Posted by: TomA | 14 August 2008

Our final days in Ulaanbaatar

So it’s been a long time since I last blogged, when we just arrived in Ulaanbaatar. So, briefly:

One of the best days of the entire trip was laid on by the Children’s Protection and Development Fund, to whom we were donating the Land Rover. They took us out to their mission in Ulaanbaatar to meet the children, show them the car and see their work. We had a lovely (read, tiring) game of football with them too – those 8 year olds were running rings around Ollie and I. We spoke to one of the main guys at the charity, who told us why a lot of these kids were homeless: the usual tales of poor economic conditions resulting in families being unable to support the kids, abuse and orhaned. One reason stuck out though: the computer game Counterstrike. Apparently, lots of kids go into internet cafes and spend all night playing Counterstrike obsessively, and are then too scared to return home. Coincidentally, team F7F7 are big counterstrike fans, thus contributing to the homeless problem in Mongolia by shooting children in online gaming. Oh dear….

The charity then took us back to their office, plied us with fermented mare’s milk (a rather unpleasant taste – a bit horsey, a bit lemony, a bit beery and it turns your stomach in the morning…), plenty of vodka and some pizza. Their kindness and help was really touching. While we were there, someone came having seen the Defender and had apparently offered to buy it for $25,000. Its still going in for auction, so if there are a few interested parties, hopefully it’ll raise lots more than the $20,000 we expected it to! And the proceeds should go towards employing some teachers for the children, which would be fantastic as their funds have been too tight to do this for the past 6 months or so.

Flying home was good fun. We decided not to go via Beijing (a 24 hour wait in the airport and the need to get a transit visa made it too much hassle to save $150), so a Miat flight to Soeul and then onto Heathrow on Air Korea.

Getting aclimatised to being back in the UK has been tough. Though hot running water, flush toilets and a diet that doesn’t consist entirely of meat has been rather pleasant…!

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