Katherine's Trip 2005/06 travel blog

As soon as we arrived in Ulaanbaatar we felt a considerable culture difference. It sounds odd, but travelling through Russia had been quite a gradual transition, you noticed a darkening of the hair and eyes, (apart form irkutsk where there has been quite a lot of Scandinaivian influence" ) but as soon as you get to Mongolia, it feels very much a part of Asia. Our guide is a hyperactive girl called Puji who insisted on taking us to a Mongolian nightclub called "New Hollywood" (It was in what looked like a school gymn and reminded me of something out of Heartbreak High) This was a totally weird sitaution, it was a nightclub like any other nightclub (well ok maybe a bit better than the Patch!) but it seemed as if the western culture had been pushed upon these people and they were unaware of how to react to it. The music is blaring out, but they were all just sat there looking at each other (too loud to talk) and drinking beer, not really knowing what to do with themselves. Very bizarre, it felt a bit like the Stepford wives or something. However, after a few hours the international language of beer had soon got everyone talking and before we knew it were having a dance off to Beyonce with a couple of Mongolian girls....

The next day we awake with serious hangovers to be driven out to the countryside to stay in the traditional Mongolian ger huts. On route we stoppped off at a buddhist monastery, which apparently houses the biggest buddha in all of asia (not sure about that one !!!) That was pretty cool, despite Vidar (the Norwegian guy) being totally disrespectful and doing Eddie Murphy impressions using their prayer wheels (An Extract from "Coming to America" I believe)Problem was I couldn't stop laughing at it which I guess made me as bad as he was ....

Anyway, later that afternoon we arrive at the Ger camps , and I am totally in awe from the word go. The countryside is just indescribable, you can see for miles and miles and miles and all there is are these little white ger huts in clusters of three or four, surrounded by herds of wild horses and cows and goats and yaks and all sorts of wildlife. It is a bit like camping in "luxury" or so I thought when I arrived. Each ger has three or four beds in it as well as an open fire where you can burn wood (in the words of Watchdog's Lynn Faulds Wood "a potential death trap" if you ask me) but it all looks very sweet.....Until you go to bed....at which point like something quite literally out of "the hills have eyes" the ger comes 'alive'...the noise from the crickets and grasshoppers and god knows what else is unbearable and the walls start moving before your very eyes. Quite a horrific experience but you are literally so knackered by that point that you just close your eyes and try and get under the covers and stay there, despite being divebombed by some unknown bug at various points through the night. The next day we woke up to beautiful blue skies and left for a short walk which turned into a 12k hike over hills and mountains to a buddhist temple that we could see in the disctance from our ger. We got back at about 4pm in time to depart on our Mongolia Family visit which deserves an entry all of its own...

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