Monday, August 20, 2007
From beautiful lake Baikal we returned to Irkutsk and I wandered along the banks of the Angara before boarding the evening train for the Trans-Mongolian, the final section of train journey. Ulan Ude and the southern shore of Lake Baikal passed in the night and I awoke to see another lake in Buryatia.
The Russian border officials turned the train inside out, and we waited interminably in Sukhbaatar also. The latter was distinctly friendlier, however, and I began to warm to the steppe landscape and sounds outside. It was another night before we arrived in Ulaanbaatar, a dusky light covered the city and the ger suburbs stretching out for miles. Pulling into the station, I savoured the arrival. Our friend Sarah was waiting on the platform and we went to a car and traversed a surreal other-worldly city to arrive at the VSO building and vols room before 7am.
As colleagues gradually appeared, we washed and hungrily ate lunch in welcoming surroundings, before venturing on a bus to a ger district where the Womens farming Coop hosted a party for departing volunteer Maija. The snarling ger-camp dog contrasted with the idyllic grassy picnic spot next to crops and chickens and gers. But the mountains all around are a powerful backdrop there as well as here in the city centre.