Up at 6.00 today to finish packing for an 8.30 start – that soon became a 9.00 start. The two buses- one filled with supplies and rucksacks, and one with all the teenagers who didn’t fit into the first bus – spent the next nine or so hours driving out of Ulaan Bataar, across the country side, in and out of various potholes and occasionally off road altogether, until we arrived at Kharkorum, our first rest stop.
Toilet breaks were strongly anticipated, even if it meant that the buses had to halt in the middle of nowhere for those desperate enough to crouch in or behind a ditch.
There were additional stops – first was to admire the view of a certain valley, and second tp examine a roadside shrine, covered with blue prayer shawls.
Another longer one stop was more recreational, as we visited a Buddhist monastery; one of the few still used for religious purposes in Mongolia. Sadly photos could not be taken without charge, but blue prayer shawls and other souvenirs and supplies could be bought with ease.
When we finally reached our destination for the night, there was some discussion as to whether we should stay in a hostel, or camp. In the interests of saving money, we settled for the latter, despite the temptations of steak for dinner.
The fiasco of what followed – the reckless driving about attempting to find a suitable campsite, the attempts to purchase wood for the fire, the clearing of the campsite, the digging of the latrine (near impossible and eventually ending up amidst the rubble on the far side of a bridge) the various attempts to start a fire, finally cooking and eating a meal of pasta and sauce at 10.00, and washing up afterwards, led us to agree that tomorrow, we will seek a hostel to stay in.
Watching Will attempt to coax the fire into life by blowing on it earned him the nicknames ‘Bellows’ and ‘Fireman Sam’.