Yesterday morning, Lisa (my hotel roommate) and I went to meet the other trekkers at breakfast. There was Viktor, Karyn, Lisa, Jo Ann, Laura, Amy (owner and guide of Tusker), and me. Amy is the wife of Eddie Frank-the founder of Tusker. Laura is Amy’s mother. Jo Ann is a 76 year old free spirit and has done this trip before. Viktor is German but lives in Vancouver. I’ve already talked a bit about Karyn, but I’m liking her more and more. Lisa is friends with Amy.
After breakfast,Lisa, Karyn and I took off for the streets of UB. Wow! The traffic is overwhelming. Pedestrians do not have the right away, even when the corsswalks are green. I simply said a prayer and ran. We walked past the government house and square before finding the Museum of Zanabazar-Amy, Jo Ann, and Viktor all recommend we stop here. There was all these artifacts and reproductions of tools, crafts, and art from ages ago. I found it fascinating. One hall had traditional Mongolian celebration costumes from the 19th and 20th centuries. The masks are crafted from papermache but offer amazing detail. Certainly not the same papermache you would find in a craft class at school. Afterwards, we hit up the State Department Store to look at cashmere and Mongolian souvenirs. The cashmere was beautiful and I fell in love with a fantastic scarf. I did not purchase it because I want to see what the Kazakhs have to offer us first when we’re out in the Altai Mountains. I did exchange $200US for Mongolian Tugriks. I feel like I got a lot but I’m sure it evens out somewhere. While also at the state store, I bought two postcards-I’ll send them from home-maybe unless I have time on our return. Apparently Mongolia is know for their postage stamps. I also picked up a magnet for Ms. Phillips (my neighbor of thirty something years and is more like family).
Afterwards we went to a Russian restaurant for lunch based on a recommendation from Amy. I ate vegetable soup with rice (it also had some sort of meat but I didn’t ask about it…I was told it was probably mutton). On the table, tehre is a call button in case you need anything. The waitresses don’t bother you unless you push the button. Great concept, one I wouldn’t mind seeing adopted in America.
We decided to head back then. Lisa and I were feeling a bit tired and wanted to rest before dinner. At 5:15pm, we met downstairs (now joined by Tom-from Jacksonville-and Eric-28 year old currently living in Dubai) so we could go to a show. It was a magnificent! Dancers danced traditional dances, signers sang, an orchestra perfomred and a contortionist bent herself into a pretzel. The double throat singing was presented in a quartet and I was blown away. The whole show was spectacular and I’m glad we went so I could experience it.
We headed back to the hotel for a group dinner at The Bellagio. I ate fried rice with vegetables (no meat unlike the soup at lunch) and tried a slice of pizza curtesy of Amy and Laura. Lisa, Jo Ann, and Karyn had a Hot Pot which looked interesting. I’ll have to try a Hot Pot-maybe when we get back to UB after our horse trek. Finally, we went back to our rooms to sort and pack. Lisa and I had a chance to talk and I really like her. She’s a friendly soul.
Our wake up call came early this morning. 3am. Luckily, I was basically ready to go so I didn’t have to waste too much time getting ready.
At 4:15, we all piled-with all our duffels-into a van and off to the airport we headed. We were forewarned our luggage could only weigh about 20kg. If it was heavier, we would have to pay. So, I stuffed my pockets and wore my riding helmet. I was only 7kgs over! I was not the heaviest (as I thought I may be). It cost me 28,000T which I don’t think was that bad.
Now, there’s a thing at dinner that Amy was telling us about-it’s called the Chingiss effect. Well, we were hit with that this morning, as we sat and waited on the tiny plane-we waiting on teh runway for 30 minutes. Now, it isn’t packed here so it wasn’t because of runway traffic. They made us eventurally get off. Originally, it was cancelled because of bad weather. Then they said delayed by two hours.
So that is where we are. Chingiss is having us wait in the airport.
Hopefully we will get out soon!!