July 29-30: Arrival and Setting Out for the Gobi

After a great dinner with Mike's parents, Joe and Bonnie, the night before on Fisherman's Wharf, we flew from SF to Seoul, then Seoul to Ulaan Baatar (UB) on MIAT.

On arriving, Ursie and our driver, Sharijov, met us. We stayed in a UB Guest House apartment. Sharijov is Buryat, a Mongolian-Russian ethnic group from northern Mongolia and the Lake Baikal area. He flew helicopters for 30 years for the Soviet army, often taking Soviet VIPs on aerial tours of Mongolia, hence his knowledge of the terrain. He is also the father-in-law of Ursie's mentor, Amartuvshin.

The next morning, we got provisions at the Black Market and ate our first mutton dumplings at Sharijov's apartment.

We headed south for the Gobi in our sturdy, shockabsorberless, seatbeltless, Russian 4-wheel-drive van and met a herd of camels.

Tea was made by applying a blowtorch to a pail of water hung from the rear of the van. We also had a small, wood-fired stove for more formal dining.