Tuesday, August 14, 2012

back in UB

well i did it.
i went to the gobi and survived.
mind you i did it quicker than previously thought. why you ask. cause its a freakin' desert! it was hotter than i ever could have imagined. i don't know how i worked it out that me, a hearty canadian girl could go by herself to the desert in the summer and camp...for a week. HA!
silly emily anne. you're not a camel.
no, i am not a camel. which is why after my first 24 in the desert i made my way back to the dusty southern gobi town of dalanzadgad and booked a bus ticket back to UB. where wind blows a cool breeze, not just more heat and sand. where you can find a cold beer around every corner, although to be honest i usually opt for a popsicle. and where there is often aircon at night time. and i get to cuddle up in a big duvet in order to fall asleep. i don't care if that doesn't make me worldly...i like to fall asleep wrapped in blankets in a room that is chilly! there i said it.
waiting for the bank/internet/apartment building to open
picked a direction and started walking
so after i wrote the last post from the apartment/bank/internet building i swung on my bag and wandered around the town looking for a place to stay that night. the first place i went in was a concrete square box on the edge of town. it was painted a fading baby blue color and had big block letters spelling out hotel across the top. i pulled open the large creeky wooden door and walked in to a dimly lit reception area. which was empty. when i walked in past the entry way a short plump little lady came in.
'yeah nik'
then she motioned for me to follow her.
nik is the number one. thanks to the english camp kids, i now know how to count to ten in mongolian!
we went up a flight of stairs and she led me into a tiny room with four beds. each bed but one was obviously occupied. i noted this by the clothing strewn about the floor and the unmade beds. i shook my head.
she walked me down the hall to another four bed room. this time when she opened the door and i peaked inside and saw a toddler passed out on one of the beds. the old lady shouted something, i assumed not at the toddler, or me...but i wasn't sure. seconds later i heard footsteps coming up the stairs and a man rushed into the room scooped up the little girl and ran away. she turned to me and smiled, as if she had answered my wishes. she was a genie.
'how much?'
she whipped out her cell phone and produced a laughable number on the tiny nokia dial pad. i shook my head and typed back half. she laughed and waved goodbye at me.
this i took as a sign, and as the advice i found online suggested, i picked a direction and started walking.
big camp sites

about three or four hours later i picked a spot. i laughed when i remembered what my lonely planet guide said.
'there is lots of opportunity for camping around dalanzadgad. just walk a couple km in any directions and pick somewhere secluded'
secluded HA! it is the desert. the best i hoped for was to set up camp within walking distance of a shrub that was taller than the rest, to act as my bathroom privacy. i spent two nights here before heading back into town and booking the first ticket out of the scorching inferno.
my bus arrived at 8 in the morning. i stood by the driver as he loaded the bags and boxes into the boot.
'do you want to put this back there, or have me take it on the bus?'
for a brief second the driver looked at me as if i had sneezed, before continuing on with loading the boxes. as if i didn't say anything. the man standing beside the driver however shouted into the crowd of people waiting to board the bus, then he looked back at me and smiled. soon a woman was standing by my side.
'can i help?'
transport back to UB
pee break
and she sure did! it was the mans wife. they were on their way back to UB with their daughter. the mom works for world vision in mongolian and dealt with a lot of canadians, which is where she perfected her english. over the 16 hour bus ride back the mom took me under her wing. she told me what seat was mine on the bus, she woke me up at rest stops, she held a jacket around my bright white butt when we took pee breaks in the open nothingness of the gobi, she translated the lunch menu for me, and she even asked a local to drive me to my hostel when we arrived back in UB, so i didn't have to pay for a cab. she was my desert angel. and along the bumpy drive back i watched her and her husband and daughter. the daughter was their only child. she had just graduated high school. the mom and dad rotated seats every few hours to sit beside the daughter. when they switched, the daughter would curl up into a ball and rest her head on her mom or dads lap and the mom or dad would pull her in close over every big bump and jolt of the bus. i stared at them. it reminded me of my mom and dad. and how they would do the same thing. i got teary eyed as the mom put a jacket over the napping daughter, and when she handed the dad another cucumber sandwich and he kissed her hand as she gave it to him. that family trip gave me my first tinge of homesickness. i put my headphones on and played  michael buble's home and made the situation ten times worse.
local woman selling goat milk and other dairy products
i am now back in UB. yesterday i booked a flight to beijing for the 21st. i will head there to attempt to get my pakistan visa. if i don't succeed i will still head into western china and then figure out something from there.

*fun mongolian fact. they drink aloe juice here. it is like sweet water with chunks of aloe plant in it. it was weird to adjust to at first...since it felt like i was drinking huge chunks of backwash. but once you get over the vomit worthy texture issue, it is amazing!



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