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Report - Mongolia Day 3/4 (lots of words)

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by dsankt, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. dsankt

    dsankt si ce que tu dis est vrai
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    Disclaimer: This is not urban and contains more than we-did-then-we-did-then-we-did... If the quantity of words causes distress let the pretty pictures soothe your troubles.



    "Is your solution to the rain, going back to sleep?" qx asked.
    "Yes." I replied and rolled over.

    Mother nature and I are old fucken friends, real good friends. Our plan was to cycle towards the Gobi desert. Sand dunes, blazing sun, sand worms, tumbleweeds, no water, desert. What kind of backwards-ass desert has fucking rain? We peeked out the tent and found to our surprise, sleet. My brain wasn't ready to process this yet.

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    pic: qx

    At 12, bored of dozing and listening to the tent being battered around by the wind quantum-x and I considered the best strategy one can conceive in a situation such as this, and took it to heart. Harden The Fuck Up. The lightweight arcteryx softshell might repel metro volts but it's mere ricepaper against pouring mongolian rain. So, in less than 10 minutes on the bikes we'd soaked right through, but the road was rolling away below us and Choir was getting closer. Perhaps the gods cursed us for riding bikes instead of wild mongolian mares?

    With a hellish crosswind and long rolling hills our spirits took as much a battering as our bodies, day three was quickly dubbed the worst so far. I dropped my head, blasted the fastest punk I could find on the mp3 player, zoned out and cranked on. This fucking sucked, why didn't we jump the bus to Choir again? After an indeterminable amount of time we came upon a small roadside shop selling basic commodities and wares. A weathered Mongol couple took one look at our bikes, us, our bikes, then us again and motioned us into their home. Beside a simple cast iron woodstove we peeled off our layers and draped them to dry. Our extremities roasted and the couple launched into food preparation. They handed us mutton ribs from which we rended every morsel of meat like starving dogs, and began on homemade noodles in mutton broth. We both found this level of compassion uncomfortable but wet and haggard we couldn't argue.

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    Their tiny room was sparsely furnished, adorned with old beer posters and images of western swimsuit models. A battery powered television played a black and white vietnamese kungfu movie. I didn't even know they existed. Family is massively important to the Mongolians and the couple proudly offered a collection of family photos to us, then put the stack of 6x4s aside and motioned if we had any of our own. With weak smiles we pulled out two 1ds cameras, at original price of MNT ~27,000,000.00 with lenses, a staggering amount to be flashing around. We showed them some photos of our trip and quickly backpacked our gear. I felt like a proper bellend as I sat there wolfing down the simple but delicious noodles.

    Warm, well fed and with spirits improved we remounted our metal steeds, gave the couple whatever we could to thank them and pedaled into the rain once again. Over food we'd discussed that nothing could be lost by attempting to hitchhike, everyone had been so friendly and welcoming we hardly expected to end up in the Belanglo. Then again, who does? We hailed with enthusiasm over the next 5km but two geezers with bikes and backpacks aren't the easiest to accommodate so there was little expectation on our part. Most rolled on by without a pause, others slowed to wave and give the thumbs up. It wasn't a ride but it all helps. We motioned with vigour at an empty pickup truck but he to sped away over the crest of the hill. He had been our best chance so far. A few minutes later we reached the hilltop to find the trucker pulled over, leaning against the side taking a long draw from his cigarette. Instawin. In exchange for the 20km he gestured he could take us we handed out a full pack of cigarettes, our last Mars bar and half a bag of candy. Hardly a King's ransom I know.

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    Our ride dropped us near a random village he was visiting and since we were now ahead of the clouds we took the chance to reorganise our gear hastily packed back in the storm and considered that day three, despite the start was certainly on the up. 15 minutes later the trucker came back, gestured we should reload our bikes and to be fair we needed little to no convincing. With difficulty we discerned we'd been invited to his sister's house in the village and she was intent on feeding us dumplings. The Mongolians are feeders, no complaints there. With a few more charades and a lot of diagrams of ongots (planes) they understood we were destined for the soviet airbase at Choir and like the benevolent hand gestures of a mute god it was told to us that we could hitch the entire way. Boofuckingyah. His last piece of advice was to camp in town and not at the base, which for better or oh so much worse, we immediately ignored.

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    pic: qx

    Behind the large cluster of buildings which made up the old living areas of the base we could see the mound-hangers similar to what we'd encountered at Base 3. Since it was late in the day, our logic was to camp behind the base then approach in the morning. Contrary to what we expected this old soviet airbase was far from abandoned, in fact we could see plenty of people milling around. In rural mongolia these places are valuable permanent dwellings, the 'abandoned' airbase wasn't even remotely so. We concluded that sure the locals might tell us to fuck off, but at least in daylight the following day we'd get to see it better. This plan lasted all of 5 minutes, when two men on a motorbike rode out the back gate and directly towards us. Things were about to get interesting.

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    They were both weathered and surly, the first mid twenties, the second much older wearing the traditional mongolian garb plus a cowboy hat. On closer examination I think he might have been drunk. Prepared for this we whipped out the last pack of cigarettes plus a world map and started the charade game. From suspicious to confused to giant smiles it never fails and before we could say no I was on the motorbike going back to their yort for dinner, the drunk guy was on my bike pedaling furiously in the lowest gear possible and qx was laughing all the way into the base. I'm not conceited enough to think this was the first time many of these people had seen a foreigner before but the way everyone looked at me riding into town on the back of a motor bike, and the way the kids gave chase I can only conclude the mongolians love guests. They fucking LOVE 'EM. In fact they loved us enough to put qx and I onto the motorbike and go straight to the liquor store.

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    What liquor store you ask? To be fair it's not just a liquor store, it's a fucking convenience store, and convenient it surely is... if you happen to be inhabiting an "abandoned" soviet military base in the middle of goddamn Mongolia. To be honest, it was a little surprising. We crashed the motorbike on route to the shops, attempting to ride through giant puddles of water. When the guidebook says Mongols are fearless and crazy you'd do well to heed every word. If it also mentions they like their vodka (Chinngis brand naturally) believe that to, because it seemed that WE were buying. I did my best to keep things civilised, I selected the smallest bottle of vodka from the assortment presented, turning around to find oh no, no, no. Our hosts gesticulated that clearly only 2 large bottles of CHINGGIS GOLD would do, the label showing Chinggis Khan himself looking malevolent. That alone should have been a clue.

    Stuffed full of more dumplings (third time for the day!), noodles and tea the local men descended upon the yort for what the Mongols consider a party. In Australia people make a pretense of music, girls etc etc... our party was a dozen guys sitting in a circle pouring shot after shot after shot of vodka. Somewhere in the mix a geezer arrived with 4 liters of beer and it was obvious from here things could not improve.

    The mongols take their drinking very seriously, the proper etiquette before taking a shot is to dip in your ring finger and flick three drops to the sky, to the four winds. Somewhere in that hazy period before the vodka ran out but after the beer was started some secret mongol signal was passed unawares to us, and they all burst into brutal song, fists clenched and voices loud and proud inside the yort. With the last note they turned to us. This was a showdown, and we had to throwdown. Two rugged australians versus 10 charged mongol warriors. Like true lil aussie battlers we did what one must in these situations and launched full swing into a glorious rendition of Walzting Matilda with the full ocker accent.

    [​IMG]
    pic: qx
     

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  2. dsankt

    dsankt si ce que tu dis est vrai
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    They just stared unimpressed. Banjo Paterson's magic verses, delivered so skillfully had the heart but didn't have the legs to pull us through. What else could we do, what other australian songs did we know? We couldn't turn back from the challenge we'd committed to. Then we did what I loathe to publicly admit. That song sung by thousands of primary school kids every Friday morning. The song that every australian knows. Apologies to the diggers, the battlers, the families, olympians standing upon the podium, everyone. We're no patriots but our pride was on the line and this was all or nothing. With a deep resonant pitch we launched into the devastation that is Advance Australia Fair. The yort trembled, the Mongols reared back, the wild horses outside the yort fled. By the end of the first verse our hosts were awestruck, defeated. They might have outdrank us, but we absolutely annihilated them in the vocal round. With those final words still lingering in the air we both passed out.

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    Our sleep was far from peaceful. We were shaken roughly awake by our hosts and force fed more vodka. Just let us die goddammit. Later that night qx woke to rough grunts and whimpering, the couple sleeping beside me were drunkenly making little mongols. Hopefully not in our honour and please god not named after us. Rain, hitchhiking, dumplings, mutton ribs, chinngis, soviet airbases, mongolian 7-11s, patriotic verse and of course baby making. Easily the best day so far.
     
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