Day 20: Uggi Lake to Tsenkher (August 13)
*photos to come later*
Just before 7am I woke up as a heard Kim getting ready. I stayed in bed a little longer feeling tired from staying up a bit later the night before to enjoy the stars. I then quickly packed up my things and joined the others for breakfast. I can’t recall the details of it, but it was fine I’m sure. We were on the road just after 8am today and it was a BUMPY ride. I don’t think I mentioned it earlier, but we’re all in a minivan and there are no seat belts. On top of this some of the seats don’t have headrests. When we go off road (which felt like most of the ride today) it quickly becomes a whiplash mobile. I got air (meaning I physically lifted off my seat) while we drove today on multiple occasions. Tugi tells us tomorrow will be even more offloading. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. Jeff Bezos if you’re reading this (and I know you’re not) can you please just give a bit of money to Mongolia so they can build some half decent roads… or in many cases roads at all. On multiple occasions today we saw:
So many horses.
Soo many cows.
Sooo many lambs/sheep.
And sooooooooooo many goats.
It’s actually remarkable how many animals we saw today. On multiple occasions we had to drive around them on the road or honk the horn to get them to move. On one occasion two cows weren’t having any of it and just stayed right in the middle of the road lacking any sense of urgency to move away. In another instance, a few horses opted to run forward rather than to the side and we need to quickly put on the break to avoid hitting them. We made one bathroom stop today and another to stretch our legs. While we were stretching our legs Tugi told us there was a mobile phone store right here if any of us wanted data. Dave opted to get a SIM card (about $8 dollars for 10gbs of 4g data – that’s how bad we are getting screwed at home). The SIM card didn’t work in his phone, but he had already purchased it so I bought it off him and put it in my phone since I was confident it would work…and it did without issue. Whenever it was needed I would just provide a hotspot for the others.
Arriving just a short bit before 1pm we put our bags in our gers (Dave and I bunked together today – mostly so he could use my data via a hot-spot) and then went for lunch. Lunch was salad, pumpkin soup, veggies, and rice (though the food seems to be higher quality today). During lunch, we all booked massages here since they were pretty affordable ($25 USD) for an hour. Jamie and Kim opted for facials/head massages while my other two brothers and I booked full body. Something in lunch didn’t seem to sit too well with me though since my stomach started feeling pretty dodgy (I think you can read between the lines) shortly afterward.
Immediately after lunch Kim and Jamie went to get their massages. I finally got to see my beautiful partner Shantel’s face on video chat for a short bit and Dave caught up on email. and I went to go take a look at the hot springs. One look and I was immediately disappointed. Rather than a natural hot spring which is what I was expecting it was just pools filled with the water for a hot spring piped into it. In other words, it looked and felt like a big hot bath. It was still relaxing and nice, but I would have really preferred for it to be more in nature and for the water to be much hotter.
After a short rest around 3:45pm we all went a mini hike (more of a walk) up a large hill nearby to get a nice view of the area. On top, we were quickly swarmed by flies so we made our way down to investigate the source of the hot springs water used to fill the pools. At the source, the water was very very hot. By very very hot I mean you could only keep your finger in for a second or two.
Once we made it back to the camp I grabbed some much needed Pepto Bismol from Kim, showered and my brother and I went for our massages. He opted to pay a few dollars more to try some unique Mongolian massage with milk in place of oil. We both agreed the massages were excellent. It was impressive how much strength these small Mongolian women had in them.
When we finished our massages it was pretty much time for dinner so we made our way there. Dinner was pretty similar to lunch for me but was still quite satisfying The meat eaters had Yak ribs which I think was a first for them all. During dinner, I told Tugi our massages were great and asked about the training they do in Mongolia. He explained that the two young women were students studying completely different things and would have just learned from others or at most taken a two-day course. It made it even more impressive that they did such a good job with limited training. I blew Tugi’s mind a bit I think when I told him that in Canada people study for years to become a massage therapist.
Once dinner finished my brother and I rinsed off and then spent a little time in the hot springs. Around 9pm as I was leaving the pool Dave went in for his massage. While he was getting his massage I was able to sneak in two more quick video chats with Shantel as she woke up and then as she was relaxing in the sun on the dock at the cottage she is at for a couple of days. It was such a nice treat!
Tomorrow we’ve got a lot more off-road driving so we’re starting the day even earlier than the last couple days. The plan is to meet for breakfast at 6:30am and get on the road shortly afterward. On that note, it’s time for bed!