ACCOMMODATION: The ger. Or yurt. Great places, every one unique. They have their limitations though: I have brain damage from the number of times I've belted my head off ger doors. Would I be tall for a Mongolian herder? Probably not, I just lack spacial awareness... The acoustics are astonishing- you can hear every word and every movement made by your sleeping companions through the night, and they also seem to amplify the sound of young Americans 'rattling' their tourguides. Whoever he was, I got the whole thing from start to finish, apology included.
LOCATION: The Gobi desert's supposed to be about as isolated as you can get. Possibly the weirdest moment of the tour took place in Bayanzag, by the flaming cliffs, although I doubt it'll work in transcription. I accidentally put out the candle in the ger, and Claire and I, having no lighter between us, spend a few minutes firing up the paraffin stove to get a light, and all is well again. In walks a half-naked camel keeper (inevitably) named Geregerash, who mutters something about "nice to see you, welcome etc", looks at the candle, buggers about with it, puts it out, and disappears, leaving us in darkness. Large cartoon question marks all round (if we could see them).
HOTELIERS: Who were the first ever backpackers to RECEIVE gifts upon leaving a youth hostel? Us, that's who. Still not sure why Bobby did this magnanimous act wi the chocolates- I'd like to think it was our donation of books, or the photos we supplied for the website, but let's face it, it was the six hunner quid that went into their coffers, largely as a result of no other takers for our Gobi tour, upping the per head price somewhat.
EXERCISE: You get up a mountain much faster on horseback. Watch out Arthur's Seat, we're coming through.
FELLOW TRAVELLERS: I'm digging a grave for myself here, but it was character-bulding to be known as 'Captain Shithead' for nine days in Northern Mongolia- cheers Andy, Alasdair and Minke; the card marathons were top-drawer.
SPORTS: The Mongol Rally finish line is at an English pub called Dave's Place in Ulaan Baatar; it's got a chequered flag and everything. We felt quite privileged seeing people arrive, until we realised that the Mongol Rally must have such a disparaty of durations that there are probably people finishing all year round.