This is the blog of Martin and Caroline as they go out and see some of the world

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Midnight Madness - Mongolia

Thank goodness to be off the train.  We headed straight to our hostel which was only 10 minutes walk away.  We woke the poor lady up to let us in at 06.30 and she did not mind at all and let us into a room which seemed huge compared to the train cabin we had just come from.  An ensuite bathroom completed our heaven and the shower was lovely.
We went out and had a walk around Ulaanbaatar; we were surprised but pleased that almost everything is in English which made life a little easier.
Mongolia has a population of 2 million and over 1 million live in UB and it shows.  They are building anywhere and everywhere.  The pavements and roads are like buildings sites and I don’t think they have heard of the works Health and Safety.  The ‘no win, no fee solicitors’ would have a field day out here.
In the hostel there was a sign for a trip to go to a soviet built observatory to see the stars in a clear Mongolian sky.  We thought that sounded quite nice and so we said we would give it a go.
The hostel arranged the transport to the observatory and we were told to be in reception at 10pm.  The man on reception took us out to a very nice looking Prius but little did we know the journey would be more eventful than the observatory.
We headed off and driving on the Mongolian roads is like something out of a movie, they overtake on the inside, jump lights, ignore pedestrian crossings and stop for nothing.  We came off the main road bumped along a dirt track to a gate and it seemed we were in the wrong place so after many phone calls we headed off again, we went all the way back through town at break neck speed and then onto a dirt track.  This turned into what can only be described as an off road track.  The car was bouncing around everywhere but the driver didn’t seem bothered.  Then we reached a tiny tunnel that was very small.  The car was lined up and looking at it there was no way we were going through there but after phone calls to the manager she insisted that everything was fine.  We asked to speak to her and told her that there was no way it would fit but she was having none of it and said don’t worry the car had been through before – she must have really wanted her money for the trip.
With lots of inching his way through we came out the other side – amazingly.  We headed on up the hill and arrived at another security guard that let us through after another call to the manager and we were led up to the observatory by the man who worked there who we don’t think knew we were even coming. 
It was a proper old fashioned observatory and as the roof opened it creaked and groaned and he pushed the big old fashioned telescope into place and we saw a new star, an old star, a cluster of stars, canyons on the moon and Jupiter.  It was great and we would have liked to have seen more planets but it was not to be.  We said goodbye to the very nice man who showed us the sky and headed back for the off road journey home. 
We ended up getting home about 1am and it was defiantly a night to remember.

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