Terelj and UB

29/5
Day started early with a paraglide session with Bold in the mountains close to Ulaanbaatar. Then Siobhán and me arranged our stuff and wanted to take the bus to a Terelj, but we missed it by one hour. I decided to call to Bold to ask if it was ok for us to join him and two UK girls to Terelj. In the mean time we said bye to Emily. They were leaving for Terelj only at 6pm, so finally I had some time to go sightseeing in the city. The circus was the best surprise! In the evening we drove to Terelj and had a beer with Bold in front of the ger.

30/5
I woke up at seven for paragliding in Terelj, but Bold didn’t show up and I thought he probably overslept… So went back to bed. Apparently he was waiting up the hill. So, sadly, I missed the extra gliding session. Horse ride and rafting were next. Soon after that, I had to say bye to Siobhán. Already. The next was more reading in my Chenggis Khaan book, taking a nap, hiking and finding a sleeping spot under the Eternal Blue Sky. A little later a million kazillion stars above me.

De ijlere lucht draagt het geluid hier merkelijk verder. Twee steenworpen verder kwam een groep jongeren aangewandeld en moest ik Mongools verstaan had ik het hele gesprek kunnen volgen. Wat ik wel verstond was de “neg huiri gurav” voor ze probeerden allemaal tegelijk op te sprongen voor de foto. (Een, twee, drie!) 😉

31/5
In he morning I met my French fellow climbers Louis and Ann-Sophie, their French interpreter and our climbing guide Xhoygbaatar at Buuveit camp. The guide is part of the police rescue unit and was going to climb the first ascend without a real belayer. (Maar dat was buiten mij getekend en ik zeker de hem dan) He was using carabiners instead of quick draws and he still belayed with an 8. I realized it was gonna be mongolian style climbing. I didn’t feel like leading at all. But when I finished the first route, I saw that he made a proper anchor and the bolts looked new. So I was relieved. And I saw he used the 8 like one would use a tuber, and that wasn’t such a bad idea I thought. And then, when Louis was climbing the second route, his foot slipped from a hold when he was only a meter or so up, and he hurt his ankle badly in the landing. Ice, elevation, rest,… And after a while off to hospital. I ended up alone with Xhoygbaatar. After climbing another 2 routes I had enough for today (And it wasn’t like there were more routes anyway) and read some more in the Chenggis Khan book. In the evening we drank two glasses of vodka and then I went to sleep. Xoygu drank some more with the hosting family and came back somewhat drunk and talkative (in Mongolian). But nothing I couldn’t handle.

1/6
Children’s day today. Climbing for me. My favorite routes of Mongolia in the morning! Nice long cracks, little sharp grips, and not too much overhanging. After those two we waited a while for the car key which the French interpreter mistakenly took home to Ulaanbaatar. And then we went back to buuveit, where we had met first, there were 4 more routes to climb. All in all not much choice. And there was also a camp for young people. The young people I had heard when I was sleeping under the eternal blue sky one night ago. Apparently they were police rescue unit students. The unit were Xoygu was part of. But there was also a lieutenant and a major, so maybe it’s a combination of police and army…?
It turned out that I could spend the night in their camp… Special! Cool to be able to experience this army style life for an afternoon/night! The food was meat (sheep) and potato, and they ate it with their hands. And the tents for the youngsters didn’t have beds, but mine, that of the teachers, had :). The old steel kind.
In the evening he boys played basket 3-3, and the girls went to a fixed ger. I was curious and went to see what happened there. It appeared it was not only children’s day, but also women’s day, and they were having karaoke! I walked in the ger and they offered me juice and a chocolate praline. I guess it was a good thing to enter there 😉 But after two mongolian songs I didn’t know, I figured I’d quickly get bored. And luckily, the guys (do I say officers?) from my tent just summoned me. They thought I was bored so they decided to chat with me, with one of the students who could speak English (he had been in the Netherlands for a year) translating. And all this with some vodka of course. Arkhi vodka. My favorite. And I shared what was left of my Chengis vodka. It was good to sleep inside because it was quite a cold night, even with trousers and t shirt in my sleeping bag.

2/6
Two of the men dropped me at Turtle Rock, where I wanted to make a walk to aryapala meditation centre. But it wasn’t much, so I decided to climb over the fence and hike to the top of the mountain nearby. An amazing view over the valley, flowers, forest and bird sounds around me was my reward. The plan was to read in my Chengis book at the top, but I wanted to hitch a ride back to UB so i decided to go back on time. The hitching was easy, first car! In the evening I met with Bold. We had dinner together, a lot of sushi!, and after that we went to the jazz club where an American band was performing. Mongolian beer has no secrets for me anymore…
And then, after we had several coincidental eye contacts, a Mongolian guy who came to the table to say hi. That’s how I met Bilegt.
Unfortunately because of circumstances we had to leave soon after… Before I knew I was in my hostel.

3/6
Lazy day. Rain in the morning. Only left the hostel at 2pm. Walked around UB, visited Gandantegchinlen monastery, and walked around even more. Treated myself to some real italian food and changed hostel. I shared the room with a French guy, Pascal, and a Kyrgyz guy. We talked for a long time at night and then a Spanish guy, Pablo, popped in. The Kyrgyz guy is a wrestling referee and apparently the Junior Asian Wrestling Championship is tomorrow so I’m wondering if I should stay one more day…

4/6
Ok, done, I bought a trainticket for Ulaan Ude for tomorrow so I’m going to see the wrestling and also then I can be on the same train as Pascal, who is going to Irkutsk and who I found interesting to talk to.
Then I went to the Black/Narantuul market with Pablo from spain, and we ate pizza together.
In the evening I had a beer with Bilegt. Nice evening.

5/6
To the paraglide hill, to the wrestling, buy some things i needed and… Tired now…
Packed my stuff back in the hostel, agreed with Pascal to meet in front of the train station at 8.20pm, and to meet Bilegt at 8pm, and went to Narantuul market again. There was this t-shirt I absolutely needed to have (girls girls girls)… And which almost (you might already guess) made me loose my train. Where the t shirt was literally in EVERY shop yesterday, I spent over 5 minutes looking for it today… Anyway, eventually I found it, bought it (bargained really quickly) and raced to the street.
And there were the Mongolians rescuing me again 🙂 I signaled on the street, very soon a car stopped and it brought me straight to the train station. What a stressy hitch! I’m pretty sure I cursed myself for always playing this same trick. Arriving there I crossed the street running, it must have been about 20.20, but I didn’t see Pascal. There wasn’t much time to look around, I guessed he would be on the train already.
Meanwhile I was desperately looking around for the information centre, where I was supposed to meet Bilegt. I can tell it doesn’t help that everything is written in Cyrillic when you have to hurry. As the train was (already) waiting there I decided to go there. I was probably easy to spot.
I felt a relieve when I heard “Ellen!”. Of course we barely had time to exchange books, let alone to say a descent goodbye. I deeply regret that.
Being on the train, one question remains, where is Pascal? He’s not in my carriage, because I already said hi to all the other people. I just hope he didn’t miss the train because of me. (I showed him the difference in departure time between the ticket –20.25 and the traintable –21.15)…

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