We’ve just come back from a 10 day trip out to western and central Mongolia. Babak, Bec, Josie, Sarah and myself hooked up with the worlds best driver and the worlds worst guide/translator for the obligatory big trip out to the countryside. The main destination was to Lake Khovsgol, which is the largest lake in Mongolia. It contains about 1 percent of the world’s fresh water, and is so pure you can drink directly from it. Of course getting there isn’t the easiest thing in the world. I had thought that Cambodian roads were horrible, but they are luxury compared to the dirt tracks that pass for major highways in this country.
We decided to try to reduce some of the driving by taking a train from Ulaan Baatar to a copper mining town called Erdenet. The train was typical Russian style, with four berths per compartment. Poor Bec had to share a bed with three strangers in the compartment next to us, but she did get to hang out with us until we decided to go to sleep.
Once we got to Erdenet, our driver and guide met us and the trip started properly. We bounced around for 8 hours or so before finally finding a nice camping spot near the Selenge river. I volunteered to do the job of fire lighter which ended up being a lot of fun. We cooked dinner, and sat around drinking vodka and chatting. Eventually some local kids came up to us and the girls went off to talk to them for a while.
The next day we finally reached the lake. Apparently it had just finally thawed out from the winter the previous week, and it was still COLD! Josie and I went horse riding for a few hours, checking out some of the scenery. We got caught in a massive thunderstorm and ended up sheltering with a local herder family. They fed us hot tea, and plenty of cheese and bread to keep us warm. Later that day the whole group went out on a boat ride to see some more of the lake. Unfortunately the lake is HUGE and we only saw a small portion of it.