Zoe and Ed's Travels
Greetings from Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia's westernmost province. We have been here for just over a week now, together with our entourage! When we booked our tour in Mongolia we thought that we'd be part of a group of around 10 people, but it turns out that we're the only ones to book this tour. As a result we have a translator (or two translators - more about that later), a cook, and two drivers with an old Russian jeep apiece. We are thus being waited on hand and foot. We have managed to evade the translator for an hour. This is the first time in a week that we have managed to get away! She talks all the time as well, and has a habit of liking the USA, which can also be a little annoying. She's supposed to be our guide and translator, but she doesn't seem to know a great deal about anything we're going to see. In addition, it turns out that they don't speak Mongolian very much in Bayan-Ulgii; they speak Kazakh. And our translator doesn't. Hence the second translator to whom I aluded earlier. She, unfortunately, doesn't speak English (only Kazakh and Mongolian), so it's a little bit like Chinese (Mongolian?) whispers when talking to the locals. In spite of all of this, we are having a wonderful time here. The eagle hunting festival was absolutely incredible. Just wait for the photos (we'll upload these when we get to Beijing, as the Internet's really slow in Mongolia). Yesterday and today we visited a Kazakh family in their ger, and got to "hold" their eagle. (At times I think the eagle was holding us!) We are now hardened tea drinkers, and have been enjoying Kazakh delicacies such as horse meat sausage, and all manner of things made out of milk. Tomorrow we fly back to Ulaan Baatar; that is if the airline can decide what time the flight is. I think that it got changed something like four times for the flight out here, right up to the last minute. We have five days in Ulaan Baatar (or UB as we are now sloppily calling it) before we get back on the train to head to China.