For those interested in such things, my current timezone is BST - 6 (UTC - 7).
31 August 2013
I am here: 47 45.843 N 105 52.744 E at 1316m as of 20/08/2013 09:40 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:47.76406,105.87907
The last of the Ger camps.
Cold and wet when we arrived, so lit the fire in the Ger. Warm and toasty in no time.
The weather changed, as it does in Mongolia, and warm and sunny outside + fire inside = very toasty.
Managed to see heard of wild horses (only of their type in Mongolia). About 30 of the 240 in the park.
I am here: 47 13.437 N 102 47.656 E at 1472m as of 19/08/2013 http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:47.22396,102.79427
Group travel has many pros and cons, and overlanding has its own set in addition - you spend 24 hours a day living with total strangers, sometimes for a very long time (eg the other 3 people on tour with me who are doing the whole 120 days) and in close quarters, which is something few of us would do at home.
One of the advantages is that we all look after each other, from the little things like helping put up tents to helping those who get sick.
As per my last entry, I spent yesterday (as per the gps fix) being sick as a dog; a result of dodgy food.
So my thanks to all those on the truck who helped, from helping me put my tent up last night (got the luxury of the spare tent), who checked on me, provided me Vomax (need to get some), and generally nursed me a bit. Thank you all, you are the top of the list in the pros of Overlanding.
(side note: I said before I started this trip that I'd get something, so I'm amazed that I lasted this long without a proper stomach bug. Yes I've had food that's not agreed with me before, but this is the "proper" dose I've been expecting for a few days short of 4 months. Add in that as of Beijing I've only had 1 cold - which given the 17000km we'd driven, the 30 people who'd passed through the truck and the many countries they'd all come from and travelled through, and the countless locals we'd met isn't bad - I think I'm doing fairly well. Hopefully Fate won't see this as a challenge.)
I am here: 47 26.979 N 101 45.139 E at 1589m as of 18/08/2013 03:54 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:47.44966,101.75233
Heavy D&V as a result of eating something which disagreed with me and bouncing across the landscape in the back of a Russian Minivan at high speed, sitting backwards.
2.5 days later and I'm mostly human again. Jim (the driver) mentioned in passing that he suspects it is the spring water at place and not the food, as "we've had a few people get sick after visiting there".
I am here: 47 24.893 N 101 45.933 E at 1600m as of 16/08/2013 07:23 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:47.41489,101.76556
More road building, having collected rocks.
Lots of digging, specifically of the mud from under the truck.
Pulled out by 6 wheel drive Russian truck, which Dashka had acquired for us by walking many km to the nearest town (no mobile coverage, not that there is anyone to phone) through the pouring rain (in which we were digging, road building and then eating lunch).
The cuppa with lunch was most welcome.
Now a "proper" overland journey. :)
Was hot and sunny a couple of hours later.
I am here: 46 56.213 N 102 40.35 E at 1642m as of 15/08/2013 08:54 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:46.9369,102.6725
Almost exactly 24 hours after being stuck here before, we are back at the same spot building a rock road again. Hurrah for soft (near liquid) mud and no 4x4 drive on the truck.
We'd probably have avoided being stuck if we hadn't tried to help a local Russian Minivan which had got stuck (they're 4x4, but the driver didn't plan his river crossing and got stuck), which eventually was unstuck using brute force and ignorance.
I am here: 46 39.337 N 103 11.342 E at 1779m as of 13/08/2013 14:11 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:46.65562,103.18903
Heading back north from the Gobi. Change of landscape, from the very flat, dry, nothingness of the Gobi to greener, hillier, land.
Welcome return of greenery.
I am here: 43 46.629 N 104 4.132 E at 1468m as of 08/08/2013 16:48 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:43.77715,104.06888
After several nights bush camping tonight's home is a Ger camp, which means toilets we don't have to dig, food we don't need to cook, showers! and sleeping in a Ger.
Gers = yurts, to me. I'm sure there are some subtle, local, differences, but to my eye they are the same.
I am here: 46 14.132 N 106 3.867 E at 1549m as of 07/08/2013 04:33 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:46.23554,106.06445
Stop for a walk and lunch (my cook group cooked) in a place which looked like Dartmoor.
Having driven for tens of hours through very flat terrain over several days, finding hills and rocks was a surprise, even if we'd spent a couple of days trying to get there.
I am here: 47 19.284 N 101 39.472 E at 1773m as of 16/08/2013 http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:47.32141,101.65788
After staying in many yurts and Gers over the last 4 months this is almost the last of them.
Lazy day of reading, music, writing emails to a few people and relaxing in the hot springs. After 2 weeks of almost exclusively bush camping, a soak in hot water is a real luxury (I'm normally happy just to have some warm water to wash my hands in after breakfast, assuming we didn't drink all the water in the kettle).
The evening was powered by: Sandra making good on her threat to give me a face mask; dancing with Julia in the middle of the dinning room, much to the confusion and amusement of all (no music and it wasn't a dancy night - she just said "it would be nice to dance now", so we did); excellent local food and Gino's pictures from Cairo to Cape Town - which just makes me want to return to Africa, especially the staggeringly beautiful Namibia.
28 August 2013
27 August 2013
The downside of losing your Kindle is that you haven't just lost the book you were reading, you've lost all your books.
I'm hoping that it is just in a dark corner of my bag, but my gut says otherwise.
Thankfully I've got a few paperbacks with me, a luxury item turned essential. Time to read whatever I find as I go.
26 August 2013
25 August 2013
(this was written on Saturday whilst sat on the train in to London, but not published until now as I returned to the UK (transit to Lima) a few days earlier than expected in order to see people and surprise mum. As I type this she has no idea I'm only a few hundred miles away. :))
This morning I woke up in Reading, which isn't all that shocking given it is where I went to sleep. What is a little more odd in my head is that today I woke up in Reading, yesterday it was Beijing and the day before that it was Mongolia. The day before that again and I was still in Mongolia, but sleeping in a Ger and keeping warm by using a wood burning stove. The day before that and I was bush camping in the middle of nowhere, Mongolia.
Give it a couple of days and I'll be waking up in Miami and then Lima.
Whilst perfectly logical, it somehow feels very unreal.
Much to the amusement of all, Kyrgyzstan has cannabis plants growing wild across the country - where locally it is seen as a pest plant.
Several places we stopped at had fields of it, with one place (the garage were we broke down just outside Bishkek) having 7 feet high plants!