Our last day in the desert was what might be called ‘chill’. Everyone was slow moving in the morning for a variety of reasons, mainly alcohol, but who’s counting. I woke up at 6am to watch the sunrise. Since we’d arrived in the desert, I’d been obsessed with seeing a sunrise. I imagined this spectacular event, with the sun burning intense colours. It wasn’t quite that awe-inspiring, but it was gorgeous nonetheless.

 

Ger camp at sunrise

This was probably our least scheduled day in the desert. There were technically only two activities on our agenda. The first was driving out to see a certain kind of plant, called ‘saxual’ (that’s what my guide called it!). The second activity was to ‘climb’ Wish Mountain. The adventure to the equivalent of a Gobi cactus wasn’t that exciting. After seeing the plants, we wandered around the bush, found a camel skeleton, and a pile of random burnt stuff. The skeleton and the burnt stuff were surprisingly interesting, or maybe we are just easily occupied.

 

It was back in the van after that to drive to the Mountain. This mountain is also called “One Man’s Mountain”. There are stairs all the way to the top and there are two different peaks, marked by stupa. We didn’t know prior to arriving at the mountain, but of course the lower of the two peaks is for women. We weren’t even allowed to go past that peak. Us two North American gender-equally raised females weren’t exactly impressed by this, but when it’s not your culture you go with. We chilled at our stop while the guys climbed to theirs.

 

The views from the mountain are quite spectacular and you are able to see most of the East Gobi. Well worth the fairly easy climb.

 

The roads in this part of the desert are significantly worse than the areas we’d been the previous two days. I had a upset stomach this day and well those roads aren’t exactly the nicest. With Wish Mountain being our last stop, we then went back to the camp for lunch and hang out time before going to the train. Little did I know, that my sickness at lunch would be a blessing in disguise. I only ate plain rice for lunch, while the rest of the group ate dumpling soup and the traditional Russian equivalent to a healthier pizza pocket. After an afternoon of relaxing, we were driven back into town by our driver who smelled of vodka. Always a good idea, but what else are you going to do in the middle of the desert. As a parting gift for him, we encouraged this consumption by giving him a bottle of Chinggis. Oops! Oh, he also might have backed into another vehicle in the train station parking lot. Nothing bad but still…

Our driver (Neo) and our guide (Joey)

By the time we were back in town, one member of our group was near vomiting. At the train station, he puked once, and then again on the train. By midnight, the other two in my group were vomiting as well. Although I was sick, I was definitely up the entire night with the various sickies. Being in a cramped compartment with three vomiting people is not fun. I wouldn’t recommend it.The train trip on the way there was amazing, the return not so much. But it was still an amazing trip, and even though the ending was bad, no one in our group would’ve changed a thing.

 

This was the original plan for the train, it didn't happen

-Heather

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