Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mongolia, Part 3

You don't particularly crumble when you're told that you'll be walking forty kilometres in four days- that's manageable, even if it makes you groan. You do, however, crumble into a heap onto that smelly ger-camp mattress once you walk eighty plus kilometres in four days.

The first day, we made it fifteen kilometres up a huge, huge mountain only to be told that the campsite was another five kilometres ahead. We ended up walking thirty kilometres that day- up a mountain, down a mountain, up and down two more hills, through two bogs that left my boots mud covered and stinky, through a forest, down a valley.

The next morning, we were furious with the overestimation but certain that day two would be better. It was. Only twenty five kilometres, on mostly flat ground, after which we ended up at a yak farm. Camping next to a yak farm means that you get yak milk in your porridge the next morning, and it's the most delicious thing I've ever tasted.

"Day three will be easy," our wranglers told us. "Only fifteen kilometers."

And it was fifteen kilometres. Straight up a thirty five degree incline. Through a mossy, mossy forest that you sunk into with every step. Our wrangler lost us at some point, taking our raincoatless translator with him. We felt bad for her, because-- you guessed it-- thunder cracked, and it started pouring down about half an hour later.

And then this happened.

Yup. That's hail. In JULY. Needless to say, it wasn't the best time of my life, but the subsequent hours that it took us to get to the top of the hill, down the other side and through the valley to our campsite were some of the most satisfying ever.

Thankfully, day four was uneventful, flat, and only twelve kilometers until we got to the ger camp where we were staying. During our last few days in Mongolia, we headed back to Ulaanbaatar for traditional song and dance performances (including throat singing, or khoomi) and an amusing dinner at BD's Mongolian barbecue.

Then I flew home. Caught up on posts I'd missed during my ten hour layover in Seoul. Arrived in Heathrow very, very happy to see flushing toilets.


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