Day 5 was the highlight of the tour and the remaining days were more or less just getting us back to Ulaanbaatar. The pictures in this post are actually day 6 at which point my last camera battery died just as I was shooting the stars in the evening. There wasn't much to shoot on Day 7 or 8 as we were driving all day and taking the same route back. So here we go, Day 6. I'm going to call this the night we sleep with mice in our ger. Or should I say, the night I could not sleep because there were mice in our ger.
After leaving the lovely dunes of the Gobi, we quickly stopped because our engine was overheating. Oh, don't we just love these Russian vans. It was fairly warm out and we find ourselves letting the engine cool periodically throughout the day. We stop where a nomadic family has set up tables of different souvenirs for purchase. While some are tending to the tables, others are tending to the livestock. Here the goats go wild for water. We end up stopping for lunch and as Rick and I walk around, we find a carnage of animal parts which is always a nice sight before eating. We eventually end up at Flaming Cliffs in the afternoon, which doesn't really look that flaming to us and we later find out, they appear "flaming" at sunset, so I guess we are too early for the fire. The site is also of importance because here is where many important dinosaur fossils have been discovered. Most famously, it's here where the first fossilized dinosaur eggs were found. This IS The Land Before Time! Nearby, we settle into our ger for the night and this was the least impressive as far as view and facilities thus far. The one perk was there was a tourist camp within walking distance where we could pay for a shower. Hallelujah! A proper shower. And when I say proper, I don't mean nice or clean—there were buzzing flies in mine and it was the kind of shower where you definitely want to wear your flip flops, but it did the job and there were no animal feces in sight. I'll take what I can get.
We walked around the area to find more animal parts strewn about.
What is with today and animal decay? The evening light was rolling in and we all decided to head back to the tourist camp for a nice cold beer at their bar, which in reality we found out what it actually meant was a nice warm beer in the dark because there was no electricity. Eh, you take what you can get.
We head back and the sky is brimming with stars. I take a few shots and we head to bed...
or so I thought... Rick and I as well as the Austrian couple crawl into bed still with the light on— well it's not a light, it's a candle, so we know we have a limited amount of light left. I take my glasses off and am laying there until I see a blob of white go across the floor. I think it's nothing and blame it on the fact that I don't have my glasses on. Wait! There is goes again. This time I put on my glasses and it's like living in NY all over again. Mice! Noooooooooo. Rick then sees another small one climbing on the WALLS! He checks under our beds and there is mice poop everywhere. I want to sleep in the van, on top of the van, I don't even care at this point. Rick thinks they are cute and I am annoyed that he can sleep soundly while I am up all night worried mice are going to crawl in my sleeping bag. It's pretty warm this night, but I fully zip up my down sleeping bag, which I later find out that I might as well be sleeping in a sauna. The Austrian couple seems just as grossed out as I am and we all move our backpacks away from our beds as to not create a grand staircase to our sleeping quarters which were are already pretty low.
We look at the candle and we guess we have maybe 30 minutes left of light and after that it will be dark—a free domain for the mice to run wild! I am freaking out. The ger has holes throughout and they run in as quickly as they run out. There's nothing to be done.
The candle goes out.
Our other two tour mates come in and I'm just concentrating on trying to sleep all the while trying to make some noise periodically so that if there is a mice near by bed, maybe it will be spooked. By this point, I'm sleeping with a towel over my head too because I'm imaging them running over my face.
I don't even know what time it is, but I am startled by the Austrian couple and their flashlight. A mouse is crawling on one of our tour mates beds. She hadn't moved her bags away from her bed and the mice took the stairs. By this point I'm sweating—dripping even, refusing to unzip my sleeping bag. Rick hasn't moved an inch and I am awake in a pool of my own sweat.
I barely slept that night and probably lost a few pounds of water weight while doing so. Morning came painfully slow and I was eager to get the heck out of there. Rick was rested. I was weary.
I told myself I'd sleep in the car, but then I remembered that surviving the bumpy roads awake was hard enough. Let's just say I was over the tour come day 7.
Day 7 was all driving minus a lunch stop as well as day 8 and we arrived back in Ulaanbaatar around six in the evening.
I hope there isn't a mouse in my bag...