Pleasant morning, but already warm at 6am. Cut up bruised peaches to add to muesli, but left our stale bread and bruised apples for passing goats. Cranes walking away from us leisurely under power lines. Pigeons startling out of grass along track. Falcon on small mud mound. And, a rare sight in bird eating Asia – an actual whole flock of small birds overhead.
Arrived at Ongi, to explore Ongiin Khiid, monastery and university ruins, young monks blowing horn call to prayer from turret. A couple of monks remain on site, we were allowed into temple to watch prayer chanting, striking drum and blowing shell. An old monk showed us around, and mimed his story about being smuggled out in a box with airholes as a small child escaping from Russian purges – he later returned to take up residence in spite of monastery not able to be sustained once river diverted for mining.
Day stayed overcast, so much cooler than yesterday. Stopped briefly at Saikhan Ovuu and got emails - poor Jon and Jude are at Dalanzadbad having done their differential (and maybe transfer case) and awaiting truck to transport their LandRover to Ulaanbaatar for repair. Stopped on rise for afternoon tea and to yet again check/ reorient direction, headed towards and through Bayangol.
Steppes became gradually greener, tracks less sandy, more prone to ruts from recent bogging. Arrived Arvaykheer, fuelled and bakery, looked around town - decidedly the most colourful rooftops of all towns seen to date.
Said goodbye to Gobi, and crossed into neighbouring amaig, paying toll as entered. Rain clouds threatened as passed old Soviet military base and pulled in to ruins for camp. Found military uniform buttons and shell casings before rain found us. Changed sim cards back to TravelSim for phone calls to Australia, had light dinner, editing photos, brief shower and bed...