Mongolia – on our way to the coldest capital of the world and the Gobi desert

Km 6924 – Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

TSETSERLEG – ULAANBAATAR

  • Tstetserleg is a small beautiful province capital with a buddhist tempel – the first one on our journey. We stay for three days and rest, enjoying vegetarian food and pastries from a bakery managed by an Australian family.

  • „The one who experiences a lot has no time to write it down“ says Alexis Sorbas in the novel of the same title from Nikos Kazantzakis. Thats why I will not report on a lot more kilometers on the bikes, the yellow smog of Ulaanbataar, tedious bureaucracy (China visa), laid-back evenings in the hostel and so on. Just one small story:

  • It is already dark when we unload our bicycles off Bayar’s truck and we want to look for a place to sleep in the small village of Erdenesant. We are about to leave the place disappointedly, when Gana starts talking to us. The fourty-something year-old speaks German, because he had studied for four years in the GDR. A good time, Gana underlines, but he almost forgot the language, as he states a lot of times. Back then he was selected for a scholarship with five other Mongolians. 500 Mark pocket money – his face still gleames about this financial uplift. Food and accommodation were provided by the university, so he could save the money and after just one month he was able to buy a television. After four month he could afford a „Lada“ (russian car brand). At that time, as a young man, he also liked to drink. His description sounds very much like „work hard, party hard“. Unfortunately, he experienced rascim as well, which was mainly focused against Vietnamese people, to which he was wrongly assigned.

  • We sit together with him and have a big bottle of beer in front of us. Gana confesses that he wants to stop drinking the day after tomorrow – he promised his wife. The next morning (we could stay overnight) we see his unvarnished suffering. Gana is alcohol dependant and shortly after breakfast he starts to beg us to buy him a bottle of beer. His wife would not allow him to do so, but as a farewell present from us, she would accept it. Out of gratitude I nearly give in to fulfil the wish of this good person. He talks about the pain-relieving and power delivering force of the beer and I answer with an explanation about the toxic long term consequence. For one moment he understands, just until his body is screaming again, so he is begging again. Only the alcohol would balance his body and his mind. Despite all, Gana stays friendly and we do not buy him any drinks. As always we hand over some presents and some money to cover the expenses of the invitation. But Jana prefers to give the money to Ganas wife Mendee 😉

THE GOBI DESERT

  • Spontaneously we do something, we usually never do: we book a tour! In the hostel some people searched for fellow travellers to reduce the costs for the car, the driver and the fuel. Why not? we think. And in no time at all we sit in the back of a Russian van.

Highlights:

  • Friendly fellow travellers (including the driver and his wife)

  • Wonderful nature: some snow-capped passes, canyons and rock formations with a lot of colours and the Mongolian wideness.

  • Gazelles, kangoroo mice, marmots, camels, horses, yaks and a fox.

  • Very impressive: singing dunes – a rumbling caused by sand avalanches

  • Aaron and Brian teach us poker.

  • The last overnight-stay with a local family (see pictures).

Lowlights:

  • In total: exhausting – too much time in the car, bad roads and a loud engine.

  • Constant coordination with the group members. Six people. Eight opinions.

  • Tourist destinations cause tourist prices and strategies (Money for camping in the never ending width of the land of nomads or intransparent charges).

 

  • Thus we miss our bicycles: more exercise, more freedom of decision. Plus you experience nature very close, without windows, without the smell of fuel or the noise of an engine.

Here you find recent PICTURES and the ROUTE we took (just click on the words)!

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