18 June 2006


SUMMER SOLTICE Argalant 90km alt:1290metre.
We have delayed our journey by four days due to having been robbed in Ulaanbator and we have spent many low spirited days making international telephone calls that were often to no avail. The Golomt Bank replaced half of my travellers cheques but due to language difficulties i was later made to actually pay for them. The distressed bank teller found me the next day in the street yelling out "you are very bad,bad,bad..." I would like to believe that she intended to state "that this is bad". So, with three hundred US dollars cash and one thousand in cheques gone my next engagement was with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs in Beijing. After negotiating ineffective telephone menus; often in Mandarin; i was able to contact Kim Freeman on +(86)1051404111 kim.freeman@dfat.gov.au who was of immense help in organizing a British Travel Document. For all Australians i highly recommend her if you require consular assistance.
It was rather apt that we started on a very warm day with exactly 16:02 hours of sunlight and vivid blue skies with the occasional billowing cumulus cloud. Our delay in the hot dusty streets of the capital was frustrating and at times dangerous in the heavy traffic. Open drain holes; large enough to dispatch a bicycle; thwarted our journey to the countryside.
Our campsite tonight near the Argalant turn off (i transliterated the road sign with success) placed us on the wrong road, having missed the unsigned road to Bulgan. A spectacular hailstorm plunged the temperature by probably 20 degrees and 5mm ice stones forcefully pelted us and did hurt at its peak. The highlight of the day was obtaining water from two twelve year old herder boys in their roadside "outstation". Obviously limited in their interaction with foreign travellers, with shy delight they assisted us. With mindfullness they ladled water into our bottles.Their room had two beds, a water bucket, toothbrushes and very little else.
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