We met at School on the first day at 5am. 5am is very early for Mongolians, so I was a little surprised that people were indeed there. It did take us 45 mins to pack the van, and then there was some cake! No one felt like eating cake though, so we prayed and piled into the van, there were 7 students, myself, and the driver. Our first stop was to pick up a couple more of the students and some big chunks of meat.
We stopped for petrol on the way out of UB, and discovered we had a flat tire. Let the reader take note! In the cold we unpacked the van and changed the tire. It was decided that some extra tools were needed, so someone had to go back into the city and come back.
|First flat tire|
We probably got about 30 minutes out of the city before another flat tire (2). Again it was changed, but then we drove back to UB, and myself and 3 of the girls were dropped off at a small cafeteria, where the mother of one of the girls worked, and waited there while the rest went off for more serious tire repair. We drank some coffee, played some cards, and got to know each other better. Then maybe another 45 minutes later the van returned, and we were off again. Departure time was now 10:45.
They decided I should sit in the front seat, next to Enkhtsetseg and the driver. I think they were being considerate and concerned about how I would take the drive. There was a lot of Mongolian singing as we set out again. The road out of UB is pretty good, paved for the most part, and we made solid progress through the day. The countryside is very beautiful, with steppes, mountains, rivers, and of course herds.
|Driving across the steppe|
We stopped about half-way to Tsetserleg for some lunch, and then drove on, past the ancient capital of Kharkhorum.
About 5pm we reached the capital of Arkhangai province, Tsetserleg, and there was some more 'repairing' of the car. By this time our van wouldn't start without pushing, so everytime we stopped for a significant stop, push-starts were necessary. It was decided to drive on, and we went for another 150km. The countryside gets more wild past Tsetserleg and the road decidedly less 'road-like'. Eventually we stopped for the night in a small town and found a 70 year old man who gave us a bed to sleep on and some food to eat. I was not feeling great from the food and journey and went quickly to sleep.
|A place to sleep|