03-Sep-2004 -- It takes a special kind of person to want to run a marathon in the Gobi desert – daft? That type of person seems also to be the kind that likes to hunt Confluence Points.
The 3rd annual Gobi International Marathon was to be held in the Southern Gobi province on 5th September. Some of the participants decided to drive down from Ulaanbaatar. When I suggested to the others that we might do some “hunting” on the way there was unanimous approval. I targeted 2 points (45N 106E and 44N 105E). These were on the way and unvisited. On the way south, however, there was an irresistible urge to include also 46N 106E. We left UB at 2pm and drove south towards Mandalgobi. Before reaching this town we branched off to the west to find this additional point. Some drivers understand immediately what is required of them when shown the arrow and the distance - others, like this one, seem to have difficulty with the concept! There is a balance between staying on the road that is going roughly in the right direction and heading direct across country – often the choice turns out wrong. Once off-road it the driver also needs to decide whether to go through and over obstructions (hills, dry river valleys etc) or go round. There was plenty of advice from 7 “know-all” foreigners in the back of the van!
We arrived at the confluence at sunset and after taking the required pictures, set up camp about 200 metres away.
Arriving back at UB I now see that this confluence was visited within the last month by Nya. Ah well the next two will be ours.