You might think that my boredom here at the ol’ ger camp is of my own failing. You would be wrong.
“I would like to go on a day long camel ride.” I told the ger manager.
“Not possible!” She admonished, as if this dumb request was asked so often one might think it was advertised on their website.
Note: In this multipart series we take the adventure back into the wilds of Mongolia. Make sure you read them in order so you can appreciate the story properly.
I had the weirdest, little, nagging worry that booking a week in the Mongolian steppes at an adventure lodge might turn out to be boring.
Boy have I been vindicated.
“Bring back the post rally slump. Bring back the post rally slump.”
That’s what crossed my mind as I was piloted through the streets by Pham, my young AirBnB host. I attempted to look calm and composed on the back of the scooter as we pulled into multiple lanes of oncoming traffic.
I would like to apologize for the spelling and grammar in some of my previous posts. In a rush to get them up, I didn’t proofread them. Later, reading them back to Shane and Roberta, I hung my head in shame.
The Android autocorrect is an interesting beast. It has a limited vocabulary, not recognizing dirty words. ‘Piss’ and ‘pee’ are out of its dictionary. However, it corrects ‘damn’ into ‘damnable’. This amuses me to no end, and may influence how I use the term. ‘Damnable’ does sound cooler.
Teams had been rolling into UB for the past several weeks. Mr. Rob, founder of the rally, looked weary of the hotel lobby that he had spent so much time in, listening to the same slow jam versions of already slow rock songs that used to (perhaps still does) plague the office workers at G5. Few people listen to ‘Imagine’ and think, “You know what this song needs? To be slowed down by a large factor and played just on a piano without vocals.” Few think it, but the ones who act on that thought should be shot.
Anyway, music notwithstanding, the lobby of the four-star Chinggis Khan hotel was packed with excitement. Dirt bag adventurers rolled in from the steppe, parking their cars in the VIP slots (which, actually, were reserved for rally cars). Just a few steps away, Mongolian wedding parties, shuffled in and out of the hotel. The backgrounds of their wedding photos will likely be cluttered with broken down Fiat Puntos, piles of used camping gear, and unwashed ralliers.
I don’t spend a lot of time blogging out in the Mongolian plains. Most times you will find me grasping my tent and leaning back against the harsh Mongolian winds, trying to keep us both on the ground. At other times you will find me in my tent, iPad at the ready to write a blog only to feel my air mattress deflate plopping me onto the rocky ground. But mostly, you will find me gazing into the distance at a country we have reached after six weeks of hard driving, a year of planning, and a lifetime of yearning. Continue reading
We had spent the last night in a hotel in a city beginning with ‘B’. A lot of southern Mongolian cities do. But this one was a capital city. Bayankonger or something. Perhaps.
In any case. It was a scant six hundred kilometers away from UB and the finish line. We had heard tell that the roads were paved and the driving decent. Of course, after the paved Atyrau to Aktobe hell road in Western Kaz, we knew better than to trust pavement.
We have traversed a third of the globe, armed only by a dozen CDs. This is the type of feat that would drive weaker men to insanity. Luckily, we have had a wide variety of music to ease the kilometers between London and Ulaanbaatar. Some notable donors, including Roberta’s dad and Keenan, have helped entertain us.
So, with our impending arrival in Mongolia’s capital city, it is our delight to announce the best and worst CDs of our journey.
Word spreads fast on the rally. Rumors abound. Teams leave cryptic Facebook posts. Information and misinformation run rampant, and are hard to differentiate.
But, one thing was for sure: 18 teams were waiting at the Mongolian border. Some had been there for three days.
So, before approaching the border, team Gobi or Go Home stocked themselves up. We prepared mentally and physically for the wait in no man’s land. We purchased water and food. We made sure croquet was strapped to the top of the car. I had been in a Siberian market for no more than five minutes before I had half a case of wine in my basket.
If we were going to be stuck, we would be stuck in style.
Well, it is about 4am in the frigid Mongolian morning and I have attained full adventure. I woke to the sound of my greatest fear, my own stomach gurgling and bubbling with reckless abandon.
Oh please no, I begged the Bowel Gods. Have mercy.