Fly to: Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia
Internal Transfer: Ulaan Bataar - Olgii (3hrs 30mins)
Ex-Soviet 4x4 Jeeps 9hrs driving without roads across the steppe to Potaniin Glacier, Altai Mountains
Visa required: Yes if British
Time Zone:+8hrs GMT
Day 10, 29/07/09: Mongolia - Altai Mountains
Breakfast at 8am this morning, some of the guys headed off to climb Malchin (4,050m); i opted out purely because i had no desire to climb an unattractive scree slope just because it was over 4,000m. For the first time, possibly ever, i was happy that i genuinely didn't feel 'i had to' climb a peak but that instead i could choose to.
Instead i climbed up onto the glacier morraine wall where there was a Shamanist Earth Shrine. I rolled out my purple foam mat and began collecting stones; as part of a course i'm currently doing we were asked to make an offering, something personal to give to the group; i decided that i would write a personal & recognisable message from Mongolia, "Warm Fuzzies" (Claude Steiner).
I was up there lost in a world of my own, laying out stones and taking pictures, when i returned to camp there was a raucious applause from the locals. They had been watching me up at the shrine and had thought i was performing some sort of ritual ceremony; ha which to an extent i suppose i was. Their reaction completely took me by suprise, it was kind of cool almost like a showing of mutual respect.
I continued to wander down the valley, peacefully embracing its beauty and vastness; as i headed up onto the high ridge i stopped to take breath; as i was balancing on a rock photographing flowers, something rushed passed my leg. My heart fluttered and to my absolute amazement stopped a huge, plump, white hare; once again a smile broke to my lips and i thought about Alice in Wonderland; hmm perhaps with the seagull there's a whole lot of symbolism unfolding during this trip; maybe its unusual or maybe its simply because my eyes are now beginning to open; beginning to see.