Wednesday, August 8, 2012


so the next morning i did get picked up by sergy. sergy is a petite man from ukraine who runs a summer camp for kids with his wife, odna.odna is from mongolia. they have two boys. hakim and ohhantucsk.
sergy picked me up at eight sharp. we drove along roads littered with pot holes and dust. it took about an hour and a half to get to our destination, terelj national park. he talked the whole way there. i just kept nodding and smiling and trying to decipher when he was telling a joke, so i would know when to laugh.
'the mongol people, how they live. hard life, lots of babies. i don't know why so many'
i nod.
'the mongol goverment, how it function. they put president in jail, you know?'
i smile.
i didn't intervene. i photographed. 
as we got further into the national park i started to see more and more ger's.
some were in clumps or rows. those sergy explained were tourist camps. the ones that were out further and only one or two standing alone, those were the real deal. we pulled up to a fenced in area with about 18 gers in rows beside one another. each labeled with a number. sergy took me to 12. it was all mine. i set down my bag and sergy sniffed the air. was it me? then he turned and walked out the door. while walking away he said
'it smell, too much rain. we dry'
i followed him outside. the door leading into a ger is short, so most have to duck to get through. sergy is short, he didnt duck. i am new to the ins and outs of using a ger, and im not short. this combination left me with a sizable bump and scrap on my forehead. when i did make it outside without any injury, i saw a group of boys coming towards me with sergy behind them. the boys evenly distributeted themselves around my ger and started to lift up the bottom pieces of canvas and wool liners and were tucking them into rope holds. sergy explained that they do this in the day to air out the ger, and at night they put them back down to keep in the heat and keep out the creatures.
my dunking was less violent
the next couple days i spent with the kids. the campers range in age from 10-22. the older campers stuck to themselves. which meant i was buddy buddy with a slew of pre-teens. my favorite kid was a little girl named anungoo. you pronounce it like an-un-gaw. her father is the prime minister of mongolia. anungoo spoke english very well and she would come to find me each day and would practice her english.
they got teacher real good
all of my meals were taken care of. they revolved around rice, mutton and milk. breakfasts were a variation of the same thing. rice in a bowl full of hot sweetened milk, rice in a bowl full of hot milk and hot goat broth, or rice and unsweetened cold milk. needless to say my lactose issues took a hit.
on my last day there two local men who help run the camp, killed a goat. one of the boys came running to get me. 'teacher teacher!!! they have whole goat today!'
scraping off the stomach gunk
he knew i would love to see what was happening, because yesterday they prepped three goat heads, and he was with me the whole time i watched, to translate for the men dealing with the heads and me. when we got up to the goat prep station...aka in concrete stairs in front of the kitchen, i saw the process in all its glory.
the men had already skinned it, and were now folding up the skin, and taking the legs and ribs into the kitchen. i stayed with my mini-translator and watched as about four women dealt with all of the innards. they showed me how to dump the contents of the stomach and intestines, how to scrape off the stomach lining, and what parts are good to stuff in the intestines for sausage.
bottom right...bucket of blood
that night odna told me about a closing ceremonies type thing for the kids. she asked me to host it. my hosting duties consisted of greeting them and then handing out medals and certificates to the kids. odna would have liked to have me read off each students name, but we quickly came to realize that no one would understand me as i tried to sound out the names. i was fine with the three russian campers. julia, christina, and anya. but when it got down to anungoo, oronbaatar and zozozaya...i would struggle.
and that was it. my brief stint as an english teacher was over. and early the next morning i crammed into an old school station wagon with a couple other of the mongolian teachers, and a driver who must fancy himself an indie 500 hopeful, and we headed back to UB.
when i got back to my hostel in UB i met up with three girls and a guy who were here for the mongol derby. now i have heard of the mongol rally before but not the derby.
torchin' up some heads
my ger
the rally consists of people buying shitty run down, or silly vehicles (we met guys from sweden that did the rally in an ambulance) and then driving them in a race from england to mongolia. the mongol derby is organzied by the same people. it consists of a race around central mongolia by horse. they are basically on the horse for 14hours a day. they have check points every 40km, where they swap horses, grab food and continue. there are penalties for bringing your horse into a checkpoint dehydrated or out of breath. last year the winner did it in 9 days. and this year they are predicting 8. but most people do it in about 10 days. this year there are only 35 people doing it. and on average 2 of those 30 dont even make it past the practice sessions on the two days prior to the race. you can follow their progress at
one of my students and odna's youngest son, hakim
my friends in the race are:
aimee from england
charlotte from england
linda from norway
and christoffer from sweden.
they left for the first practice day on the same morning i left for the gobi. we even timed it out so that i can meet them at the hostel on the 20th when they return from the race. they all booked rooms at the ramada for that night. to treat themselves post race. and im going to tag along!
mongol derby friends and me
so we said our goodbyes and i headed for the bus station. i was the only non-mongolian on the bus. it took fifteen hours, four squat outhouses, one questionable truck stop meal, two quick-fix breakdowns, and two snickers bars.
we pulled up to the bus station at around 1130. everyone but me seemed to have a ride come and get them. the bus station seemed like it was onthe edge of town, so i put on my pack and headed into what looked like an open field. as i got closer it didnt look so much like a field. more like a construction yard. i had to balance myself across a ditch with huge pipes laid inside. then i found some large dirt and rock piles. i found a flat spot in front of one of the piles and set up my tent. i was cozy in my sleeping bag by midnight.
first sunrise in the gobi
this morning i woke early with the sun. packed up my gear and headed in town. with the help of a local girl i found the somewhere to use a computer. it is in a bank/apartment/internet building. i started to google about people walking from here to yolyn am, but so far haven't found anything concrete. all i've got is 'pick a direction and just walk'...for hours. so i think that's what i'm going to do. either this afternoon or tomorrow morning.
ill post again from here in a couple days.

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