacular Chuluut gorge
. Luxurious in the sense that it had a toilet and a shower block and was even rumoured to have hot water. Sonia and Keiran went riding again whilst I was once again lured by the call of the river. I remember it as a stunningly clear but bitterly cold night with brilliant stars. I also recall being chastised by Sonia the next day because Keiran and I were refusing to move until we had finished our tea drinking ritual. In truth, I suspect that the tea was just a delaying tactic in the face of another impending trip with Ivan. We were again treated to more motoring lunacy and the diary entry that we made simply said 'very bad driving.' I don't recall any specific incidents from this day aside from the fact that we spent much of it going around in circles as Ivan asked people for directions. Finally we arrived at the hot springs where we were pleased to see a familiar face. Earlier in the trip we had been driving along what appeared to be a deserted path but after a bend, we were horrified to see this lady attending to nature's business by the side of the track. Much laughter was had as we sped past as the look on her face was priceless. Despite her bashfulness on our first meeting, she had clearly rediscovered her confidence by our second encounter. True to her French roots, she totally peeled off and jumped into the hot springs. Sonia shrieked from the ladies pool as more of these Frogs began to expose their saggy posteriors for all to admire. Fortunately, behind a large screen in the men's pool, we were spared this horrible sight. By this point, Sonia had had more than enough and was even moaning about loss of appetite. As there was nobody else in the men's pool, Sonia decided to take refuge with us. Our peace was soon shattered by the arrival of a squad of rotund and balding French men. Needless to say we bolted from the pool before being subjected to another full frontal assault at the hands of our French adversaries.
Next stop on our tour was a dormant volcano, affording amazing views over the rugged landscape and where Chukka began throwing stones into the caldera, despite the fact that there were people down below. He thought this was particularly funny. Iditot. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Ivan set his sights on a convoy of well equipped and impossibly clean Land Cruisers ahead of us. Proceeding at a steady but acceptable pace, their occupants were probably enjoying the drive. Needless to say, not us. As we went racing past, the stickers on the cars revealed that they had come overland the whole way from London, picking up the trail of the Silk Route. I'm sure I detected a hint of pity on their faces for the unsuspecting tourists who hired this Mongolian madman.