Saturday, October 06, 2007

Mongolia Day 1

Flew to Mongolia with D & L. Was grateful for their company. They made the flight and transit more manageable. Touched down in Ulaanbaatar airport but my bag didn't. Was told to call the airport the next morning. BLEH! Lovely way to start the holiday. JJ met us at the airport with a large bottle of Chinggis Gold Vodka and insisted on a welcome shot so that kinda made up for the mild annoyance. Damn it was good! Spent the night partying at the wedding of someone we didn't even know and only got in through JJ's friend. Free flow alcohol! Woohooo! Survived the night with no hangovers the next day. Said goodbye to D & L around 10a.m. and hello to our O & B; our guide and driver for the next 6 days.

First task of the day... grocery shopping. Since we were gonna be camping in the middle of nowhere, we had to stock up on food (rice, pasta, veges, pre-packed instant meals, fruit, etc...) and water. JJ stocked up on beer.

Drove 2 hours along dusty, bumpy unpaved roads to Hustain National Park. It was a beautiful day, 15 deg C, with cloudless blue skies that stretched as far as the eye could see. Set up camp just outside the border of the national park while O whipped up a yummy dinner of pasta (which turned cold in a matter of minutes). Didn't expect the temperature to drop so much so quickly (3 deg C). Scrambled for warmer clothes and sat down to dinner in pitch blackness save for the light coming from our lamp.

And then I looked up and was completely blown away. The night sky was dotted with millions of stars! Bright twinkling eyes looking down. Such a sight is truly a rare treat for me! (Think big cities) Ordinarily I would barely be able to see a handful of stars in the city sky let alone the Big Dipper sitting just above the horizon; We spent ages just absorbing the magic of
the night, the silence, the tranquility. After about half an hour or more (and a crick in my neck) we were preparing to crawl into our sleeping bags when I noticed a bright pin prick of a glare peeking from above a little hillock in the distance. I passed it off as light from a neighbouring village but the longer we watched, the brighter it became until we realised we were actually watching the rising of the full moon. Again we were content to just sit and watch till the moon settled into her place amongst the stars. I went to bed feeling like there simply couldn't be a better way to end a day. What a privilege!

Here are some pics from the trip... more to come once I sort the other set out.

The Big Dipper!!

Starry starry night

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