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The Trans Mongolian
So we're back from the trip to this Great White Lake. O, and we also drove about 6500 km as well....
Posted by: Ivo & Mark
Right now we're in Moscow preparing for the final leg back to the Heimat!
As we said we hooked up with 3 English girls (Rebecca, Hannah and Kimberly) well 2 were from Scotland, anyway. Also the driver, Daba, and our lovely guide from the Golden Gobi: Erika.
Well for the people who don't know Mongolia very well, they don't have many paved road, the ones that are, are better to avoid. So we spent many hours bouncing up and down in our Russian Limo Van. First day we set off to Lake Oggi (Ugly) wich turned not so ugly. The first night we stayed at a family ger and played frisbee with their children, which was a lot of fun. In the evening we enjoyed our Vodka and company. Ivo was woken by Daba, just after he went to bed, for a morning run, on bare feet of course, while the sun was dawning. The next destination was the Great White Lake already, which was another 10 hours in the van. Along the way we sometimes got of the dirttracks to just follow the GPS receiver, and went straight over mountains, rivers etc.: off the beaten track indeed!
The Great White Lake was stunning located in a volcanic area. Of course we went for a swim, but the Great White Lake turned out to be more Green than White. Another evening with stunning views, beautiful sunset and lots of vodka. The next day we woke ourselves on the back of a Mongolian horse. They only speak Mongolian, so we had to practise the word Chou, and then, especially Mark's horse, went off! But, it turned out that both Ivo & Mark weren't too bad of a horse drivers...! during the trip, we went to an old volcano and climbed into its crater, and visited some volcanic caves. Finally, after 4 hours or so, we got back to our ger for some r&r and soothing our asses :-D Of course, also some more vodka afterwards... Karakourum, the ancient Mongolian capital... again... after some 6 hours of driving. Unfortunately, the Mongolian cities are not that spectacular, to be honest. It's more like a big cluster of gers surrounded by wooden fences. During the evening we got entertained by an old Mongolian guy who played ancient Mongolian songs on traditional Mongolian instruments... very interesting! The next day we went to visit the Monastery in Karakourum which was enticing, and afterwards we went to look at the 'phalloid rock' that pointed towards the cheekely named 'vaginal slope'... we'll leave that for your own interpretation. After a short drive, we came to a so-called 'semi-dessert' where we camped in a ger and... drove some camels over sanddunes! That evening, we went out with some other fellows (Canadians and an American, was it?) in a neighbouring tourist camp. The last day was merely driving back to UB and along the way we stopped at a National Park where we observed the Wild Horses. That evening back in UB, we went out with the girls for dinner and later to Khan Brau for beers and cakes...
Finally, the next day we said goobye to our ladyfriends who went to Beijing, and spend our time waiting for the train that took us to Irkutsk!!!!! Yes, into Russia....
At around 2 o'clock, Ivo & Mark got on the train and were quite nackered after an intensive, sleepless, week, and thus slept quite a lot. Ivo, even had troubles keeping his eyes open when crossing the border into Russia!!!! He was woken by Russian officials even! Of course, crossing into Russia is always an interesting event. Some hours later we saw our first glimpse of Lake Baikal...
At arrival in Irkutsk, we got picked up and were brought to Listvianka, near Lake Baikal, which was very nice, but quiet and there wasn't a lot to do... just watching the rain clouds hanging over Lake Baikal... if only the weather was a bit better, but hey, we were quite lucky so far! After two nights at the lake, we went back to Irkutsk and visited Tolstoy Museum along the way, and were dropped off at someone's house where we were given a room and two beds. Oh, and two cats :) Most of our time spend in Irkutsk was watching the people go by in a nice, rustic, pizza place................. Of course, we did do SOME sightseeing ;-)
Then, the biggest distance so far: from Irkutsk to Moscow; about 80 hours on a train... Doesn't that sound like fun???? We even crossed the border of a continent, though we almost missed it! Luckily, Ivo was very observative.
Finally, we got to Moscow... but we'll leave those stories for the next time...