31 August 2013

Current timezone

For those interested in such things, my current timezone is BST - 6 (UTC - 7).

Excuse the blog post dump

A lot of older bits there, but I needed to get them posted.

I can now start on the South America stuff and make an attempt at some reflections on the first 120 days.

The last Ger (not yurt) camp (day 118)

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.

The last bushcamp (day 117)

I am here: 47 47.366 N 102 48.956 E at 1363m as of 19/08/2013 http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:47.78943,102.81595

The benefits of group travel - being sick (day 117)

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.)

Interesting combinations (day 116)

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".

Digging time (day 114)

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.

Not a new meat (day 113)

I am here: 47 13.437 N 102 47.644 E at 1470m as of 15/08/2013 14:49 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:47.22396,102.79407

Horse stew for dinner. Had far better horse before.

Stuck in the same place, again (day 113)

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.

Bushcamping in pastures new (day 111)

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.

Gers, not yurts

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.

Not Dartmoor

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.

Last night in the Gobi

I am here: 44 45.044 N 104 2.961 E at 1118m as of 12/08/2013 15:13 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:44.75074,104.04935

After several days of travelling through the Gobi, time to head north.

Not the last of the Ger camps (day 114)

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.

29 August 2013

28 August 2013

This isn't the Mongolia I saw


Life in a bag

Leaving London after an all too short transit through, on route to Lima via Miami.

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

Bush camp

I am here: 44 3.156 N 103 23.794 E at 1403m as of 11/08/2013 15:49 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:44.0526,103.39658

More Gers that aren't yurts

I am here: 43 46.485 N 102 20.364 E at 1436m as of 11/08/2013 00:45 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:43.77477,102.33941

Another new meat

I am here: 43 29.227 N 103 23.669 E at 1527m as of 09/08/2013 15:31 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:43.48712,103.39449

Camel. Yum.

A lot likes beef, for those wondering.

Ice canyon

I am here: 43 29.36 N 104 3.825 E at 2259m as of 09/08/2013 08:11 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:43.48935,104.06375

A short (3 ish hours) walk through the famous ice canyon. Not that there was any ice, it's the summer!

25 August 2013

Waking up somewhere new

(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.

Yurts in Uzbekistan (in pictures)

The first of the yurt camps, somewhere in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan - the land of giant weed plants

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!

The hot springs in Kyrgyzstan (in pictures)

Silk on The Silk Road (in pictures)

Visited a silk factory whilst in Kyrgyzstan.

Waterfall in Tblisil (in pictures)

The first city I've been in which has a waterfall.

24 August 2013

More views of Karakol

More snapshots from my phone. Excuse the wonky horizon.

From The Crossing

We waited for days to get that ticket. And then days more to actually arrive at where it took us to.

Batumi, Georgia (in pictures)

Some snapshots, but ones which give a very very one-sided view of the town.
More pics on my Camera, which hopefully will balance things.