Mongolian cities simply aren't nice. I have the feeling Mongolians never really understood how to build them. Tsetserleg, the only city I actually liked was only an exception confirming the general rule. Olgiy was no exception. Chaotic and full of dust the city doesn't really make the best impression. But it had a big market. And we had a clear plan.
I have to admit Mongolian wetter took us by surprise. Don't get me wrong, we were not naive enough to think we will have perfect summer heat the whole time. But honestly we were also not expecting minus temperatures in August. And the constant freezing wind only made things worse. That is why we decided we need specialized equipment: camel and yak wool! However it was surprisingly hard to find, though the land is full of those animals. Generally buying traditional Mongolian things turned out to be very tricky. Each city has a market, but they all seem to be full of cheap, low quality Chinese products. You may get Hello Kitty socks in all colours and sizes, but camel wool doesn't seem to be too popular. Nevertheless in Olgiy we managed to find a nicely supplied shop. And we left it with a whole bag of socks and two proper camel caps. We were ready for Mongolian wind again.
Though to be really honest I was a bit afraid. We took some warm clothes of course, but I was still not willing to freeze from now on till the end of our journey. I already imagined the temperatures going even lower in Kazakhstan and mountain regions of Kyrgyzstan. It made me shiver again! But I got some new hope! Sergiej, a Kazakh truck driver we met told me not to worry as I will certainly unpack my bikini again in his country. I hang on his words now, hoping to get some sun again soon.
We had one more task in Olgiy: visa applications, the biggest nightmare for most travelers, especially those in central Asia. This bureaucracy seems to have no end. And the rules keep changing from time to time to make things even more complicated. But then again those rules are useless anyway. The rule is that you don't need an official letter of invitation for some countries, but in practice it takes only one day to get a visa if you have one and up to 15 days in you don't, so the decision seems to be quite simple. And this time we decided to take no risks and order the letters. But the whole process is cruel anyway. We are doing what we can to make our trip as flexible as possible. We don't make too many plans and we are always ready to change the ones we had. And suddenly all those people want us to know on which day exactly do we want to enter a country we plan to visit in 2 or 3 months and what our route will be like. And how should we know that? That is why filling out all those online applications took us a while. Especially that internet connections in Olgiy was only working few times a day, for limited period of time. But it was still better than hot water, which was not working at all. But we finally made it! And we'll see if we did a good job in Almaty, the city where we want to pick up our final visas. So keep your fingers crossed!