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I left you chaps when I was due to home stay. I’m glad to report we survived, although the sheep we barbequed was not so lucky…

It turns out the first chap we met was just the cousin of the owner, and so was standing in as the most senior male of the time. The real chap came back and we barbequed as promised. Two of the six kids had broken arms, the four year old and the twelve. The four was kicked by a horse. Most of the herding was done by the eleven year old. To put that in perspective one of my nephews is 11 and he would have to look after his own horse and herd the whole mare, cow and goat host alone, from horseback. They have to grow up fast I guess.

We bought a volleyball and most if us played it, joined by the kids. The last couple of days have been volleyball orientated for at least a few hours, and now I know I see nets in every village. Strange volleyball should be the game of choice here, outside wrestling.

After the family stay we camped out, and yet again the stars were amazing. We camped in an open bowl bracketed by mountains and it felt like we were on top of the world. Having had no signal for a week its been strangely liberating. No news here. The queen could be dead, but we wouldn’t know. No one is getting emails, phone calls or texts. It’s the first time I’ve been truly cut off I can remember, even in Antarctica there was a satellite connection.

I think we get so used to the day to day connection we get. Facebook, the news, sport, that we forget how nice it can be to be down the pub (in this case in Mongolia) and not have people going for them every ten minutes. You see more, you actually end up relating more, I think, as everyone is adrift from their usual social construct. Its made us pretty close as a group already, ten days in. It also helps that we are united in at least one shared interest, travel. Anyone who didnt like travel wouldn’t be in bloody Mongolia would they? I hope we stay in touch with the friends we have made, but it’s often tough to do so down to geography and time. Facebook friends then anyway ๐Ÿ™‚ (which is almost the same….)

Incidentally I’m writing this particular blog because we had a storm and power cut. By the by we will be lighting the cow poo stove in our ger (no wood to burn). It’s very much like the old American west.

Funnily we have reached a hot spring where there is a forest, but they want to encourage trees so use other fuel.
The hot springs are eggy, as usual (like roturoura in New Zealand) but nice.

I have picked this up again a few days later. We have just had our penultimate night before we return to the capital and again we had a storm. This one was much worse. Our fire burnt out by midnight and the get got pretty cold. The stove itself is a metal box which has a large pipe leading up and out of the top of the ger. They also have a couple of flaps at the top to stop rain getting in. One of the flaps hit the stove pipe so hard, it must have been around 2am, that the stove pipe fell off in the ger with a mighty clang and almost brained Jo. Luckily she survived and we are on the way again.

We had also been to see Karakorum the day before. This is the old capital city of Mongolia, built by Chingis Kahns son. There is very little left, but we saw the bits of clay and stone and learnt more about the empire. Few people know the Mongols were one year away from conquering the whole of Europe, but only stopped due to the death of the Kahn. The work would be quite different if this hadn’t been halted!

During the two night stay at the hot springs we, obviously, sat around in hot water for a bit. We also went for a lovely.mountain walk. All across the mountains there live chipmunks, running around and looking cute. There is also a large Kite population, a largish predatory bird. We saw at least one chipmunk get carried away by the Kites. That’s the circle of life kids.

Jo and I were joined by most of the rest of the group to go horseback riding. I hear I looked pretty funny on top of a smallish horse, but there you go. It was good fun through and I was soon trotting round my horse like a good un. I’ve been horse riding maybe once before, but it was fun and not terribly tough to get it going in one direction, although my bum was a bit sore the next day and I grazed my knee dismounting due to the high saddle pommel.

We also had a massage and you’ll be relieved to hear there was no cuppage of man bits, like in India. A shame though as she was quite cute. Still Jo was having a massage in the same room so it might have been a little weird. ๐Ÿ™‚

Last night’s storm stay was also notable because all of our gers smelt truly bad, so much so we had a smell the ger contest to see who was worse. Isabella and Jan-eve came first, but ours was a close second.

No sign of any symptom from the cancer. I was a little worried after the flight as my spleen twinged a bit, but it feels ok now, so may have just jarred it. Its all good and our insurance is very comprehensive ๐Ÿ™‚

We are now off to see some native wild horses and have our last night out in the Gobi, so until next time my friends…

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