Saturday’s breakfast consisted of an unexpectedly delicious combination of eggy bread and condensed milk. We were practically jumping out of our seats on the minibus with anticipation for the adventure in store. The three hour journey was increasingly picturesque as we left behind the bustling city of Ulaanbaatar and immersed ourselves in the rolling mountains of Terelj national park. We also discovered our first jar of real Mongolian peanut butter at a rest stop en route! Our first stop was at the imposing fifty-metre-high Chinggis Khan statue. The group trekked up the winding staircase to the statue horse’s mane for a stunning vantage point. After our detour, we headed for lunch in the national park. Our food had some curious ingredients; one matchstick was located in Rebecca’s beef noodles - a flavourful addition.
Mounting Turtle Rock was our next challenge. Some members of our team preferred a slow and steady approach to climbing, while others clambered up the rocks like mountain goats. The excitement became insurmountable when we were given the opportunity to ride camels, and the entire group managed to successfully mount and dismount without a single camel-related incident. Unfortunately the camels couldn’t quite carry us to our next destination: a monastery at the top of a steep path and another flight of stairs. Crawling up the steps was worth the enchanting view at the top and the ornately decorated temple we then eagerly explored. We finally reached the ger camp at about seven and were served dinner at the restaurant on site - this time without a side of matchsticks. The night sky was clear and frequently featured shooting stars - some of us even managed to spot the Big Dipper. It was invitingly warm inside the gers and the evening was definitely a highlight of the trip.
Sunday morning was an early start for those of us who dragged themselves out of bed at five to see the sun rise. The surroundings were ideal for watching it and made for some excellent photos. Breakfast at the camp was buffet style and we snatched up the delicious fluffy pancakes at alarming speed. Having eaten sufficiently we trekked up one of the mountainsides that enclosed the gers. It proved for a stunning view and some final photo opportunities before we returned to the minibus. When we arrived back in Ulaanbaatar we stopped for a delicious Indian lunch that was also a team favourite. Upon our arrival back at the guest house we took a compulsory rest hour where we each sat silently on our beds and read, journaled or took a much-needed nap. After our peaceful hour we were herded out of the hotel to possibly the most exciting destination of all: the wool shop. Augusta was prickling with excitement at the prospect of purchasing wool from the appropriately named shop until she realised that it did not in fact sell actual wool. We enjoyed the view from the escalators as we glimpsed the exciting products in the Nomin supermarket, and then proceeded to visit ‘Mongolia’s largest souvenir shop’. The excitement of the school stationery aisle was almost too much for some members of the group. When we returned from our spree, Victoria cooked up a scrumptious roast of vegetables and chicken: our first home cooked meal! One last team building activity post-dinner then concluded our thrilling adventure.