Wake up cold. No overnight visitor loading the fire. We layer up and head to main ger for boiled eggs, pancakes and rice pudding. We introduce putting jam into rice pudding in Mongolia.
Al stays near the fairy lights in the long drop while myself and Badz head up the valley to a Buddhist temple. It has snowed overnight and flakes are still falling making the pine trees look wonderful.
The walkway to the temple has boards alongside with Buddhist proverbs.
We cross a wobbly bridge and climb the temple steps where an old man is shovelling snow. Hats and shoes off and we head into an intimate quiet place. There are paintings of famous meditators around the walls and cloth covered mantras either side of the main altar. Outside are images of earth, heaven and hell with some graphic images.
We trudge back to the ger camp for one last traditional meal of beef, rice, chips and coleslaw (This is at 11.15, 1h 45min since breakfast) The addition of two squirts of ketchup onto the rice balls pleases me.
We head off for the final leg of the trip. Out of the valley and the snow disappears. Soon we arrive at an enormous stainless steel Chenggis Khan statue. We enter in the plinth and see the worlds largest boot.
Back in the van for the final, final leg (I can smell shower gel) and we drive back into UB on the road we used yesterday. We stop at the Zaisen World War Two memorial to the south of the city and I have to be honest that as we pulled up, I wasn’t bothered about it. There is a Russian tank that went to Berlin at the base of the climb, and we ascend slowly up to the memorial. The view over UB is only hampered by the grey skies. The Soviet / Mongolian built monument is beautiful and well worth delaying a shower for an hour. There are Soviet mosaics depicting how Russia has assisted Mongolia throughout their history including defeating the Nazis and going into space. I love the design.
Back at the bottom we enter a really posh shopping centre for the loo. I see my face for the first time in 4 days and its covered in ginger and white hair. We smell too, so waiting for Al, I linger outside Gucci shouting ‘choo choo’
Back in the van for the final final final leg (shower gel in coat pocket) and we pick our way through the crazy UB traffic back to the hostel. We say our goodbyes to Badz and Moogii who have been excellent guides and kept us entertained in the van by punching each other unexpectedly. We have loved this trip a lot and its thanks to them really.
Al showers, then I shave and shower and feel clean. Then like any self respecting traveller who has been living in a ger on the Mongolian steppe for four days we head straight to the Grand Khan Irish Pub where the delicious local dark ale is supped and we reminisce and ponder and discuss how much we love stretching our comfort zones.