Heathrow was a manic as usual. We were the annoying family who held up the queue whilst repacking our suitcases at check in. Apparently 26kg was too much – that’ll be my suitcase then! After a bit of re-packing (again) it was stickered and sent through, fingers crossed it met us in Mongolia. As we walked away from the check in desk I realised that was it. Every goodbye was done, our suitcases were sent and all that was left between us and a good idea we’d had 8 months ago was 24 hours of travel. For a fleeting moment I felt trapped in our own plan, sad that I was leaving England, concerned that 2 plane journeys would always be between me and home for the next 2 years and scared about whether it was the right decision. But that moment was fleeting, I couldn’t stand and cry, there was the small matter of 3 children accompanying us who didn’t need to know that Mummy had concerns and doubts, they needed to know that it was still a big, exciting adventure, oh and there was security to get through, that soon took my mind off things!
The rest of Heathrow was actually quite pleasant due to the fact that our flight was the last one of the day, the shops were shutting as we did our last minute shopping for entertainment on the flight for the children and it became scarily quiet. Once on the plane being served chicken and rice at midnight wasn’t that appetising but it gives you something to do, to pass the time and the cereal bar for pudding was stashed in the hand luggage in case of emergencies later.
Keeping amused in the airport and our Russian Rubles
We landed in Moscow at 4.30am Russian time and due to needing visas to escape the airport we were trapped for the next 13 hours before our next flight. After a breakfast in Costa – it felt like we hadn’t left the UK at all – we began looking for the capsule hotel that a fellow passenger had told us about. On arrival a ‘no rooms available’ greeted us but Pete being Pete didn’t believe them and asked at the desk. 5 minutes later we had a twin room. It was a bit like ‘A squash and a squeeze’ but we could lie down – 2 per bed and one on the floor – bliss. Half an hour later we were all asleep for a 3 hour nap. After our hotel stay we exhausted all that an airport has to offer, and eventually we boarded our second flight. After the meal and a film we attempted sleep, I failed but the children slept soundly not even waking when we had to put on their seat belts due to turbulence.
The descent down into Ulaanbaatar airport was amazing, all we could see was a beautiful sunrise over hills and mountains surrounded by early morning mist. The scene was one that we had seen repeated so many times through all the books and photos on the internet that we’d looked at and now we were finally there, it was stunning.