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Mongolia – An adventure into The Gobi Desert

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Having passed through the Russian border control without issue, we breathed a sigh of relief and snuggled into the first class bunks we had treated ourselves to for this journey. We had read that the Russia to Mongolia border crossing can sometimes take up to eight hours, so we were very surprised to find Mongolian immigration knocking on our door twenty minutes later. Following one more search of our cabin and after a rather stern lady immigration officer had had a good look at Ross (he had just had a haircut and clearly looked suspicious), we received our stamps into Mongolia and the train rumbled off towards Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital.

SW_ColePatrick-e1440206966524We arrived in Ulaanbaatar at six thirty in the morning, much to our surprise as we had thought we would be arriving about six hours later. Up until now, all the trains we had caught had been operating on Moscow time, but of course as soon as we had entered Mongolia, the train began operating on Mongolian time, so we had skipped forward six hours when we crossed the border. So, slightly disoriented we alighted the train into the bright Mongolian sunshine and after a long wait in the central square and a bakery, we headed to our hostel.

On our travels we have stayed in a huge variety of places, from bamboo huts to salt hotels, but never had we stayed in a hostel where so many people were squashed into such a small flat. A large Mongolian family, an eight bed dorm and a double room all in a small apartment, all sharing one bathroom with no lock. Thankfully, we had booked the one and only double room, so after Grandma had kicked out another British couple (sorry Kate and Ross) we settled in. Somehow, despite the lack of space, the hostel worked and it was a very sociable place where we met other backpackers to take a couple of tours with, the first to The Terelj National Park just for a day and the second an eight day trip deep into the Gobi shy-863056_1920

Mongolia had always been a country we had planned to pass through on our way from Russia to China, but we hadn’t really given it a lot of thought. The capital is a modern, rapidly developing city, but those who live in the countryside live a predominantly nomadic life, moving their ger camps (yurts to us) depending on the season. Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country on earth, so the countryside is wonderfully remote and wild, but also not very accessible to your average poorly prepared backpacker. In order to independently explore Mongolia, we felt we would need our own wheels and some serious equipment (a bit more than just a spork for example), so we decided to leave the transport and planning to the professionals and see Mongolia on a tour.

So after a taster of things to come from our day trip to the Terelj National Park and having been told horror stories of flies laying their eggs in human eyes by our kind fellow hostel companions, we set off for the Gobi in a very robust looking Russian van, which had been blessed with milk, a Mongolian tradition when anyone is embarking on a long journey. Our companions for the trip were to be driver and chequers champion Oogi, guide Undra and the British couple, Kate and Ross, who seemed to have forgiven us for kicking them out of their double room.

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Neymar in shocking move to Man United from PSG

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Paris Saint-Germain forward, Neymar will likely leave the club to join Premier League giants, Manchester United at the end of the season.

Manchester United have been linked with a move to sign the Brazilian international and are set to rival Champions League holders, Real Madrid.

Daily Record reports that Man United chiefs have reportedly made Neymar their number one top transfer target for the summer transfer window after failing to sign a player last January transfer window.

Neymar will miss PSG’s first and second legs Champions League round of 16 ties with Manchester United on February 12 and March 6 due to injury.

The 27-year-old picked up the knock during PSG’s Coupe de France win over Strasbourg few weeks ago.

The kick-off time for the match is 9pm.

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PSG fined €100,000

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Paris Saint-Germain have been fined 100,000 euros ($114,000), after a collective negligence led to racial profiling at youth-team level inside Ligue 1 champions, French league authorities said Tuesday.

The matter began when French investigative website, Mediapart, revealed racial profiling by talent scouts since 2013, where potential youth signings were identified by their ethnicity.

The Qatari-owned club also face an upcoming hearing from the Paris prosecutors on the same matter.

The football league said the use of these forms had no part in a general racial profiling culture.

“From what we can see PSG did not use the information on ethnicity for discriminatory ends. There is no case of discrimination that can be proved.

“It is more a case of individual clumsiness and collective negligence,” LFP disciplinary commissioner Sebastien Deneux said at a press conference.

The youth candidates were categorised as French, North African, West Indian or African.

Such profiling is illegal in France.

One of PSG’s youth team directors Bertrand Reuzeau, who was in charge from 2013-2015, was given a suspended fine of 10,000 euros for his role in the matter.

The club itself launched an internal investigation in October “to understand how such practices could exist and decide what measures to take”.

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Copa del Rey: Barcelona’s squad against Levante released

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Barcelona have released their line-up that will tackle Levante in tonight’s Copa del Rey second leg round of 16 tie at the Camp Nou Stadium.
The La Liga champions head to the game following a 2-1 defeat in the first leg.

According to Barca Blaugranes, Barcacelona’s coach, Ernesto Valverde released a list of 18 players.
The players include two goalkeepers, five defenders, eight midfielders and three forwards.
Below is the Barcelona’s squad against Levante:
Goalkeepers: Marc-André ter Stegen, Jasper Cillessen
Defenders: Nélson Semedo, Gerard Piqué, Clément Lenglet, Jeison Murillo, Jordi Alba
Midfielders: Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Denis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, Arthur, Sergi Roberto, Carles Aleñá, Arturo Vidal
Forwards: Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembélé
The kick-off time for the match is 9:30pm.

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