Spending a week in ger country was amazing and peaceful and fascinating but I'm a city girl, right? I've tried to balance my country-time with city-time and have spent 5ish days in Ulaanbaatar.
This has been a bit of a week of realizations: 1) I realize I know nothing about Buddhism. 2) I realize I'm a closet country girl and 3) I'm really am a wanderer.
1) I went to a big Buddhist ceremony in the main temple in Ulaanbaatar and as far as I could tell - it consisted of people-watching, milling about, watching the head monk sit at the front and the distribution of Chocolate Wagon Wheels. Yes, I'm not kidding - wagon wheels - is it too late to tell them marshmallows aren't vegetarian and not even food. The ceremony was very cool, but it was all in Mongolian so I ducked out early.
2) You'd think that I'm a city-girl, raised in the big bad E-ville...but I'm not really. Back in the city I've been craving the country side. I've been dying for an endless view and watching the storms roll in for miles. So, I took off for a day to a National Park called Terelj a couple of days ago and hiked through pine and cedar forests to overlook more steppes and mountains. It was a picture perfect day and the weather finally cooperated.
3) I originally planned my trip to do the Trans-Siberian in both directions. Then I switched it to the Trans-Mongolian to the Trans-Manchurian. Then it became the Trans-Mongolian to the Silk Road. And now, I'm flying one leg.
I've decided to cheat and fly from Irkutsk to St. Petersburg to catch the White Nights Festival in the cultural capital of Russia, this will allow me to spend 4 days appreciating the depth and vastness of Lake Baikal instead of the depth of body odor of my train mates for 4 days. It's a large deviation but I think it will be worth it. I'll have plenty of time on the train and still will likely go through Kazakhstan but that's still a month away. I could end up in India knowing me.
Tomorrow I set off on my first epic train ride - Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk for 36 hours. I'm excited to get moving and see something new. I'm also really nervous about whether I'll like Russia, I guess it's the reason why I travel - to walk into the unknown with a backpack.
Random activity last night - went to the opera (in Mongolian).