Think we are clearly headed for trouble. The slow passage of time is starting to rot our puritan core, the ticking clock in our cranium seems to announce with great pleasure each second as it slides over the thresh hold. And yet, we sit still longer. Reading, talking, and then reading again…..haven,t we alreadt talked about that 3 times I ask Pine…….yes, he replies, so do you think we should just read more?
Nope, lets go for a walk just to see what we can see, we need to be out of this yurt and stretch our legs. Off we go, armed with a couple thousand Tugrik, we head out with narry a clue as to where, what or why. First stop is some Plum Ice Tea which has become our favorite among the many teas they have. On another note, I think China has even more flavours to offer.
We are keeping our eyes peeled for a Post Office as we have some items to post home. Pretty rough, the buildings, the streets, and the mostly nonexistant qsidewalks. The cobbled together sign reads BAKERY, that gets us, and we head in. That fresh bread arome bowls us over at the door as we push thru and enter the tiny area where sales take place. The selection is spartan to be sure, but enough to cause saliva to flow for sure. We commiserate for a moment, and decide on a 14 inch sorta flat, round loaf of a beautiful golden hue. We also choose a bag of somethings, that look maybe a little more desertish in nature. Head out, proudly carrying our cache of soughtafter bakery goods. We find a place to park our hinnies on some broken cement blocks, then commence enjoying our bread. Pine does the honors and tears of a section of the loaf passing the first piece to me……while I am biting, he is ripping off a piece for himself…….and watching me at the same time. I guess we both expected elation, something akin to orgasmic maybe. But facial expressions belie my enthusiasim, as he asked right away……should I bother eating this?
Honestly, I do not know how you couldcreate bread any drier than what it was. It was so dry it basically sucked any moisture available right out of your mouth..you were left with nothing available to swallow with. Its an official Mongolian baking mystery to us. The loaf in question, did not feel stale in the hand, on the contrary, it even had a degree of sponge to it. Yet once bitten, it was all you could do to get the rascle swallowed. As it stands, we both ate the pieces that we took, just so we could prove our manhood and later compare notes about the bread. We both felt as if it where a real challenge to get the bread eaten……..so, if you were given a time limit on how long you had to eat it, surely then this could be made an event at one of those “Tuff-Mudder” contests
We simply threw that loaf at the first scurvy starving dog we seen……….thwack, I turned in anger as Ifelt something hit me in the back of the head. I was stunned, and ready to fight all at the same instant. It took a few moments to register, that indeed that danged dog had thrown it right back at me. I could hardly blame the dog, he was just obeying the darwinnian laws of nature that assure his survival…….never eat fresh mongolian bakery product.
We make our way down streets, thru back alleys into what the locals call the Bizarre area of the city. It is dirt walkways, with hugepothills that turn into swimming pools should it rain. Which for the lsst 3 days, indeed it has. A lost cow, wanders aimlessly thru the market, stopping and licking or sniffing as she pleases. Dogs, while behaved, are every where. Sleeping in the shade of acrumbling brick wall, walking in among people, generally being where ever they choose to be. People scurry by on foot, some roll thru on motorcycles till the tiny alleys just get to narrow for passage. The market is a collection of old metal containers whose doors are thrown open to become a store, the body off a small bus becomes a restaurant seating maybe 4 people. The containers give way to cardboard and plywood shacks at some invisible line, and what begins as 4 person wide walk ways eventually turns into, just single sideways person passage. It runs the gam ut, vendors sellingbrokenbags of Portland cement, while next door to that is a fruit seller, stalls with plumbing supplies, general hardware…..and a 2 chair beauty salon stuck right in between.It is truly bizarre at the Bazarre. We truly got lost in the Bazarre, its a labrynth of alleys and passage ways……..whow, what is this sudden expanse of sky and air.
We walk out into a more or less uncongested open air courtyard within the heart of the Bazarre. This sort of courtyard is walled with old adobe and or the back ends of shipping containers, but it is a central open area. Old tarps and feedsacks hacebeen used to build awnings over dozens of old heavy “dead level and very good felt” pool tables. Its awesome, we knew that alot of pool was played here, since we see poolhalls everywhere, and single pool tables sitting out in the blazing sun in many places. This was a all ages congress of players in front of us. From just knee high to as much as late 70,s we decide to join in, andare made very welcome. They play a little different game here. Each table has a deck of cards, you shuffle and deal out 12 to each player. You job is to then sink the balls from lowest to highest as I understand it. Within just moments we had a dozen game faced individuals standing by giving advice. They would survey the balls, lick there finger and make a damp mark on the felt exactly at the spot you should make contact inorder to make the shot. Al in all we had great fun, and the Mongols could not believe how bad a shot we were. I really think they felt sorry for us. $500.00 Tugrik per game
We are only eating one meal a day out, so today we had dinner at the Kazak Restaurant. At best it is fair eats, only 2 things on the menu, so how do yuo really rate it. Its iether noodles and flame fried mutton wth spices, or its rice with chunks of boiled goat backbone. It was a little spicy, so that was a worthwhile break. Last nite we bought some bread which we sliced, a a huge sausage of horsemeat. Cut strips of sausage which we fried and slathered with mustard on our bread and ate like kings. Thats just what ya do when stuck in Olgii.