Well we are now in Mongolia, to you southerners reading this it's not part of Scotland and to the Northerners it's not a district in London, that would be Inner Mongolia. The place has got a totally different feel to it than Russia, not as gloomy. The people do look like cabbage patch dolls though! When we arrived we were whisked away to our Ger Camp (a Ger is a big felt tent), we drove out of Ulaan Baatar for about 2 hours to the sight. We stopped on the top of a hill at which point they showed us our camp, it was in a beautiful stting in a massive green valley surrounded by hills (suppose it would be if in a valley) and there was nothing else around. But before we went down the tradition is to go round this pile of prayer mound 3 times and put 3 stones on it to show respect to nature and the countryside, everybody else just picked up some little stones but they had to wait while I could find the biggest rocks I could find, you can never be to careful can you!? We were the only ones in the camp so there was just 2 of us in each Ger, they all had 4 types settees stroke bed and a little wood burner, probably the best accomodation on the trip so far. The only down side was the toilet situation, just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it was just a very deep hole in the ground. You need to perform some sort of contortionist act to go to the toilet, really glad I didn't have the trots here. We went of to visit a poor nomadic family as they were advertised but the brand new 4x4 outside suggested they weren't that poor! They were in the middle of lambing and the goats dropping ther liitle kids, a little kid, who I named Charlie became attached to me and stayed with me all of the visit, so I think my new vocation is going to be a Goat Herder as I seemed to be a natural!! In the afternoon we just did some traditional archery and then had one of the best meals so far on the trip and a few beers in the evening. It was over a few beers that I stupidly agreed to get up early to go watch the sunrise. So at 5.15 am Rachael woke us up to go climb the nearest hill to watch the sunrise, it was worth it though it was very idyllic setting to do it. The camp dog came with us which is a lovely dog which just raoms free, but the camp feed it so it keeps the wolves away. We all went horse riding later on apart from Ross who can't ride horses because of his sense of balance, we rode out to see this massive statue of Ghengis Khan they are building made from steel. My horse just seemed to do what he wanted and ignored all my orders but we got there and back without any major dramas. The camp manager on weekends looks after his 2 grandchildren who are about 6 & 7, they loved it because we were all playing with them, the little lad was playingh footabll and the girl was doing what ever the girls do. In the evening we had an a bonfire were the camp staff and somne locals joined us, the kids attached themselves to Rachael and I, they were really adorable. The bonfire turned into a bit of a drinking session with 5 bottles of vodka getting consumed in the Mongolian tradition. The Camp manager fell onto the fire but luckily he was quickly puled of and only suffered a minor burn. The camp has been the hgighlight of the trip so far and we were all sad to leave it this morning. We are now back in UB for the night and we get back on the train tomorrow for our last leg into China. I will get in touch from there and update you on any developments with the toilet situation.
ttfn Gary xx