Camp 2 – Middle Gobi, Mandalgovi

Continued on from last post, I am now writing from the only hotel available to us in the capital town that is Middle Gobi Desert. We contemplated going on to camp but as its a further hundred kilometers from here the plan was to stop off again at a market and pick up those little things we realize we need from our first night out yesterday.

The drive out here was through an exceptional landscape of rocky outcros, sand dunes, winter ger camps and camels. We spotted a small herd of gazelle grazing in the distance. Many horses and goat herds.

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There is a sense I need to write quickly for tomorrow I will once more be away from wifi and computer battery points.

On arrival in the town we decided we would perhaps stay the night because a shower would be a good thing too and we could regroup tomorrow.

Firstly, the town is like a large outskirts of UB with many ger camps and rickety fences on way into town. I forgot to mention the first class bitchumen highway we linked up with and rode into town. Once the bichumen met the local road it stopped and for a kilometer into town the road was broken into lumps of concrete… Surely the new road could have resurfaced all the way into town.

The first hotel we stopped at a man came to our car and said it was closed. Only the new 4×4 vehicles n the drive gave away it was used by a political party. The cars were carrying political posters. Same story in every hotel. Until we found this small one.

I have no idea what the name is or that it even was a hotel but Tugsoo and Unench recognized it as one. Tugsoo went inside to negotiate beds for the night and soon reappeared to say that there was a small room with two beds only; we could do same as last night and share room and boys sleep on the floor. There is nothing else so agreed, and anyway it is cheaper than yesterday’s ger… And there would be a Beth or shower we can use. She also added a man would fix the plumbing, there is a toilet with our room.

Ok, set for the night we decided to look around for perhaps a better hotel and find the market. Nothing appeared so made our way back to the booked room. Unench was having some difficulty depositing the gear stick out of 4×4. While he and Mervyn stood in the car park reading the car manual, well, Unench read because it was written in Mongol they noticed just cams from the front tire a steel reinforcing rod sticking out of the ground ready to pierce the wheel. So Unench moved the car back a but to avoid the rod.

A little while later a small white car with two men inside attempted to turn into the space between Unench and the car parked next to us. He nudged the tow bar. Twice in two day!! I was standing with Mervyn by now and we shouted and indicated to the man to reverse. He looked at us with glazed eyes and pushed forward more, nudging the tail bar almost completely off. Now the tail bar was hanging from the side. The men In the car were clearly vodka affected. They gave a peace sign and didt seem to know what to do. Several people were watching. The man managed to just miss another vehicle as he reversed back into the road and tried to move into another car park. He obviously wanted to come into this hotel.

By now several people including the hotel staff had gathered and the police were called. We took down the number plate. No one seemed to be interested in swapping names and addresses or anything.

Eventually the local police arrived and by now quite a crowd had gathered around. I took some photographs with the canon camera and was told to stop taking them.

Mervyn and retired to sit in the car while the Morgan’s sorted out the problem, clearly we were just in the way, though we were the main witnesses. After theodicy took to the measuring of the car park with a long tape it appeared as if this was about to become a major event.

After further discussions and the arrival of the chief policeman arrived the who scenario moved to the police station.

The poor culprit was still standing around looking rather bewildered. Forgot to mention he had also left the scene and taken us drunk colleague away and returned to the car park where a man from the hotel reached into his car and removed the keys. He continued to deny touching Unench’s car.

The police drove his car to the police station and impounded it into a locked yard. We were told to say in the car while Unench and Tugsoo went into the police station.

The outcome is that the man would loose s license and spend the day in the cell. I understand it is immediate loss of license if caught drinking under the influence of alcohol.

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Then they announced they would take the car to the repair shop and have it repaired immediately. We are to stay in the hotel. That seemed ok, though Mervyn offered to go and et Tugsoo have a rest but she wanted to go. That left Mervyn and I to have shower and relax and wait till they came back.

We carried bags upstairs to our small room. Tiny room really. There was a man with his head inside the ensure fixing the loo who didn’t seem to mind us in the room. Ok so far. Until we asked if there was shower or bathroom somewhere. No. Not. Hmm. No shower, no bath. I took out my Mongolian language book and pointed to bath and shower. He seemed pretty sure the answer was still no. Ok then, it’s a wash in the hand basin. We could consider ourselves lucky to have a loo and a wash basin as we are in the middle of the Gobi desert. Get it into perspective, just because there is bichumen ans brick walls… The water of course is cold. And we are laughing because still because this is Mongolia. What a thrill for us to be here in the middle of the Gobi, a place of so many unrealized dreams. What to complain about, I am sitting on the bench that is called a bed, I have electricity, glass between me and the cold wind and wet carpet on the floor. Life is pretty good. We await the next chapter…

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