Winter in October
Trip Start Aug 06, 2009
26Trip End Jan 01, 2010
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Where I stayed
As we were exploring the city upon arrival an artist approached us showing us his beautiful drawings, they were truly wonderful but we couldn't buy them, they'd get crushed in our rucksacks. He then went on to show us his cotton paintings which were even more stunning, we found one we loved and decided to buy it, our first souvenir. Almost immediately we were surrounded by other artists desperate to make a sale, appearing out of thin air, we sadly turned them all down. Peter also noticed a pick pocket lurking behind him and gave him the evils, and one of the artists yelled at him in Mongolian so he left us alone
Eating out here has been very satisfying compared to Moscow where we paid huge amounts for the smallest portions; here we pay next to nothing and leave with our stomachs filled to the brim. Our guesthouse has been lovely, practically empty so it's been like having a flat to ourselves. They picked us up from the train station too, and saved us from all the other hostel messengers crowding around us hoping that we'd stay with them instead. In our room we have our very own TV which was never much use in Russia (the only English speaking channel was fashion tv), but here to our delight we have two movie channels that play films in English one after the other with not a single advert to be seen!
Another unexpected delight touched Peter right to the core - we went into a stationary shop to buy batteries and found a whole room filled with Miffy stuff! He went around frantically taking every pen, rubber, glue stick, pencil case, and anything else he could lay his hands on. The shop keeper kindly brought us a basket.
On the other hand, we have failed to find any open museums or theatres. We wanted desperately to see the dinosaurs. We did manage to find the black market however, and found some top quality long johns for next to nothing to help fend off the cold out in the countryside
We left UB on Saturday expecting to be out with the nomads for one week (already narrowed down from two because of the cold), but ended up being there only one night. There wasn't really anything for us to do there for a whole week as it was winter, and it was so cold that we wouldn't have spent the whole time inside anyway. Since the grandfather and grandmother's family had come to help them move their ger for winter they were going back home to UB on the Sunday so we got a lift back with them. Nevertheless it was still a very interesting experience - getting to see how all the parts of a lamb are prepared and cooked (and getting to eat it) as well as watching the dissection of a goat! Then there was the building of a ger (yurt) and later we were bundled into a tiny car with five other people to go and help with the livestock pen and another ger.
That night we handed out our gifts of a Russian doll with vodka inside from St Petersburg; another much bigger bottle of Chinggis Khan vodka, 3 packets of Marlboro Reds (which only cost something like 60p here), a small sewing kit for the grandmother, and a colouring book and colouring pencils for their granddaughter. They were greatly appreciated (we think) and we were soon offered some vodka from a special bowl as they offered some to the gods with their ring finger
Back in UB again, we've arranged our Vietnam visas, and after two days of trying to find the Thailand Embassy we couldn't get visas as we're not residents here. Peter also went to get his hair cut and we picked a really good hair salon that speaks a bit of English and massages your hands. We decided to go back and get my hair dyed. They prepared something especially, but to my horror they brushed my hair and it was a great challenge to the hair dresser. She eventually combed it all through and after waiting for what felt like hours with the hair dye in, it was washed, hair dryed then brushed again! Oh the agony. As my hair now resembled a frizz ball we asked for it to be straightened and to my surprise it worked! They must have been some bloody good hair straighteners.
So today is our last day in Mongolia before we go to China
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