Day 14

Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
1
15
169
Trip End ??? ??, 2007


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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Thursday, September 28, 2006

It was freezing cold in the morning. Our fire was all but out, so thankfully the Mongolian woman came in at 8am to build it up again, by 9am it was ok to venture out of our beds and get dressed. Breakfast was nice too, muesli with yoghurt, and bread and jam. At 10am our horses arrived and we got saddled up. I had the biggest horse, a black female and I got on and tried to remember how to ride a horse. Back home if you went horse riding you'd get a helmet and a briefing session and a guide that spoke English. Still we're in Mongolia so none of those were applicable and all we were told was the word to make it go "Choo". Walking away from the Ger on horseback was pleasant enough and before long we were trotting along. I felt quite calm about the whole thing; Malin was quite an accomplished rider, while the other four were novices like me. Steve was quickly getting the hang of things and his loud and frequent "Choo?sounds were being heard by my mare who also had a thing for wanting to be at the front. We were going faster than I expected but I got used to it. I was really enjoying myself and we quickly arrived at the next national park ?Manzushir. We got off our horses, paid, and got back on again. It was great riding through the beautiful park on horseback while other tourists had turned up in cars. About four hours later we returned to the Ger and ate lunch, another great meal of rice, beef, glass noodles (never heard of them before), bread and more soup. We were invited back out on the horses but I declined with Ida and Lova and we spent the afternoon lazing in the Ger.

At around 5pm we knew we had to find a bus back to Ulan Bataar. You don't normally have to find your own way back from tours but our driver Sanka had gone back to base the night before. We asked the Mongolian woman about the bus and she said one would be here at the Ger soon which felt weird as I thought you would need to go to a bus stop! The riddle was solved when Sanka turned up in the bus with a new tourist who would be taking our Ger off our hands, that meant we could hitch a ride back to base with him, but it also meant more lunatic driving. The driving was actually worse this time, and at the first petrol station Sanka put no more than one litre of fuel in. Even the woman pumping the gas gave him a funny look as he paid the nominal amount. We had done a big triangle and I wasn't sure how far it was back to Ulan Bataar, but we'd all paid our would-be-bus-fares to Sanka at the petrol station so it was strange that he didn't use the money for fuel. Driving home was tough but the views were great so as long as you didn't look out of the front window you were fine.

Well about 30km from Ulan Bataar the seemingly inevitable happened and we ran out of fuel. I was pretty livid with Sanka and his fuel-money-stealing tactics but we went for a walk up a nearby hill while he hitched a ride with an empty water bottle to the next fuel stop. An hour later we saw Sanka running down the road so we climbed down the hill and met him at the bus. We were on our way but the crazy driving didn't stop. As the bus pulled up at next fuel stop I couldn't believe my eyes as Sanka only bought another 2 litres. Of course we broke down again but this time we were only about 200 metres from the guest house, Sanka used the ignition over and over and used the starter motor to get us to within 50m before that conked out too. We all got out and headed inside, totally unsure of what had just happened.

The Girls were off to Beijing in the morning, while me and Steve have to wait another day for our train. That meant tonight was kind of a last night so we found a Japanese restaurant and celebrated. We carried on at the guesthouse and hit the hay at 4am, around 2 hours before we got up and saw the girls off to the bus station. We're all sure we'll catch up again in Beijing. Malin and Kasja in particular had spent each of the last 9 days and nights with me and it would be a shame if we didn't see each other again.
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