10 October 2011
Overall a lost day! 18hrs, 2 flights, several books and one lost iPhone later and we were back home in Blighty in time for tea and showers. Cue the crippling driving/keith withdrawals (including both Joe and Hugh having mysterious hand pains ... phantom steering wheel syndrome anyone??).
We had few aims today but as before still somehow managed to feel pushed for time. Once in gear we proceeded to yo-yo between cashmere shops in search of the perfect item and/or inspiration for presents. Once these were procured we moved onto other gifts before settling in for some further relaxation and tea. A swift stop at a pizzeria and a misunderstanding with a strip club later and we were ready for an early night, in preparation for our 4am start.
Our first full day without driving saw us rise frustratingly early from bed, out of habit. Despite this we managed to do surprisingly little with our day. We treated ourselves to a full English at The Great Khan bar/ restaurant. This was followed by a preliminary scout round the shops in preparation for the cashmere carnage that would ensue the next day. We then headed for round two of the black market to find that it was closed. The congestion was so bad that walking back was our preferred option. Tired from our exercise we settled in to lounging in the hostels sofas whilst drinking tea and playing draughts. We got so carried away with our laziness that we even managed to miss lunch! In order to compensate for this we stuffed ourselves with gigantic dinner in a Mexican/Indian restaurant. This, combined with a few more pints than what we were used to (more than 4!) lead to us sluggishly seeking further drinking venues. We settled into a second bar and a few more pints, Joe and Hugh deciding to add to this by S-T-ruggling through a cigar each - a decision that they were going to regret the following day.
Total Distance Covered: approx 9500 miles
Made it to UB reasonably early and managed to find the ‘finish line’ fairly quickly. Almost straight away upon arrival we were surrounded by locals wanting to buy equipment etc from the ambulance, politely informing them we were not planning on selling anything they soon disappeared, however they had managed to leave with something…My Ipod! Bastards! Signing over Keith was a bit sad, seemed strange that we would no longer be driving everyday. A relief mainly but at the same time our adventure was at an end. Things got a bit stressful when all the hostels nearby were totally full but eventually we found a little gem, a friendly guest house with dorm rooms but had two lounges, free WiFi and what have you. After moving into our for the moment otherwise empty dorm room we went exploring. First to the department store with the intentions of buying some cheap clean clothes to wear whilst in UB however this was soon shot down after seeing the prices so we headed to the ‘Black market’ with images of cheap chino’s and loafers in our minds. Managing to catch the correct bus we eventually made it there. After a swift peruse of the second hand clothing stalls with Jeremy trying on some trousers, announcing they were too tight but buying them anyway, the market closed and we made our way back with only one pair of slightly suspect, second hand jeans between us. By the time we got back to the guesthouse we were ravenous so after quick, much needed showers we went in search of an eatery of some description. It was not long before we settled on a Pizzeria not far away. Inside we met some slightly crazy Welsh/Asian duo but managed to shake them off after while looking for a bar. After a rather unsuccessful search for further drinking holes we decided to head back.
Headed to the Hot springs early, and chose the one recommended in the guidebook. On entry however we found the water too hot to even dip your hands in so we had to make do with the slightly cooler, women’s pool, a little embarrassing at first but as we were the only people there we soon got over this. Leaving the hot springs by a different route in order to avoid the rivers, feeling refreshed we stopped for our final lunch of soup and super noodles. Soon after lunch and our last stint of bad roads we hit Tarmac! Never have I been so pleased to be driving on smooth roads at last. It was probably fairly fortunate due to the fact that on the last rough section the sliding side door had stopped closing and was now bungeed to the front door to keep it closed with a key stuck in the lock. With a huge impending thunderstorm we camped not far outside Ulaanbaatar for our last night in Keith.