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 13, 01/08/09: Mongolia - Altai Mountains
Up at 4:15am for our morning flight to U.B, it seemed quite bizarre to be leaving a member of our team alone in Olgii - it's certainly not a place i'd enjoy being left alone in.
The flight was pretty full and without prior warning the pilot landed at a place called Murun, where we stopped basically in a field for a 20min refuel. My arse & legs are itching like mad...it seems the Olgii Ger beds might have had a few little critters already sleeping in them!
The plane flew fairly low for the duration of the flight which meant we were awarded with some breath taking views of the Mongolian landscape, such a vast and varied country; from the sky some of the lakes were simply enormous. Ian commented that a lot of the lakes simply evapourate throughout the season, which is quite incredible considering their sheer size.
It was nice to get back to the Palace hotel in U.B and have a long, hot shower...poor Martin, who knows how he's getting on around the perimeters of Olgii's down-town?!
After we showered and changed Baysaa took us for a slap up 'steak' meal...obviously just to ensure constipation returns & then on to the infamous 'black market' - jeez it was huge (the steak & the black market). Everything that could be imagined was sold here; market stall after market stall, we even came across 'pet' stalls; least i think they were pet stalls. I felt like i was about to partake in an episode of 'animal rescue' as my eyes met with those of the little puppies and bizarrely there were also baby hedgehogs! I commented to Baysaa about them & she preceded to tell me about the pet hedgehog she'd had when she was little - ha i think i'll park my hedgehog comment along with the one about the 1,000yr old giant Turkey/Turtle & the one asking her, "where Chinngis Khan comes from"...to Baysaa's horror she said, 'Mongolia!!' i simply meant where abouts...
The black market was an amazing experience, there was a real hussle & bussle to the place, a genuine buzz; from here we headed out for a Mexican; just to see how much food we really could consume! The evening finished visiting a cultural show; there were contortionists, instrument players, singers, dancers but the act that stood out the most was listening to the Mongolian throat singers...wow - incredible! Sat here now i can't even begin to describe the sound they make when they're singing; it really is one of those experiences you have to see and hear for yourself to be able to fully comprehend & appreciate.