A Travellerspoint blog

Mongolia

Sunday the 1st March to Thursday the 5th in Mongolia

-5 °C
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We have uploaded some photos..hurrah!

After 4days on the train we knew that we smelt bad but when we got to the hostel in Ulan Bator we were dismayed to find that the hot water was broken!! After an hour or so praying for it to be fixed we gave up and went for a frrrreeezzzing cold shower (Ice Cream head alert!) Did the trick though and we all felt much better after it and some food in the nearest eatery we could find..none other then an Irish pub. They really are everywhere! The rest of the day was spent finding our bearings around the city and visiting a local Buddhist Monastery.We quickly discovered that crossing the road in Mongolia is no mean feat, the drivers are fekin crazy! They beep at everyone and everything and the green man doesn't have any meaning whatsoever. Its basically a game of chicken to see who gives in first. Pretty scary but we got the hang of it ie follow the locals.
On Monday morning we left the hostel to go to a Ger camp about 60km outside of the city in Gorkhi Terelj National Park. A ger camp is basically where Mongolian nomads live and tend to their livestock. We stayed in a ger which is a very solid felt tent with a furnace inside for warmth.
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There were 6 of us in the Ger 3 Irish, 1 English (Ben), 1 Canadian (Jamie) and 1 Malaysian (Ray) so a good mix :-) While we were there we went for a few wanders in the hills in the surrounding area and the scenery is stunning! We also went pony riding on the most relaxed and placid pony's ever. It was a struggle to get them to trot let alone anything faster. Kate and Ben both conquered their fear of pony's/horses so they were very proud of themselves and so they should be. On the next hill we went to visit the pet camel..surreal!
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We had brilliant craic in the ger that night and the stars outside were something to behold. The family who live on the camp fed us traditional Mongolian food and tea which was all very yummy(ish) and we arrived back to Ulan Bator very happy Ger campers!
One of the nights we went to a pub to see a Mongolian rock band called Altan Urag (check them out on Youtube!).They only did a 15minute set which is common practice apparently but they were fantastic! Throat singing is something everyone should hear. After the pub we headed to a nightclub to break it down Mongolian styleeee. We also visited the International Intellectual Museum http://www.iqmuseum.mn which is a museum full to the brim of puzzles from super easy 3 pieces up to thousands of pieces which require 50 thousand moves to solve it. Really amazing chess sets and puzzles from all over the world aswell.

We found a great Veggie restaurant much to the dismay of the lads from the hostel cos when we dragged them there the most potent drink they could get was 0% alcohol..character building I say..

Mongolia Highlights:
1) Aoife thinking camels roll in the hay for extra insulation
2) Crossing the road in Ulan Bator
3) Anna washing all her clothes in the one go and ending up with pick and mix clothes on and looking like a German tourist..Sehr gut!

Stay tuned for Annas food rant..

Posted by annacronin 03:12 Archived in Mongolia Comments (1)

Trans-Siberian train aka Twilight Train

From Moscow to Mongolia

sunny -10 °C
View Where the hell are we..?? on annacronin's travel map.

We very sensibly decided to leave the hostel three hours before our tain was due to depart. Just as well really as in Russia the three main train stations are situated right beside eachother with no indicatin of which one our train left from. So after some serious detective work we found the right station but then were unable to find our train as not only were there no signs in English but all the postings were in Cyrillic. At 9.20pm, in what can only be described as a gamble we jumped on train number 004 destined for Bejing in the hopes that it was going to stop in Mongolia. Yey, we guessed right and began our 5 nights and 4 days journey in what can only be described as a very 'cosy' cabin.
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Our first night went fairly smoothy aside from the odd ramdom and slightly worrying banging noise that would come up from the tracks. But to be honest we were just delighted to be on the right train.

The next day we discovered that not only were we the only people in our carraige (winter unsurprisingly is not the most popular time for this journey) but also that our carraige attendents for some unknown reason really did not like us. They displayed this by walking by our cabin at intervals, looking in at us and letting out a grunt. But we did get our own back after he nearly set the whole carraige on fire by leaving his fat pan for cooking on the coal burner, he was not quite so smug after that. Each carraige has a little coal fueled boiler that supplied us with hot water and also heated our cabins (which were toasy warm). But it meant that everything was covered in a fine layer of soot and the air quality was terrible, a bit like living on the London tube for 4 days!
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We found two other travelers on the train a Welsh man William, who it just so happens worked in Delphi adventure centre in Mayo and Ben, English who was sharing his cabin with a Russian family. Their carraige and all other passengers were at the very other end of the train, so naturally this was where we spent the majority of our time.

On the second night we got to sample some true Russian hospitality when there was the 5 travellers (us included) and our Russian family all squashed into a 4 berth 25 degree cabin drining vodka and eating their supply of smoked fish..... yep you can imagine the smell. Russians do not let you say no and they certainly do not do things by halves. But Ivan was really sweet and after much persuasion allowed us a chasser of orange juice after each shot of the good stuff.
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The food carraige in the train still looked like it did in the 1950's and smelled a bit like wet dog. It also had no electriciy so after a not so pleasent meal of stale bread and cheese we went back to a diet of noodles, cup-a-soup, stale bread and Nuti-grain bars for the whole 4 days... yum yum. Once off the train we discoved that at all the stations people sell fresh food and vegetables but as our carraige was at the very end of the train we never saw them, Oh well!P2250131.jpg

The days passed surprisingly quickly although after day three with limited fresh air, no shower or exercise cabin fever was setting in. We were all delighted when we saw the sun rise over the mountains surrounding Ulan Baatar on Sunday and jumped off the train into a brisk -15 degree (snot freezing) frosty morning.
Mongolia here we come......

Lots of love

Anna, Kate and Aoife

Posted by annacronin 02:53 Archived in Russia Tagged train_travel Comments (1)

the one that got left behind...

but i'll catch up very soon......

snow 50 °C

Dublin -10 degrees, carlow -20, snow up to our armpits,
in dublin the trans-dublin express has been delayed due to leaves on the line and the points failure at bayside but we struggle on to travel across the wilderness from Sutton to Bray...met a local and shared some of his "local brew" from a brown bag, tasted remarkably like flat cider. train eventually made it across in 24 hours, a new record for this railway network....

stop off point in carlow, total wilderness and isolation, met some locals but couldn't decipher what they were trying to communicate so smiled and nodded....think i encountered a hill tribe from mount leinster during a festival on friday night...everyone very drunk and dressed very strangely....lots of ginger haired folks with coloured ponies.

hmmm...don;t think i'm getting near china yet....

Posted by annacronin 14:50 Archived in Ireland Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (0)

Whistle stop tour of moscow....

snow -7 °C
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Well we had a deadly evening in the hostel in Moscow, learning the art of chinese poker from a nice guy called Chris Lee, we would soon discover this would be crucial on our trans-siberain trip. The next morning we set off on foot to see what moscow had to offer, we had eight hours and we were gonna do our best. We walked around the Kremlin, we went to St.Basils cathedral, Saw the grave of the unknown soldier and saw the changing of the gaurds, we went to red square and we saw Peter the greats monument.

We found the cold hard to take if we are honest, especially going from outdoors to indoors made us a bit fuzzy in the head. (well except Aoife cos she must be made of tougher stuff). By the end of the day we were a bit like three frozen penguins in need of something warm in our bellies.

Top things we learned about Russia:

Everything is in Russian, there is absolutly no translations anywhere not even in the train stations, or when we were in the metro. (Causing us serious confusion).

We couldnt make out translations because everything is in cyrillic.

Russians dont speak english but they are serioulsy helpful.

Smiling helps alot....:o)

Lots of Love

Aoife, Anna and Kate xx

Posted by annacronin 04:02 Archived in Russia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Dublin to Moscow

snow -10 °C
View Moscow & Where the hell are we..?? on annacronin's travel map.

So we just about caught our flight this morning each laden down with about 15Kgs of stuff! A lovely meal followed and we all agreed that BMI plane food is the way to go!
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Anna true to form nearly left her camera on the plane but the nice person behind her picked it up. We are blaming her lapse on nearly having her head crushed by the seat in front of her!

When we got to Moscow we 'navigated' our way to the Metro which is amazing with chandileers, marble floors and stucco work.
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The poor lady behind the desk didnt know what we were trying to say and she was further bamboozeled when we started flashing our cash. We gave her 1600 rubles and then offered more when the tickets actually only cost 80! ooppsy!

We have been dilligently practising our Russian-so far we know 'Spasiba' which means thank you. However it took us a while to master this phrase and after the nice man in the metro gave us directions all we could muster was 'spa...spa'

We are now safe and sound in the hostel after a lovely dinner. Its about -10 outside so longjohns will be worn tomoroow. We are planning a whistlestop tour of Moscow, pick up some supplies and head for the train station.

We will post again when we get to Mongolia Sat/Sun.

Take care

Aoife, Anna and Kate

Posted by annacronin 11:06 Archived in Russia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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