Howdy all, pull up a pew and stay a while. Our journey has continued and with it our adventures. I am sitting in a hotel in Beijing. It’s 35 degrees out at 5:30 in the afternoon and we are due to meet another group in half an hour. The only thing is we still have two members of our old group with us. I hope the new ones don’t mind us cheating on them for a day or so…
Anyway I left us in the Gobi. We saw some wild horses, but also a wolf! The horses are the last native wild ones in the world and are unable to breed with domestic ones, having a different number of chromosones. Fun fact!
Anyway we saw these and then headed back to Ulaanbaatar for our last dinner together as a group. everyone on the trip has been great fun, and we really bonded. So much so that all but two (who were a little aloof at points as they were a different age) went out to sing karaoke. We belted out a few classics, but all things must come to an end and so we said goodbye to many of our new friends. Ed and Abi live near London, so I suspect we will meet them and Jackie (Canary Wharf) for drinks. Alas the others are scattered around, is that seems less likely, but you never know where life will take you.
I also found out that of the 20 of us (4 drivers, the guide and the other 15) that 15 of us had been ill, with two others we didn’t confirm. Even three of the native drivers had been ill, so it shows there must have been something going around. Despite this it was a most excellent time and Mongolia really grew on me.
The food was of limited variety but the scenery was amazing. Never have I felt so adrift, but in a good way. I would imagine that if you needed a time out of your life that would be the place to do it.
The next morning there were five of us travelling to Bejing. Michael and Pete are off to do a three week tour, but alas all we have time for is one. I think Patrick would quite rightly kill me if I had presumed to take that much off!
The plane was delayed by an hour but we got in ok, and my first impression of Bejing could not be more different than my impression of Ulaan Baatar. The airport is amazing. It’s both enormous and also very interesting on a structural level. It’s also the first time I had to get a transit train just to get to baggage claim!
With a visa it was easy to get through customs, and there we were with our backpacks on a train to the city. Navigating was a little tough, just like when I showed up in Japan, but we worked it out from the guidebook and reached the hotel.
Jo and I squeaked in with half an hour before we met our new group and then we headed down. They seemed nice, if a bit more mixed than the last group in terms of ages. Lots of younger people, mostly girls and a mother and her two children.
We got our tips and then cried off the first dinner to go out with our Aussie chums one last time.We headed to the market in Beijing and it was rammed. People boiling everywhere like when you stamp on an ant hill. Just like in Japan I felt massive, with most people coming up to my shoulder, and only the occasional one larger. We were in the heart go Beijing at the market and we saw a handful of westerners. The food market was varied and it seemed like they were deep frying lots of different things on sticks. We saw scorpions, sea horses, squid and even a flying lizard and some starfish. (Delicious…)
Girding our loins we bought some deep fried scorpions and I popped one in my mouth, after some psyching up. It tasted crispy, but not pleasant. Michael wasn’t to be outdone and ate the next two. There’s a video floating around of it…
Then we had some proper food and headed back to the hotel for some rest, all that eating of poisioness beatle like creatures tired us out!