24 Nov

MONGOLIA IS COOLER THAN COOL – IT’S COLD!!!

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Ulaan Baator’s claim to fame is “The Coldest Capital City in the World”.   When I read that I thought whoever had written it had never been to WInnipeg.   Unfortunately,  they were right!  My flight to Mongolia was delayed due to poor weather.  I arrived to minus 8-degree weather but learned an unseasonal cold spell would begin the next day – and it did.  For the next five days  the temperature was about minus 25 degrees.  The cold was not the worst – the wind and icy streets and sidewalks were more than I could handle.   I walked to the State Department Store the first day.  It was only a block away, but took me half an hour – it was so icy.  I saw two people have bad falls, and I so did not want to start this trip with a fall.  If I was going to be stuck inside I could not have found a better hostel.  Zaya hostel has to be one of the best I have ever stayed at.  It is big, spotlessly clean, includes a good breakfast,  and has great beds.  For $10 a night it is a great bargain.  Most of the guests here are doing the Moscow – Beijing train trip. This is such an interesting country.  I was amazed to find a 98 % literacy rate in a country with a 40% nomadic population. I finally was able to get out of the city on a tour to see the famous statue of Ghengis Khan (Chennggis Khan)  It is a pretty desolate country.  Nomads live in “gers” – round felt portable housing. Clothing is made of cashmere and yak wool.   Domestic horses and cattle are short, stocky, and hairy!.p1000348

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The sun finally came out, and it warmed up so I was able to get out and walk around to see the sights I came to see.  Chennggis Khan Square is huge,  surrounded by beautiful buildings.  A Monastery I visited was colorful and interesting.  15181516_10157775463440384_1278889589124645729_nimg_2066
img_2073The country may be cold but the people are warm and friendly so it really is a cool place to visit for sure!

23 Nov

Beijing Airport Business Hotel

img_2042img_2043I chose a flight from Vancouver to Ulaan Baator with a 19 hour layover in Beijing. As usual,  I booked my accommodation using www.booking.com.   I chose this hotel for several reasons.  At $21 / night it was inexpensive, offered a free shuttle service, and free breakfast.  I did not know where to pick up the shuttle but a gal at one of the Information desks in PEK called them for me and told me to go to Gate 5.  An inter-airport bus departed from that gate, but across the street was the shuttle bus parking. I had my reservation printed in Chinese, so the driver was able to determine I was in the correct spot.  It was about a 20 minute drive to the hotel, and checking in was quick and easy.  This hotel required the key car to be inserted in a slot to turn on the electricity in the room.  The room and bathroom were clean and basic.   I could not get the internet to work on my computer – but it did on my IPad.  In the morning I went for the free breakfast.  It was interesting.  There was nothing offered to drink.  Breakfast was a hot hard boiled egg, rice broth, steamed buns, and 3 kinds of salad.  I tried 2 of them.  They were very good but very salty.  Every hotel room in China has a kettle, and cups – but no tea or coffee.  I always have my own with me so I can have coffee when I wake up.  I caught the shuttle back to the airport expecting it to drop off at departures, but we were dropped off at exactly the same spot where they had picked us up.  I would certainly recommend this place if you are one a quick layover and only need a place to sleep and shower.

Salvează

Salvează

Salvează

Salvează

14 Nov

PACKED AND READY TO GO

I travel “light”.  Lots of people have asked what I take with me for a trip for 4 – 5 months. I am all packed for my next trip, so here is a list of everything I am taking.

 

PACKING                                                                                         img_2030

BACKPACK
weight – 15 lbs.

OUTSIDE COMPARTMENT
* small atlas
* map
* small notebook
* hotel reservations (printed in local language)
* tour information

MEDICAL BAG
hydration pills
immodium for diarrhea (use only in emerg) otherwise just drink lots of water and get the bug through your system
advil
gravol

Medications

Medications

bandaids
polysporin
neocitrin hot lemon drink
eye drops
tiger balm (best insect repellent)

I take things our of their containers and use small zip plastic bags instead.

SHOWER BAG
plastic soap dish (holds soap and one debit card underneath)
plastic toothbrush case (holds unused toothbrush and $200 U.S.D)
toothbrush and small toothpaste
deodorant
shower scrub mitt

shower bag

shower bag

flat drain plug
comb
razor
small sunscreen
small baby shampoo (washes me, my hair and my clothes)

ODDS & SODS BAG
paring knife
zap straps
batteries
carabiner
space blanket

Odds and Soda

Odds and Sods

spare luggage lock
spare headphones
headlamp flashlight

PACKING CUBE # 1
1 sport bra
2 underwear
swimsuit
nightshirt
sarong
1 pair of socks

PACKING CUBE # 2
3 short sleeved merino wool tshirts
1 tshirt short dress
1 short sun dress

PACKING CUBE # 3
1 long athletic shorts
1 short skirt with attached shorts
2 pair light cotton drawstring waist capri pants
1 pair leggings

a fold up tote bag – for one or two night  trips

folding bag opened up

folding bag opened up

folding bag folded up

folding bag folded up

flip flops
sketcher shoes

DAY PURSE for every day use (packed when I travel)
wallet (holds enough $$ for only ONE day)
copy of passport with emergency contact info
business cards

Purse for daily use

Purse for daily use

small camera
digital voice recorder
personal alarm
small pkg kleenex
small pkg hand sanitzer towels
toilet paper for 2 times

SLING BAG – expandable with zipper
* prescription meds
* big camera

Passport, Airline Ticket, Hotel Reservation

Passport, Airline Ticket, Hotel Reservation

computer
reading glasses
* zippered bag with chargers, batteries, adaptors, cords, spare hard drives.
* plastic case with passport and tickets/reservations (printed in local language) needed for today
* plastic case with health cards, medical card, Dive card, passport photos, currency cards, press pass pens, calculator, markers, earphones
* wallet with $$ for the day
copy of passport and emergency contact information   img_2026
plastic silverware
protein bars & coffee tubes
Steripen
Water heater
small flashlight
Plastic cup
* lip balm
* cough candy                img_2027
* kleenex
* sanitary hand wipes

*waterbottle
one set underwear
on travel days it also holds my small camera, and voice recorder

 

MONEYBELT
cash – I have U.S. and Chinese yuan
visa card
debit card
passport on days I do not need it

Sling bag

Sling bag

10 day supply of prescription meds

BECAUSE THIS TRIP STARTS IN COLD PLACES

I am taking a small roller carry on that holds my cold weather clothes. Once I reach Kathmandu I will give everything to staff at the hostel. It holds:

2 pair lined wind proof pants
2 pair heavier leggings
2 long sleeve tshirts
1 thermal vest
5 pair warm socks
3 pair light socks
hat, mitts (Red Canadian Olympic) for a photo at Everest, and a scarf

I always wear my warmest things on the plane as I am usually cold, and its easier to wear them. I will wear, short sleeve tshirt, long sleeve tshirt, leggings under warm pants, hoodie, boots and jacket. (oh yes, and socks and underwear!). I will keep my hoodie as I often need it on A/C busses etc. but everything else, including the suitcase, will have a new home when I leave Kathmandu.