Jun 052010

We’re now in Olgi at the far west of Mongolia. Most folk get here with a flight from Ulanbataar in the east but we flew from Kazakhstan.
It’s got a nice feel around here for some reason, despite it being like the wild west. Big buzzards (or some massive bird like that) hover over the market, hills crop up all around, and there’s not many places to eat at all.
The airport landing strip is just dirt with no tarmac, and the roads that lead out of town are just two tyre tracks heading over the landscape. Most cars are 4x4s and now I’ve got a soft spot for dodgy old Russian jeeps and vans.
We met a German and English lads last night who had just returned from a big trek. We had went out for a drink in a ‘secret garden’ spot….and had the friendliest looking chancer to date. I had a beer and Ciara a bottle of wine (which she hated) which in total cost about $6. The smiley friendly young local lass came over when we sat down and then attempted to charge us 10000 Tugrik (about $6.50) each to sit down and drink it – that was like ten times the price of my beer. We laughed and then just walked away a returned our drink to the hotel. We returned with the lads (one of whom can speak quite fluent Mongolia as he worked in UB)….she then just tried to ask me for 2000 for both of us so I called the guy over who asked why she had asked for 10000 before…said it was a mistake (it was very clear it was totally understood as she had written ‘per person’ in English in our ‘negotiating’ notebook)….and we just walked away, sat down and drank our drinks. Cheeky bugger. Couldn’t believe it.
Anyway, we unexpectedly got picked up at the airport yesterday by the tour company I had been emailing which was a really pleasand surprise. The airport’s just a few k’s from the town centre. We went to their office and spoke about the tour and it’s all sorted from Sunday to Friday. We’ll be SW of Olgii, dropped off about 180km away at one of the big lakes, then walk with our guide for 4 days away from all civilisation, getting picked up at another lake. The first night we’re staying with an Eagle Hunter and his family, then it will be camping….although our main bag, tents and food will be carried by a pack camel and horseman so we’re hoping it’s going to be quite easy going…although it’s 5-6hrs walking each day.
After that we’re thinking of getting the public bus to Ulanbataar which takes about 3 days….and I reckon about 99% of that will be on dirt roads…I’m sure we may live to regret it but it’ll be one of those travel experiences we’ll look back at afterwards I hope….and it’s $250 cheaper than flying! We may stop on the way for a night…otherwise it will just be food stops and maybe the odd few hours for a kip.
1600km for $50 is pretty good value though!
After that we’ll be in Ulanataar around next Tuesday and hopefully on a tour the day after that.

 Posted by at 6:42 am

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