So this post took longer to publish than planned but here goes.  2 weeks ago – the weekend during which I wrote the last post – we ventured to the bowling alley and a ger camp, hence the grumpy last post when I had that ‘Sunday feeling’ after a fab weekend.  Due to an invitation from the ‘board’ of the school and in order to celebrate Teachers Day we actually escaped from school ‘early’ and got the bus to meet the teachers, TA’s and admin staff from school.  I excelled myself and got the highest score out of over 30 of us in the first game.  Obviously the old timers knew that the next game was the one that counted and saved their skills for one where there were prizes.  My team came a respectable 4th – no prize but a great evening.image image image Cheesy selfie outside our home for the night.

The next morning we set off for our first taste of a ger camp. 20 members of staff rammed into a minibus with not an inch to spare – or so we thought – until we stopped at a vast supermarket and bought all the crisps, chocolate, biscuits and vodka we thought we could manage to carry on our laps for a 2 hour journey.  All essential supplies of course.

The journey was typical of Mongolia. I find its best just to talk to the people around you and not keep your eyes on the road, especially when the driver decides to overtake on a hill or when there is clearly a lorry coming in the other direction.  We made it in one piece and were immediately taken by the beauty of the place.  Out of the city there were no power stations in sight, no noisy 6 lane main road, no tower blocks, just gers, a lodge and mountains. Countryside for as far as the eye could see and peace.  A place so quiet it gave you time to think and some head space although I’m sure Pete would have loved to have a bit of 5 Live on in the background.

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Shamen and wigwam at the top of the hill and the view back down to camp.

Once we had unpacked we headed for a statue on top of the hill behind the ger to discover a huge wigwam, a statue and a Buddhist monument.  Leaving the children in the care of the others (well someone would keep an eye on them whilst we sneaked off for 10 minutes to ourselves wouldn’t they?) Pete and I took the opportunity of walking on to see if we could see in the other direction over the hill we were on.  We’ve tried this behind the school and just discovered that when you reach the ‘top’ you discover it’s not the top.image

Our ger – pretty spacious.

After having dinner together in the lodge we tucked the children in to bed for the night and informed Seb that we were just popping up to the lodge for a drink and would be back in half an hour.  2 hours and a lot of fun later, we returned.  I was persuaded to sing a karaoke song – well it was that or a frame of snooker – and once I’d done one, there was no stopping me.  A little vodka helped me with the initial self consciousness but once I’d done one I got the bug.

image The lodge. imageKaraoke 🙂 image

Sound asleep when we returned.

After breakfast the following day and a ride on a camel for Seb and Erin (what a strange animal that is) we took the 2 hour scary ride back to the city.

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The cows popped by for breakfast.

image The view I woke up to.

The venture out of the city reminded me of Australia in some ways.  This country is vast.  I know that you could probably drive for another 2 days and the mountains and huge open valleys would keep on coming.  This country is beautiful too.  Before arriving in August I thought everything would be dry and barren and in places it is but, the trees surrounding the ger camp were showing the true yellows of autumn and were simply stunning.  A much needed get away revitalised us all, it gave the children a time to run and be free and explore with their friends, Pete a little sport and me a little bit of quiet – interspersed with the odd shout from a child in the distance but still a refreshing bit of quiet.

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My final bit of quiet! (And yes the sky is generally always that blue.)

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