Archive for May, 2009

No more messing about…

Suukbaatar It’s going to be a while until the next post.

This time it’ll be three weeks.

Sand dunes, ice gorges, cliffs, fossils, mountains, big lakes, valleys, an ancient capital and my arse is starting to itch already…


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Goodbye Bulgan…

The girl next door...Friday, 29th May.

The dogs barked all night, the wind blew constantly and I woke up freezing cold.

I went to my favorite “shitting rock”, then laid down to look at the clouds…on a different rock.  It was the most sky I’d ever seen.

We waited a couple of hours for our truck to take us to the nearest bus stop. Then we headed back to Ulaanbaatar in a bus full of Mongolian kids and a drunk who seemed very happy to see us.

Got back late. Convinced the same hostal to give me a bed for a couple of days, then started to think about where to go next…

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Trouble x2Friday, 29th May

Our lazy, fat, drunk host, that we found snoring off his vodka hang-over  on our arrival, took us to the ruins of a monastery that the communists had destroyed.  There we talked briefly with the niece of one of the female monks of the new monastery, re-built on the same site in the mid-nineties.

After playing with the host’s sister’s evil twin sons for the entire afternoon then watching the grandmother suck up her noodles through the gargantuan gap in her immense lower teeth, I slept on a bed frame and three narrow planks of wood. It occurred to me that the little girl next door, who was the same age as the twin boys, hardly ever dared approach us and we only got a close look at her when we were all in the ger together. She seemed a lot smarter than all the other children I’d met and considerably prettier. It turned out she was just incredibly shy. It’d be a shame if she got stuck here all her life, which may well happen as in Mongolian culture men always come first.

Decided to sell my riding boots on eBay. I gave the first family quite a show for the good part of an hour trying to squeeze in to them then giving up…really pissed off. The were a perfect fit in the market. I went outside to take a photo of them with a Mongolian backdrop (as proof that they were “genuine Mongolian riding boots”)   and stumbled across the grandmother squatted above the ground having a piss with a strained look on her face and the dogs sniffing around her arse.  I went back inside. We’re going back to Ulaanbaatar tomorrow.

Just saw the little girl again. As beautiful as this place is, I do hope she finds a way out of here.

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Ogi freezing his little Mongolian bollocks off...Wednesday, 27th May.

Just heaved some more sheep dung into the stove.

I went out with Ogi, the brother-in-law of our drunk host. We took two horses up to the Buddhist monument on the horizon. We got up to quite a gallop on our way up there and he convinced me to stand up in the stirrups Mongolian-style. He’s a nice bloke, much more talkative than your average timid nomad.

Later, we went on to visit one of his neighbours whose ger was pitched next to a small lake. It was freezing cold, trying to snow and Ogi wanted a cup of  salty tea. On the way there I could see our ger far off in the distance surrounded by ominous rocky mountains lit by a little bit of sunlight breaking through the clouds.

Two teenage kids and their mother were at home. She gave us a bowl of gorgeous honey tea and a plate of rice each. She then went back to attending to the three-month-old baby wrapped up in a tight bundle that I had previously been unaware of, tucked away at the back of the eastern bed surrounded by blankets. I could’ve almost convinced myself that I was following their conversation perfectly, just by the way they addressed each other. It could have been a front room in any part of the world.

It really wasn’t important that I didn’t understand a word.

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Bulgan province, day 3

WrestlerTuesday, 26th May

We left the family by camel early this morning. Badgirls didn’t want to say goodbye so I went after him and carried him down the hill to see us off. The journey was harder this time as I had all my luggage to carry. We crossed types of landscapes that I’d never seen before.

Shit, the  son of the family we’ re with now has just burst through the door with blooding gushing from his foot. His mum got a grotty rag to clean the wound with while the boy swayed a little looking like he was going to faint any minute. *Note. Remember to ask my mum if she has any family in Mongolia.* I whipped out my first aid kit and bandaged him up so tight that his foot will probable fall off before tomorrow. This can’t be the first time it’s happened, he must have a beast of an immune system.  After he stopped bleeding, we sat down and I told him about all the accidents that had befallen various friends and relatives and we compared scars like Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. His dad wasn’t impressed that I’d made such a fuss. We all sat on the floor and ate, me still with the boys blood all over my hands. If I get through this alive my immune system will also merit scientific study…

Where was I? Oh yes, the martian landscape. I think it used to be a river/sea bed hundreds/thousands of years ago. Miles and miles of green low lying bumps.

After getting to the ger, the eldest son Echlot took us by horse to another sacred pile of stones on a hill to make a wish by walking three times around it. I made my wish whilst thinking of dad’s endless trips with a fistful of junk mail (sorry dad) competitions to the post box on Agnes Road. I made my wish and walked around the Bugdiin Ovoo three times. Used yet another holy site as a bathroom and we set off back.

It was my first time on a horse. It was f@#%ing brill. I want a Mongolian horse. I herded cattle on the way back…all I needed was some chewing t’bacco…  We went on and on and I could have ignored my burning arse forever cos I was having a whale of a time. With the ger once again in the distance I whipped the horse and shouted “chu, chu” to get a good long gallop all on my own.

Not a bad day at all.

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Bulgan province, day 1-2

Mr &  Mrs UnpronounceableMonday, 25th May.

Got here yesterday.

I’m sitting watching a big pan of goat’s milk (milked ten minutes ago) turn into a big frothy cloud on the stove in the middle of our ger (nomadic tent). The man of the family with the unpronounceable name  is fixing a mess of wires while his wife drinks her milk tea and watches the buzzing, black and white, overly loud satellite TV. The result of the Mongolian election is about to be announced.  We’re going out on the camels after they find out who’s won.

It was perfect.  I ended up sitting next to an eighty-year-old man and his ten-year-old son(or grandson, you never can tell here). They’d come over on their motorbike while we were sat on a small hill. We’d accompanied the wife so she could use her mobile in the only place on the steppe with a bit of coverage (she spent most of the call shouting “hello” in Mongolian and getting cut off). The sun was going down and the old bloke called me over to ask about my Ipod with the Mongolian music on it, (word get’s around very fast here, even when your nearest neighbour is about five miles away. He seemed disappointed when I said it was back in the ger, but he could come round any time and have a listen. All this said through hand gestures and drawings in the sand.

This morning we went by camel to a Buddhist monument/rocky mound 10Km north of the ger. I apologise to Buddha and all his loyal followers for the sneaky shit I had on the top of this very sacred monument. I couldn’t help  it, it may have had something to do with the several hundred gallons of milk and cream I’d been eating continuously since arriving the previous day. urum (boiled goats milk/cream), tarak (yoghurt), suutei tsai (salty milk tea), aaruul (dried curd)…

The little boy’s come to play again, I think he wants to play the game with the little sheep bones. He’s six and his name in Mongolian sounds exactly like “Bad Girls”  said with a lisp.

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One of two mongolian nutters...Ehyup.

I got back alright, I’ll write everything down later. But now I’ve got to arrange the next, bigger outing…

…and maybe buy some nice soft nappies…

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