Our Nomad Life

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Our Nomad Home

We have left the heat and rush of China and arrived safely in Mongolia.  We spent our first 2 nights in a Ger (round nomad house), which was fantastic.  Address: No 8, Elstei Ger Lodge, Middle of Mongolia.  Waldu loved it as he got to light a fire inside.  We ate traditional Mongolian food, mainly Mutton and lots of berries, and met some great fellow Trans-Sub travellers from Oz.

We visited our nomad neighbours who treated us to tea (salty, milky tea), dried salty and sweet yoghurt biscuits with some sort or sour milk yoghurt cream on top, washed down with what looked and tasted like vodka (made also from yoghurt) and, wait for it…femented horse milk beer, which Waldu just loved (not).  “It tastes like salty, milky, runny yoghurt – everything you want a beer not to taste like.  He then made up for it with several local beers at the bar later that night, broke his thongs and had to resort to local Mongolian shoes (nice new look).

While we were out in the countryside we checked out Chinggis Khan (as you do), who stands towering above the land. 

Then we made our way back over the pot hole main highway (almost a single lane for BOTH directions) to the capital, Ulaanbattar, where we feasted on sirloin steak and dessert and local red wine (not bad) for a total sum of $30 AUD.  What a bargain.  Oh, Wendy we also found Wendy Bakery – lovely pastries.  Yes, we are now regaining the lost weight of China. 

We also meant some local Mothers celebrating a family reunion and an 80th anniversarry. Our local guide translated their well wishes for our travels. We have really enjoyed Mongolia and recommend it to fellow travellers.  The food is good, teh country side beautiful as are the people.  Oh, and they don’t eat their dogs here (just horses), so Waldu found a new pet to bring home.

Man's best friend

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All aboard!

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Beijing Railway Station (early morning)

5am 26 July: we finally made it out of China and onto the official Trans-Siberian Railway. 

Their isn’t actually a train called the Trans-Sib (a myth apparently), but there is certainly a railway line that stretches all the way to Russia, through Mongolia.  Another overnight sleeper, but thankfully we had a western toilet and a restaurant car where we could actually find a seat and not fight off the local who pay for cheap seats and hog the dining cart. 

8.30pm 26 July: Arrive at the border for 4 hours of immigration and wheeel (boagey) changing. 

There is a 100mm difference in the wheel spacing of the rail track so the under carriage needs to be changed on each carriage before we could enter Mongolia.  Complicated, long and noisy process, but interesting.  Basically they use hydrolics to jack up the carriage (with you in it) and then change the wheels over, then slowly link the whole train back together again.  Around 12.30am we are woken by a Mongolian official who says ‘sit, take off your glasses’ to Nic who is dazed from taking sinus tablets.  Waldu was struggling to keep his eyes open (sleeping tablet) so we must have looked a mess.  They took a while to look, relook and then walked off with our passports (like the Chinese did on leaving their side).  We got them back an hour later.

1.30pm 27 July: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  Trust me Mum, perfectly safe to balance on vent system and stick your head out the window.

She'll be coming round the mountain...

Wally at the Wall

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Yesterday we conquered the Great Wall of China (ok we walked about 800m of it) in 30+ degree heat, almost 100%

Where's Wally?

humidity, just over 1km of visibility, and a pretty agressive strip of hawker shops.  It is an amazing site that we were pleased to see.    We finished our day with a few cold drinks at local ex-pat bar, The Den (thanks for the tip Chris) where Waldu cheered on his Springbok team…sole supporter.  

After 3 days of living off a diet of rice and brocolli we finally found some western restaurants – another highlight to our great wall adventure!  Only 1 more day of bad manners, smog, wierd food (fancy some boiled bull frog?), no facebook access, and boredom to go and we get out of here and head to Mongolia on another overnight train.  We hear that they really like to eat meat there so are looking forward to the cuisine.

Trains, Terrocotta and Tucker

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We travelled by train through Guangzhou (Canton) on our way to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Army.  We thought it was 15 hours, but it was 26 hours! 

We rationed our pot noodles and golden valley bars (found these in an International shop in HK) as the tucker on board was, well, still not sure what it was but it was served from a big metal dish and looked like dish water with chunks of some kind of food in it – hopefully not anyone’s pet dog. 

Arrived safe in Xi’an and found the Cuban bar.  I know, we’re in Asia, but a few cigars and cheap cocktails and beers ($1 to $2 a beer!) never hurt any traveller.  And, Nic needs to wear her high heels for a night.  Tomorrow it’s off to Beijing (Peking) for the famous Peking Duck – how will Waldu go?  How will I go with another 12 hours on the train with smelly squat toilets (won’t share the rest of the detail)?

Lights of Hong Kong

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Seems so long ago now, but last week…

After filling up on banana leaf curry with Chris and Vincent in KL, we headed off to the night lights of Hong Kong.  Waldu went in search of delicacies and feasted on sesame rice balls – apparently they are a dessert. 

I avoided the shops (gulp) and made some new friends on the (over rated) cable car. 

1 day to go

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We can hardly believe it – 1 day to go and our dream adventure begins.  We are packed and ready to head off, but not before one last ‘pre trip post’ to thank everyone for their well wishes, love and support.  

Waldu is dosed up on cold and flu tablets and I am seeing what else I can squeeze into my backpack (shoes, handbags, dresses).

16 visas in hand, 2 international drivers licences, a small flask of Jagermister…

 

Here we go…

Light my way

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Waldu is getting into some last minute trip reading and I am madly printing off copies of everything – visas, flights, itineraries.  Thanks for our mini mags Troy & Lauren.  They are already getting a work out with some bed time reading. 

Are we ready?  Well, our fixer (guide and visa source) in Sudan has gone missing…thankfully we have not paid him yet, but otherwise I think we are fairly well sorted…or will be by (gulp) Monday.  After contacting well over 30 companies, our third party insurance for Europe came through this week – cause for celebration!  Not long now.  Malaysia Tuesday (see you soon Chris), Hong Kong Wednesday, China for the weekend.

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