Archive | September, 2011

30th September – UB

30 Sep

After sorting out some washing, we took the local bus into the centre of town (no. 14 or 27) which is only 400T each. This works out as about 20p each way. It is another sunny day and its starting to warm up.

We arrived just in time to meet Dr G and walked over to Millies Cafe. A great place to buy western food if you need a change from mutton after your time in the countryside. It is popular with expats and so if you are looking for someone to chat with …. this is the place! We even met up with the owners of the Fairfield Guest house there!

After lunch we went back to Dr G’s office. She is a lovely lady!

We tried to go to the Natural History Museum but just got to the door and the security guard told us it was closing, even though the posted opening hours were until 4.30pm (and it was only 2.30pm). Not sure why … maybe end of season.

We spent some time wandering around town looking for a fishing shop but never quite got there … maybe we walked right past? By the time we gave up it was nearly 3.30pm and we thought that the toy museum (which had been recommended) would be closed by the time we got there. We  decided to head back to the guest house so that Marjool could have a haircut.

Tomorrow we head out of town to the national parks to the east. UB seems like a fun place to be, but when you are camping and have only old scruffy, crumpled clothes and hiking shoes, you can’t really make the most of it. The people in UB tend to be well dressed and smart … Camping by the river is more our style …. nobody cares if you smell of woodsmoke and have mud and dust on your clothes there!

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29th September – UB

30 Sep

Woke up this morning and it was still very cold!

Just in case you thought it was only cold outside the camper …

That lump under the duvet is Marjool …. can’t understand why she is not leaping out of bed this morning? Not only is it cold, but she has a day hanging around in a garage specialising in 4×4 accessories (ARB Mongolia), while they check the diff lockers that had developed a leak and were not working. I can’t see what’s wrong with a day like that!

We arrived at the ARB Mongolia unit and it was impressively clean, tidy and well organised. The staff were really helpful both here and in Australia where we had the units originally fitted. Australia liaised with the facility in Mongolia and made sure that they had all the spares to fix the problem. Thanks ARB and Norman at Kea who also helped to communicate with the various parties to get the problem sorted out. This is ARB Mongolia….

Within an hour of arriving Troopy was up on the lift and the rear diff housing was being removed.

The work was carried out with lots of care and the faulty seals were replaced and the unit reassembled and checked. We finally left at about 6.30pm with working lockers. Good news if it snows again or we get stuck in another river!

Our contact at ARB Mongolia was Enkhbayar (he speaks excellent English) and in Australia Danny and Jessie. Thanks!

Some of the ARB  team here. Enkhbayar is the one on the left ….. so if you need your car fixed in Mongolia …. this is the place! It is also handy as it is just behind the main square.

After another scary drive through UB traffic we headed back to the guest house to warm up. It is a warm and cosy place … maybe we should have slept inside??

Tomorrow we are are off to lunch with Dr G, a friend of Steve and Jane’s from their time in UB.

28th September – UB

30 Sep

It was another cold night in the camper … still OK under all our blankets and duvets, but not nice getting out in the morning!

We could have stayed in a nice warm room, but after hearing stories of peoples car wheels getting stolen in UB, we thought that we would rather be in the car. Although I am sure it is perfectly safe here with the security guard and gates. We also had the choice of a ger but they did not look much warmer!

The Oasis is a great place with nice friendly staff. The owners are a German / Austrian couple and they have worked hard over many years to help some of the less well off residents of UB. They now have a bath house for locals, a woodworking shop, hairdressers, cafe and tourist gers and rooms. This provides employment as well as a service to both tourists and locals.

We caught the bus into the city centre. It was bitterly cold and walking around was not that pleasant, but we eventually found the ARB workshop and arranged to come back in the morning to see what could be done with the diff. The rest of the day was spent wandering around the various shops including the State Department Store.

We will need our hot water bottles tonight … the camper is still covered with ice and snow!

27th September – Ulaanbaatar

28 Sep

All through the night the wind was blowing hard and we could suddenly see why the dunes had built up in this spot. The canvas sides of our pop top were flapping away, but not enough to make us worry about damage.

In the morning we headed on to UB with the roads getting better all the time. You still have to be aware of sudden and large potholes in the road. If you watch out for skid marks it gives you a bit of a warning!

The traffic was heavy and it took us two hours to get from the west of the city to the east.

 

 

We arrived in the Oasis Guest House later in the afternoon. They were happy for us to park in their carpark to sleep but with the use of showers, cafe and nice warm common area with wifi access.

It is getting cold now with a biting wind. Weather is definitely on the change. In that way we may as well be in the city as out in the wilds.

We made contact with ARB in an attempt to solve a problem with our diff lockers. Kea and ARB in Sydney have been very helpful getting us in touch with ARB Mongolia. We will be dropping in to see them while in UB.

Evening spent in the warm ….

26th September – Mongol Els

28 Sep

Quite a ‘warm’ night and didn’t even have to wipe the condensation off our roof . Looks like it might even rain today. Headed south with the intention of going to some hot springs. Lovely scenery, wooded rolling hills and lots of horses around.

 

 

We didn’t see any cars around and the track in places was very rocky. After a while we realised that we were heading the wrong way along an old logging track that got steeper and rougher. We couldn’t get to the right track as it meant going through very boggy land with a stream running through it.  We either had to go a long way back and start again or give it a miss. We decided to head back to Tsetserleg, pick up some groceries and have a coffee in the Fairfield guest house before heading off to Olgii Nuur.

A bit later we were on our way east, the road is supposed to be paved all the way to Ulaanbaatar from here, although there a few diversions onto dirt where there are roadworks.

Not our day for navigation today as, after an hour or two, we suddenly realised that somehow we must have taken a wrong turn. Odd as we can’t really remember passing a juction. Before we knew it, we had arrived at Kharkhorin. The last couple km took a bit longer as we had to follow a herd of goats across the bridge into the town.

 

Wouldn’t be so bad but it means that we gone way past the lake where we were going to stop for a couple of days. Graham was grumpy as he was looking forward to fishing there. While he was getting over it I headed off into Erdene Zuu Khiid which is the first Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia, situated in a walled compound with 108 stupas spread around its perimeter.

 

By now the weather had started to change with spits of rain and a cold wind blowing. We decided that we may as well continue on towards UB and get a few things done.

The closer we get to UB the more signs we see for tourists ger camps and minibuses with tourists in. We also passed a french cyclist who was on his way to UB. It had taken him 5 months to get here and was planning to continue to Australia! His eyes were red raw from the dust and his skin was dry and weathered. It was also cold and even without the wind chill it was only 3 degrees. We felt positively lazy in comparison! We wished him luck, wound up the window and guiltily turned the heater up!

Further along the road we came to an area called Mongol Els where there are a series of sand dunes. They appear where you would not expect to see anything like that and, although small, they are interesting to stroll through and make an unusual camp spot. Even better as they are on our way!

 

As often happens dog or two come up and sit with us through the evening. I think it is just that they want company, but they often stay to guard us overnight.

 

We heated water for drinks and the hot water bottle on a small camp fire. We still have about 15 litres of our Russian methylated spirites … at this rate it will last right through China as well!

 

Tomorrow into the big city!

 

25th September – Just outside Tsetserleg

26 Sep

We headed out of town in the direction of the hot springs filling up with fuel on the way. We only got a few km out of the town and crossed a river (by bridge) which looked nice for camping and fishing. We headed along the right bank into the trees and stopped for the afternoon. We decided to give the car a clean (although I was in the photo it was a joint effort … just in case you thought Marjool was lazy!).

 

 

After lunch Marjool cleaned out the inside of the camper (more work!) while I sneaked off to fish. I expected it to be better later in the afternoon but it was worth a try. There are actually lots of fish in the river here and before long we had a few for dinner.

 

 

The local lads were fishing off the bridge and invited me to join them. These are actually the first people we have seen fishing since we arrived in Mongolia. They were using little fish caught from the shallows as bait but I did not see them catch. As I caught fish they ran back to the camper with them and even helped de-scale them and wrap them in foil with garlic and oil to cook. They also ran off to get firewood. We actually shared the fish.

 

 

In the evening I carried on fishing …. it got better and better as dusk approached and we caught another six fish.

 

 

The evening was much warmer and we sat by the camp fire.

 

 

 

 

The big rocks were again wrapped in our  ‘crawling under the car sheet’ and put in the camper as a radiator. In fact cloud came in through the evening and it was a warm night.

Tomorrow we will start moving towards UB. There are some lakes and rivers to stop at on the way.

 

 

24th September – Tsetserleg

25 Sep

Before we set off on the trip our friend and neighbour Mary Cook had introduced us via e-mail to a couple that lived and worked in Mongolia. We exchanged a few e-mails with Mark and Gill but would not be able to visit them as they would be returning to the UK before we arrived back. It was only when we got to Fairfield that we realised, on talking to the new Australian owners, that it was this guest house that they ran!

 

 

The staff all talked very fondly of them and obviously missed them. One of them said that is though part of the family was missing! We arranged to get the staff together so that we get a team photo for Mark and Gill. We hope that you like it!

 

 

The staff are all really friendly and helpful and seem a happy bunch.

 

 

The guest house is a popular stopping off point for overland trips in this area and several Mongol rally teams seem to pass through.

 

 

The menu incluse several things with chips, full English breakfast, pancakes, home made bread and lots of cakes. How can you pass it by?!

 

 

As Troopy was parked in a nice secure yard behind the guest house we felt relaxed as we went around the town. We stopped at a photo printing lab and got the pictures printed  that we had taken inside some of the country gers on the way. We then got envelopes and Marjool got the guest house staff to check that we had the addresses right before taking them to the post office to post.

 

 

Afterwards we went for a walk in the hills around the temple. We were hoping to visit the museum but it was closed for the weekend at this time of year. Still it was nice to stretch the legs and in the thin air you notice the exercise.

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow we will move on along the road towards UB which is still over 400km away. We would expect to get there before the weekend.