Light rain Monday, fined up quickly. Cranes flying overhead with their low throaty croak (definitely Mongolians!)
In the hope of an imminent departure, drove around taking photos of town sights, including Aimag Map (ugly concrete shapes), Chinggis Khan (are the people ever enthusiastic/ patriotic/ fascinated by him!) and the Black Market, whilst looking for long neck socket in case we have to replace a spring in middle of nowhere (no luck though). Then, despondency –received email that the spring parts did not clear Customs today, nor get on Murun plane...
Sara rang, has completed scholarship application and wants assistance editing before submission - wow, a girl of determination and purpose, worth drumming up help for. Discussed ELICOS, IELTS assessments/eligibility, visa agencies, difference between vocational and academic studies and that she may be eligible for an undergraduate scholarship (bridging to Uni), researched scholarships, tuition fees vs living allowance, courses (eg Regional or Economic Development with a focus on leadership, women's studies, and tourism). Sara would probably need additional support for flights, food, housing, transport eg through clubs, associations, foundations - as a member of Rotary in Murun, perhaps they could facilitate international accommodation. It would certainly be worthwhile her getting a letter of recommendation from Lonely Planet. Sara promised to send an electronic copy of her resume/CV/ profile to start the process of building a support network in Australia.
Tuesday dawned. BoyRob re-glued button locks on cupboard doors, rubber seals on lockers and bathroom door. Then he made a stew in the DreamPot to have along track once we leave town – we’ll have long days of slow travel over poor roads ahead. Wrote 7 postcards, then revamped our original inventory list - what not needed, dump or send home etc (an interesting exercise – no we don’t really need vacuum seal system or large camp oven or portable printer….)
Yay - Mongolian Star Melchers expedited springs through customs, and they will arrive in the last plane today!!!! Took off with wide smiles, picked up parts at airport, went to drop off at garage, and they said “do now!” So front main spring was fitted by mechanic Muku over next couple of hours, BoyRob cleaning used parts as removed, and packing them as spares. The boss came in beaming taking photos of his unique customers! Sara turned up introducing her husband who proceeded (successfully!) to scour the town for our just-in-case long nose tool! Drove home in the late dusk full of plans for the morrow.
Wednesday awoke smiling. Bracket/holder constructed on rear of EC chassis for storage of 2 spare springs, but what a 3 ring circus event: had welder but no drill for holes, no bolts, didn’t measure anything, refused to work from BoyRob’s design… end result is rough and works, but now blocks access to Max Trax.
In the meantime, GirlRob sat at Mongolia Telecom, wrote emails to contacts who may assist Sara get a study scholarship to Australia, answered Ann’s questions about next year’s trip planning, printed Miles' road log ahead and Lance's documents re proof of vehicle ownership, and finally blog entries until power ran out on laptop. Fuelled up, including auxiliary tank even though we have avoided using it since it last sheared off the holding bolts (there are limited ATMs and fuel supplies on this long western stretch), filled up drinking and tank water, last minute groceries, and finally on way by 3pm, 5 days behind travel companions. Goodbye Murun, you’ve been good to us!
Very bad corrugations for up to 50km, then travelled alongside a pretty tree-lined river through valleys in a light rain, muddy track, magnificent rainbow.
Saw up to 50 cranes strutting through grasslands sometimes squabbling, short jumps off ground, wings flapping madly (mating?) Pulled over just before 8pm, having done 125kms in 5 hrs (av 25kph), but felt good to be in new territory. Camped in high spot off track in hollow between pancake-stacked granites. Ate the hot and hearty stew, and saved enough for another meal along track.