Wednesday, August 1, 2012

first twenty-four in UB

i caught the train in beijing. no problem.
it was an almost sad night, saying goodbye to all the friends id made at the hostel.
at first i was kind of regretting staying at the hostel instead of cs'ing. but the people i met were beyond amazing. i have made friends from so many places! it was a weird feeling leaving beijing and the people i met there. they were my travel friends.they were all solo travelers. but they were all leaving too. soime where going home after a year of travel, some had school, some were continuing on to a new country. so i guess it was time.
the train left at 8am and got into mongolia 30hours later. i bought the cheapest ticket possible. the hard sleeper. it was a cabin with four beds in it. there was only me and one other guy in my cabin. his name is mike. mike is 25, from southern california, greek and an artist. we befriended lots of other twenty-something travelers on the journey north to ulanbaatar.
even at the six hour border crossing there was a group of eight of us that left immigration and went out into the town to find a restaurant for a last meal of chinese food and beer before crossing the border.
when i arrived in UB (ulaanbaatar, capital of mongolia) i was greeted by a gorgeous mongolian woman with a sign that had my name on it. i felt super awesome. everyone else was trying to arrange taxis and i had a sign lady. i was one of those people who you see walking into a town car at the airport, while you have to go wait at baggage claim for your mom and dad. well not today! but instead of a town car we squished into a really old grey mercedes with grey suede seats that had the louis vuitton LV symbol embossed all over the suede seats. it was really weird. there was our driver, a large mongolian man who spoke perfect english and in the passenger seat there was another big guy who i later learned is named kenny. he has been in mongolia for over three months. he got here and bought a motorcycle for 950$ and rode it all around the country. and the hostel here kind of adopted him, he helps them out, they help him out. kenny is from georgia state. and in the back of the car was my sign lady, me and a dutch couple on their honeymoon. oh and the car was also blasting 90's rap.
when we got to the hostel i took off my shoes at the entrance, as per the neon orange signs request. then i waited in the lobby before i got given the grand tour.
"we have four bathroom. this one the toilet is broken, this one cold water. this one is the only one that gets hot water...and only between 2 and 4 pm, and NO wifi between 11pm and 7am, breakfast over at 9am"
i was shown my room. a six person dorm. i chucked down my bag and headed to the closest atm.
mongolian money is insane. i took out 450,000$!!!! which is about 300 canadian. this makes for ordering food confusing.
'id like one panini and a sprite'
'6000 dollars please'
tonight i met up with five other guys from the train ride. thanks to my handy traveler cards...NOT  business cards. i gave them out when we parted ways on the train and a few hours later i had heard from two of the guys to see if i wanted to meet up for dinner. so a couple hours later i met with an australian, malaysian, czech, american, and a brit for dinner. we pointed to four things on the menu and hoped for the best. it worked out and dinner was amazing! it also didnt hurt that it worked out to about four dollars a person.
after dinner i parted ways with them. i wanted to head back to the hostel to meet up with the dutch couple and see if they had figured out a tour to go on. i was interested in the same. maybe a three day tour before heading north west to camp for a week or so. when i got back to the hostel i was coming up the stairs to the front door and i heard
'hey canada, wanna go teach english in the national park for a couple days?'
'uh i darn tootin' do!'
it was kenny. he had done it for a month a little while ago and loved it. after i said yes, he got on his phone and called sergy. sergy is a little russian man, who appeared at the hostel twenty minutes later. i met him, we shook hands.
'what time i pick you up?'
'in the morning?'
'yes. eight'
'well alright then, ill see you at eight'
'bye. eight sharp i here'
and that was it. that is all i know. kenny hinted at the fact that there was food provided and maybe sleeping in my own ger. but other than that i know nothing. i dont even know for sure what date im coming back. i dont know what ages the kids are...or even if they are kids, i dont know if there is a shower, if i need to bring money, what park it is in etc. im putting all my faith in this kenny character.
so im off to bed now, and in the morning a little russian man is driving me somewhere, to apparently teach english to someone...
fingers crossed!

*fun mongolian fact. its mongolian law that drinking and selling liquor is illegal on the 1st of every month. i arrived on august first. the guys were not impressed!

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