Today was a very exiting day. Packing our belongings and supplies into an 18 seater mini bus, we drove out of Ulaan Baatar, and the shanty town that surrounds, with both makeshift houses and gers, to a valley with houses at its opening, a military outpost and checkpoint, and finally the summer camp! It is fairly big, but still seems somewhat small and compact.
The children are all really sweet. The boys in our group forbade us from going ‘aaaah’, but it’s so hard! The first thing we did when we arrived was to go on a two hour hike with the children, through some really beautiful landscapes, and they kept picking lovely wildflowers and presenting them proudly to us. By the end some of the boys were staggering under bouquets. Alex in particular seems to have gained the affections of a particularly enamoured little girl; he has decided to pretend he is married! I have made friends with another girl called Sarah.
Later on we tried to start a fire in the designated cooking area, but since it had started to rain and the wood was damp, we couldn’t manage it. In the end one of the women who work here came to our aid, setting up the stones to shelter the fire and using pieces of bark. Better informed, I am certain that next time i.e. tomorrow, we will fare better.
The toilets. The less said about them, the better. Despite the smell of a mass pit dug for sanitary purposes, since it’s set far away from everything else, we’re not too fussed. At least we don’t have to worry about whether the toilet will flush!
We are enjoyed purchased bottled water without having to rely on iodine sterlized dregs all the time.
I finish this entry in the comfort of my tent (only slightly crammed by the added presence of Georgie and Emma, with my money belt by my head – despite the friendliness of the children, we have not forgotten that some of them are former pickpockets, and have decided to play it safe by organising to have a continual watch on the tents at all times. Only slightly spoiling the atmosphere.