Day 2 - Ulaanbaatar
We could not get our luggage, and we obviously have no toothbrush or anything. We finally took off past Siberia. We took a flight to Beijing where we had a 4-hour stopover. We followed the twilight, leaving at 7 pm from Beijing. We arrive at 10 pm in Ulaanbaatar, but at no point in the journey have we fallen into darkness.
The evening light simply replaced the morning light. This phenomenon always fascinates me when traveling to Central Asia or the Far East. I write this notebook again in the middle of the night, but in the light of a dawn in the sky.
As expected, we found our friend at the airport and took the same flight to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Our friend had already arrived the day before and was waiting for us in the youth hostel. Our flight to Ulaanbaatar was long because we waited 1 hour before taking off. Only we did not land because the pilot of our plane felt that there was too much wind.
An announcement was made on the plane to warn us that we were returning to Beijing. So we have 6 hours of waiting at the airport. We finally boarded the plane to Beijing and landed at Ulaanbaatar 12 hours after our initial arrival time. Fortunately, our guide was waiting for us at the airport and took us to the hostel.
We first went for a walk in the Ulaanbaatar town market, where our guide bought food and showed us the traditional clothes of the country. Then we drove to the Terelj National Park where we had our first yurt experience. The nomad family shares with us the traditional camel milk tea accompanied by dry cakes.
We also taste their famous Genghis Khan vodka, that Mongolians drink, without any diluent! We were prepared for a road trip in a Russian van, accompanied by our cook, guide and our driver.
Day 3 - Gobi Desert
At 4am, I woke up because of a flashlight. Someone was standing in the yurt. As the light went out as soon as I moved, it was obvious that someone had entered our yurt, though not very big. We had several valuables, including wallet, passport, and our iPad. We continued our road trip by redoubling our vigilance.
We headed south to reach the northern Gobi Desert. The road is long and deserted and there is nothing except some yurts here and there. The vegetation cannot grow on such arid land and the wind is at times violent. The guide explained to us that in the south of Mongolia it rains only once a month and this day is the happiness of the few inhabitants.
Then we descend into the heart of the Gobi Desert, where we saw many camels, wild horses, goats, some foxes, vultures and white marmots. Fortunately, our van is off-road because the roads are often steep and it happens to our driver to take shortcuts in stony paths. We walk to the top of the highest desert dune to admire the sunset.
For the night, we meet the Mongolian family who provides a yurt for us. The yurt is very modern and even equipped with TV and wifi. There is a stove in the middle of the room, and dry camel dung to fuel the fire! We would like to talk to families, but so far none of them spoke an English word. It's a bit frustrating for us, but we're watching their way of life with a lot of curiosity.
Our guide gives us a lot of explanations about the traditions. In the evening, we go to a bar in a small town in the Gobi desert. We had a great time that allowed us to forget our misadventures!