Tuesday, 7 October 2008
We boarded the train, which allready felt different from the reast we had taken, we were travelling second class to mongolia, I was allready missing the third class dorm carriges we had been traveling. Then as fast as my romantic dreams of travelling the trans siberian, mayn weeks ago had started, than they were ended.
"HI YA, IM SUE AND THIS IS PAUL, WERE FROM MINNESOTA"
All my illusions of being the only english people in this part of the world were broken, all my dissilussion of being soem sort of adveteurouse travelor dashed. Paul was a thirty odd, Moby lookalike and Sue was, alot younger and had legs with more hair on than mine. I took an instant hate to them, they were a.) not russian and b.) were american. Fran on the other hand releshed the chance to engage in converstaion with english speakers, making up for my lack of chat as i just scowled at her hairy legs and his less hairy head.
The arrival IN Ulabatar was a grat experience, Dramatic veiws and silent carrage compartment travelers. We found our guest house, it had "long drop" outside toilets much to frans dissapintment, and a Ger in the garden, which we werent staying in, much to my disappointment. We arrived too early to check in so went to aquaint our selfs with the city. Mongolia only has 2.7 million residents and half of them live in this one city, itts a manic place full of cars, no higway code and no road crossings,(that are safe) but it is a freindly place with a backdrop of mountains, one even had gengis chans face carved into it. We arrived back at the hotel for anafternoon kip and to my smug delight foun\d a group of french people all speaking english.
Over the next few days we roamed the city sorting out indian visas, watching musical productions and getting ready for our treck into the country side. One evening after a MOngolian BBQ we went home to find Guan our hostel owner, with some a finnish couple. Guan had clearly had a few drinks and was very chaty. I was the one who ended up locked in conversation with him.
"i christian, Despite being in buddist center, i translated many many passages from russain to mongolian, such as JOB and Pslam and JOB, You Understand?"
"uhu"" you see i know, english and our country, i know you past and ours, in know, it is good,"
"it is very important, form me, There is a s god, you country is important, You understand"
Your counrty engalnd , france , america, im christian you undersnd?"
"I love you"
We finaly tracked down out tour guide for our treck in to the Mongolian country side. "we will pick you up at 10". 10. arrived and so did our driver and guide, i shall not use ther names only there jobs as as we dicoverd, you dont use names untill you are well aquainted, maybe 2 to4 days. After some fafing we left late, and headed in to the mongolian country side in our landcruiser on tarmack, the later only lasted 30Km out of the cities, then it was a desicion of dusty tracks roughly in the right direction. We stayed in a Guir in the "City" of Kharkhorin Mongolias ex-capital and ate at a new pub called JIM MORIN, Translated it means Path for horses!
The next day we were up lokking at a monastry and fertility statues, then back on "the Road" In search of our paid trip. It turns out that none of our trip is planed, what happens is a guide goes with us then we drivde round till a nomadic family will put us up feed us and lend us some horses. We fiound the monst famouse horse herder in the orcon valley and stayed with hi, we stayed in the spare Gur and we were given the option of 3 days poney treking or 2days and a goat.
The Next morning we set out on our 3 day trek, it soon became clear that i had not riden a hores since i was 12, "it keeps going left!" "its stopped!". I got the hang of it soon enough and we were golloping throug the empty countryside, towards Mongolias favourite waterfall.
We admired the water fall the country side and our saddle saw selfs, we had been riding for 5 hours, and it was time to set up camp. "we camp some where shletered, Over there". The gude, the herdsman and fran Mount there horses and start off. I Hurry to catch up. I mount then dissmount the other side with a painfull thump, i quickly battle the shock to discover my Clavicle peircing the inside of my skin. With adrenalin still running through me i trek to push the broken bone back into place. This failes and i feel the pain, a confused heardsman stares at me. i show him the bone and grit my teeth.
The Heardsman heads of to get our driver, who i fear may have drunk a little to much of his beloved Eric, an alcoholic form of milk, the day befor he had consumed 2 ltrs of this and most of our vodka.
The Driver arrives sober, and advises we go to hospital, i agree. buit befor that we must stop at local village,(3 houses) so the doctor can look. She is not a doctor and this is the same gur we stayed in the night before, the nice old lady looks at it a pescribes be a half litre of russian vodka, i accept. I spend the next 10 hours drunk and in pain, and to the suprise of every one else quite jolly, despite the journey being similar to being sat on a bouncy castle at a 5 yr ould birthday party, with a javelin through your shoulder.
The doctors, were quick to sort me out and not dismis me as a drunk at 3am. we checked into a decent hotel orderd more vodka and past out. I woke up in pain, hungover and a fond memory of a conversation in the car on the way back.
"you know when you were sat there with the blanket arround you and i had to run off and go to the toilet, wellit wasnt a wee, I think the shock of you falling off must have scared it out of me. I fianly pooed"
Friday, 26 September 2008
We arrived in Ulan Uda late afternoon, the instructions were simple, "catch the number 4 minibus, go to the end of the route, walk back 300 meters turn left, we are at the end of the lane." We found the minibus and it was indeed mini.
"which way do we get the minibus?"
"we need taxi to end journey minibus 4" , "Neit"
"we need taxi to nearest hotel", "get in"
"we need room tonight" , "only suite left", "done"
The hostel was located about 3pm the next day. Once those troubles were behind us we stared to enjouy ourselfs in ulan uda, and set about a trip to lake baikal, (google the lakeits amazing). We got to the lake on another minibus, with many people thinking we were idiots camping at this time of year. ON the minibus out people tried to talke to us, then some one would say something like "Ybnodisninks AMERICAN mndjnfjnl". I bite my tongue.
We had a lovely evening camping and walking, then the complications came back. To get the minibus back we had to phone a number to make sure we get picked up. you can mime down the phone. we went to a shop to buy a phone card. With much waving and bad russian, some one phoned the minibus for us, "snkljdnsojhfsln AMERICAN" "Neit American"!!!
Friday, 19 September 2008
have failed to mention so far how i managed to leave our soap, Frans coverted soap dish and my toothbrush on the Keiv to moscow train, this coupled with the lost tickets means i am now not in charge of anything physical and important.
Since Moscow we have not been the budget travellers that we were ment to be. This is not down to the need for en-suit hotel rooms, but simply that in Siberia there are few hostels, infact untill our next stop no budget accom. We attempted to find the budget hotel, as recomended by the lonely planet folk, in Nigny Novgorod, we sucseeded only to discover its recent closure. It looked lovely. So as time was getting on we checked in to the Hotel Centralia, with its own casino, we resisted. After i blogged to you from Novgrod, we went to the Theater. A classic Opera or Balett that crosses international language boarders? No A Russian comedy about Jews! we left after the first half, fortunatly I never knew what was going on in the first half to worry about the outcome in the second.
We left Novgrod at 5.34am, the time wasnt that appealing, neither was the the thought of walking through a russian metropolois. We managed that, arriving 45 min early for the train, just in case on the 10 min walk we got lost, or accosted, once there, 'Its not on the board, its not on the board. Our Train Its not on the Board'. Bearing in mind we were early and the board only had enough space for 5 departures, still we panicked. 'Ask some one ask some one', 'I can't speack russian', 'Neither can I'. After 20 minuets of this, our our train time was displayed, and anounced over the tanoy in english. Funny how we had to wait for the 5.05, 5.08, 5.18 to leave befor there was enough space on the board for our train.
We boarded the train for our longest stint on a train of 48hours. we get to our beds look up opposit a small child. 'shit 48 hours of crying'. Every one slept till day breack. Once every one was awake and feed it seem that socalising, and in some cases drinking could comence. We sat on our seat grining nevously like the Hamiltons on a chat show, thinking were not sure why we are here, and we are definatly not sure what is going on. We made freind with the gran, mother and baby in our booth eventualy and enjoyed our selfs for most of the trip. I found my self at one point with a half naked, smell russian bellowing 'Shist, Shist!' at me. This is fotunatly not a swaer word but the russian for 6, i had some how entered a game of backgammon with this man, I just wasnt really grasping how he played, let alone the rest of the conversation. It would also appear that most russian can count to 6 in english, so all joined in the shouting.
We made it to Noversabrisk at 3am, there are no hostels, and i type from the loby of a very decrotive soviet hotel, we couldent get tickets for the Opera tonight and there were no plays, so we are going to take a Russian Sauna.
At breackfast I was confronted by an american Lady,
' Are you guys from th US '
' No. UK. '
' I knew you werent Russian, I saw you sniffing your food.......... So are you hear to adopt too?'
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Spanky was actually with me that last time i was in Moscow and we did much the same then as we have done this time. It is a Hectick citiy and our last big one till Beijing, we went to see Lenin, the imense Victory park, which took us 2 hours to walk to, this was mainly due to fear of using the Metro, on the way back from Victory park we quickly overcame this fear.
This will be another short blog entry as i have run out of time and the strain of having to go to one counter to buy a ticket then go to another person to turn my teminal on is very tough. If only the could mind read like i hope they could, but then there is the question could they read my mind in English or englichski as i have learnt to say. On that note our russian is coming on leaps and bounds, We can now identify, resturants, cafes, hotels and casheires!
Saturday, 13 September 2008
When in Colougne One should smell, at least fresh, this didnt happen, however Colougne was fresh and possibly the only day of summer i experinenced this year, a lovely day in a lovely town.
When in warsaw err, spend money random polish man gives you on overnight train! This did happen and was the only good thinng that happend. Thankyou Peter.
When in Keiv... yes yes yes we did. This was my second time in Keiv and i did the same thing then! This is the only thing i have ever done in Kiev.
When in Moscow.....
..... Well you will have to wait as i have some ones eyes digging into the back of my head, as i type this, on the only computer in the hostel.
Monday, 8 September 2008
We are packed and ready to go, Fran’s tears for her good byes have dried and I have buterflys in my tummy, I would image that if I was 9 then tomorrow would be Christmas, I am that excited! I am also sure that I will not sleep a wink tonight in anticipation of the alarm going off and the nagging in the back of my mind “where are the tickets”.
As this is a Travel blog I shall quickly mention some travelling. First class on trains in England is amazing, everyone is quiet, the seats are big and comfy and you all get a table to eat you packed lunch on.
We hit our fist obstacle today, we turned up to the Indian embassy at about 10.30 to register for our visas, the department according to the embassy website closes for the morning at 11.
“how many people would be registering for an Indian visa? On a Monday”
“you have come to the wrong office sir”
We arrived at the new streamline visa place and took a ticket numbered 2543, the display read 0567. We were also given a form to fill in to pass the time. “Two identical passport photos required”, “ah look a photo booth”. While Fran was posing I read on, “black Ink MUST be used”. I looked around and everyone seemed to be using their black pens, “I’ll just nip to the stationers across the road “ It was then I overheard this conversation.
“excuse me, how long will I take”
“Im not sure, there are a lot of people here”
“No, not now. How long to get our Visa”
“About 3 working days”
To resolve the problem I we went to Argos and brought a £14.99, chrome, water resistant Casio watch and decided that we could easily get Indian Visas in Kathmandu . During the Argos watch buying I got slow order rage, inwardly, and my buy yourself out of misery plan didn’t work. I then developed raincoat envy, it wasn’t raining but we took them with us just incase, Frans packs down to a tennis ball, while mine a meagre Yorkshire Terrier size. This was quickly resolved and I felt three times better, I now have a equally small raincoat, it was cheaper than Frans and I now have two raincoats.
Christmas is tomorrow, I wonder what Eurostar Santa will bring.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
In the three months since we conceived this trip the planning has been vague.
“lets go to Russia China and India, all overland. No planes!” “Ok. Can we then go to Australia” “Ok. We may have to fly that bit.....Ill see if there is a boat”
After this conversation we looked at a map assumed it would be easy and told some people what we had planed to do. It got to a point where we had done little towards the journey, so we made a commitment and bought some cheap Eurostar tickets to Brussels. (we could always do a day trip). It wasn’t until Fran handed in her notice that we started to sort stuff out. Since then we have found distraction after distraction not to do stuff towards our travel, despite being hugely committed to it.
That is why I’m doing what I’m doing now , to being hugely distracted... “I know Ill start my blog, it really does need to be started”. I have been fairly productive today. I have organised all the new stuff I have bought for my journey, which I have photographed for you, with my new camera, all of which will go into my new bag, all of which was bought online while I was meant to looking up things like what not to eat in the middle of the Gobi desert or do Russians still like English men.