we crossed the russia-mongolia border last night with no problems from the officials. the russians board the train when you leave the country, then the mongols board when you enter. same goes for the mongolia-china border. it sure is comforting knowing that you have met all the requirements for the coutries you visit. we woke up this morning in ulaan-bataar, the capital city of mongolia with about a million people. mongolia is the most sparsely populated country on earth. lots of land, few people. the city of UB is not pretty. its very industrial-looking, dry, dusty and grey. i imagine its hard to make a city look nice in this climate. the country-side around the city is very cool, though. there are hardly any trees covering the mountains. theres just so much space.
the swedes have gotten off in UB, and a mongolian couple and their 4 yr old daughter has taken their place. what a great family! how refreshing it is to have a child in the cabin! the affection they share with each other is off the charts. it was such a joy to watch them play with their daughter. they were very willing to share whatever they had for food, and i was very willing to eat it. (at this point, i am back to normal for some reason. my stomach is fine and im eating normally.) they brought sheep meat from their own farm, mongolian sausage, juice, fruit and other goodies. the mother spoke very good english, which was helpful for the conversation.