Jeremiah Watt Cycling around God's Creation

long distance bicycle touring

Posts tagged ‘Pine’

Blog25-So long Pine and adios Bucharest

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At this moment, Iam probably the most dejected and forlorn fellow in all Bucharest. It was so long Pine on Friday morning 6am, he flew out for USA via Warsaw,Chicago and Los Angeles. Pine, was my best friend,my best advisor, my business sounding board, my executive director, my language app, my IT go to guy, and my son, all wrapped into one fuzz topped 6 foot 1 package. Pine, I cant say it loud enough, thankyou so much for riding with me, you made the miserable sections fun, and the fun sections evenmore so -THANKS SO MUCH!. More than that I got to see Pine the man come out, as a father we always see our sons as kids still. But a trip like this allows all aspects of a persons character to be revealed, your a great kid and I love you for all you provided on this journey. We knew this day was coming, and I dont think it caught anyone off guard and yet it wasnt a welcomed day iether. With Pine on the plane I set off to run some errands before I said adios Bucharest. All by myself, headed south by south west…….at least I think thats the direction I want to go……darn this phone, maybe I didn’t shake it enough. I should tell you that we enjoyed the city, went down to the Old Quarters and really enjoyed the narrow cobbled streets. Had one of the best dinners we have had so far at a Romanian Restaurant we found…….right next to Gelato shop…….ain’t that just convienient.

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My Pastor and friend, Mike, will be dissappointed in me as I was not able to make my Christian Outreach episode come to life while in Bucharest. Since I felt that Christ had spared my life just a week or so ago, I felt this was a sign of what Christ was wanting me to do since that is what I had been Praying about. But, my other Pastor friend whom we met out in front of Voronets, had been sent an email telling him we were on the nunt for an Christian outreach ministtry…..but he was kayaking in Sweden so no answer there. And we have a lady friend in Bucharest who runs an NGO Christian Ministry and both of her numbers resulted in no answers. So, I take away this, that God did not want me in Bucharest he wants me someplace else. Maybe thats over in Serbia, Croatia or Bosnia as they come next. I am willing to accept names and contacts in these countries if anyone knows people involved in this sort of Christian mission field.

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I did not roll away from the hotel Ibis till noon. Not because I got up so late. Rather it was my waiting on a no show UPS package (NO Christmas cookies for my UPS man Tim back in USA, since these UPS guys are Ll union and attached at the hip I think the pain should be spread universally. When one falls short they all should feel the pain) i was waiting on a new unit from Goal Zero. A nomad 50 battery pack and the larger panels so that I could have tablet power. Now we have to stop at bars and plug in foran hour or more thru the day to power back up. I have measured carefully and it takes 17.75 bottles of beer to pass one Romanian Hour. I think there are far fewer bottles of beer per hour in USA because you have to get up to pee six times in an hour. Put in 85kilometers today and are out in Alexadria region of southern Romania. Gently rolling farm ground. Nothing special but nothing terrible iether. Just watch the traffic and pedal. For supper tonight I had sausages and a new concoction……hot mustard and blue berry jam. Strait out of Cow Camp Cooking, page 98. It follows right on behind the recipe for rubbing par boiled potatoes on a salt lick to add that OutBackesque flavor. That page is one of my familys favorites.

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What tomorrow brings I do not know. But after it happens I will surely tell you if it was any fun at all. Tomorrow has arrived and I am sitting in a pine forest in Bulgaria about 39 miles over the river from Romania. I crossed the mighty Danube river on a ferry, along with 2 other cyclists. Thay are both Doctors of Enderology (thing bung holes and such ). Nice folks doing 2 weeks along the Danube. As I sit here typing and swatting mozzies, its  8.30pm, and 9 huge Klass combines just rolled past in a convoy, surprised to see that sort of equipment here. Had a great supper, finally got the nerve to fry a pork chop, turned out just fine, followed by a cup of Earl Grey and we are done.

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I have managed to stay on roads mar,ed in white, which are little wee rascals. This is wo derful for traffic concerns, but leaves much to be desired when it comes to dogs, got chased 3 times by dogs that meant business. No bites, just frayed nerves. The country here is big rolling ridges, reminds me of parts of Moldova in some ways, except these climbs are just longer with a few more curves to make it all more interesting. The villages that one passes thru are not as well off income wise as most of Romania, its pretty evident looking at houses and vehichles. One odd thing I noticed, in Romania I hardly recall seeing a Russian make vehichle such as Kamaz or Lada. But here in Bulgaria, oh my, but they come out of the wood work from cars to tractors, everything.

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So far, I have been up a little earlier than when P&I were together, so my pedaling day has about 1 more hour in it. With that extra time, I have covered a few more miles and taken a few more photos. I try to stop every 2 hours, get off and walk around…..good advice from my buddy Vladimir. At noon, I try to sit and eat at some local joint and have a conversation if at all possible. Last night, sometimearound midnight, a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning woke me strait up in my bag of sleep. Within about 15 minutes therain was pelting the tent like it wanted to shred the outer layer on me. I had it all staked out at the corners, and guy ropes in place……so, nothing to do but lay down and go back to sleep. Got up about 6.45 and the rain was falling steady and hard. Everything was in pretty good shape really, it all got alot wetter as I tore camp down. Went as fast as I could,but just not fast enough. Skipped breakfast and hit the road. About 9am I passed thru a village and spotted a place to have coffee. Sat down to drink my coffee, 6 other folks all ready sitting around outside on bottle boxes etc…..so I just joined them. Great big fella sitting across from me says “WHERE”,  so I take it he is asking where am I from…..I proceed to tell him America. He opens his arms like giving a hug………and says “I LOFF OBAMA”. Well crap, my day was done. I got up, shook the political dust off my sa dals and moved on right then…….leftmy coffee sitting. had my rain suit on,and was as wet inside as outside,and finally the chill of riding down a big hill, and then pedaling up and getting hot all over again got to me. About 200 yards off tomy right at the top of thenexthill, was anaba doned Soviet type farm building. It was in bad shape,with trees and shrubs growing on the roof. I rode around to the backside to see if I could find a dry spot and fire up my stove to make my own darned coffee. Sure enough, there were just a few feet of floor space that was dry,enough for me……and not enough for O’Blamer.

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Spent maybe an hour getting a couple cups of tea down, and got warmed up. The rain never let up,must kept pounding the ground. 14 hours of it, and at one point my bike showed 48 degrees. Cold enough, I could not get my phone to respond to my touch…….same thing happens to my wife once in a while? Backto the phone,o ce I got myhands dry and warm everything phone wise worked just great. I made it to MONTANA, Bulgaria byabout 3.45pm so decided I would get a room and dry things out as well as charge things back up. My new Canon SX50 camera uses the battery alot quicker than my old camera and it needs a wall outlet to power it. My tablet was also dead from writing and reading at night. Pine, I repacked my bike and like it much better. Front panniers have all clothing and electronics in them. Back panniers now have tools, tent and bag of sleep in them. Which leaves me with the rackbag justfor the stove and all food. I went out on a limb, bought 4 jars (plastic jars) of peanut butter when I found it. I emptied 3 out, washed them good, and replaced contents with jam, coffee etc…….threw way everything glass…….not sure why it took so long to figger that out, and the rack bag is much lighter. Still miss you though,andhope Inever get over it. SO THAT YOU THE READER ANDFOLLLWER OF THIS BLOG UNDERSTAND, I have cussed the WordPress app to no end, becauze it is buggy inzide of a mobile Android platform……enuff to cause severe alchoholism…..promise ya! Today, we will beginmaking changes. My son Pine, has voluntered to take over posting the blogs from home on his laptop. I will send him the text and images via Evernote, and he will postit as he gets the time. The postings could be sporatic and out of sequence…….as I think there may be a women involved…….just sayin.

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Post 9 Ulanbaataar to Tetserleg Mongolia

From Ulanbator(americanized spelling) to Tetserleg, almost 500 miles in just over 4 days.

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   Looking out our Hotel room window in Tetserleg.
We are walking the fast moving and somewhat dirty streets of Ulanbaataar, for a city of it’s size its pretty rough. Considered to have the highest crime rate per capita inthe world, as we read and have been told. All windows at street level are barred, all sidewalks are iether missing or severally frostheaved and cracked. Most of main street has 2 or 3 story buildings facing the street, in front of each building is an added on sort of leanto style store front, selling hair products, stereos,motorcycle repair, etc, you name it and it is here. Huge number of Hummers and Mercedes 500 sport vehicles. We are just window shopping so it does not really matter what we see. Pine is bothnervous and elated at the same time since he has over 1 $million in cash in the right pocket and about $6500.00 in cash in the other……..of course this is in Tugrik and Rubles……..all that cash added up in Usa would by 2 nice steak dinners.

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                                                                         Pine checking the map while we stop for water in Rashant
Many folks called this the true Big Sky country, and in many senses it certainly is a huge piece of blue sky landscape. No where near as grand as say our own Montana though. There are just a few things the guidebooks dont mention……like you literally never are out of sight of a Yurt as we have been told to call them in school, or a Ger. The ubiquitous felt round houses are everywhere. We stopped for the night in no particular  place, just stopped when we got tired at the end of 65miles……we counted 48 Yurts in view. These nomadic stockmen, basically graze alongside the highways and within a few miles of them.
Yaks, have beenplentiful even though we are not yet in true Yak country, but that is comkng up soon.
Basically, I hate to say it but the grasslands are horrendously filthy with trash. It does not bother these folks to just flat toss it when done. Glass is smashed on the old yurt site, and anything not needed is burned right there. Water is a problem in much of the country we have rode thru, for all involved including the animals. As a generality they are friendly folks, but we have encountered a few that are very standoffish and give of a distinct “get lost vibe”.

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                                                                         Yaks, even though we are not yet in true Yak country…….that country is coming up.
The roads are just unbearably ruff, and my butt and Pines look like Santa,s hat…….might have to bend strait over in the next Pharmacy and ask the bespecktacled Pharmacist for his bezt advice. Heck, it may even make the Mongolian Daily Tribune……..a little publisity can’t hurt isn’t that the popular saying.  We have found that these folks just seem to pop out of the ground at will, we have hadseveral wierd happenings that are just wierd. One night, as Pine and I sat in our tent to get out of a very cold north wind, this women just poof appears at the tent and without invite or hesitation climbs right in with us…? After wiping the panicked surprise from our faces, aksing what planet she just fell off of and other more pertinent bits of information…..she invites us to come stay at her Yurt and eat supper with her family. But where we ask, she climbs out and points back to the north west about 2 miles to a distant yurt…..smiles and

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                                                                         Looking thru the wall at Erdensan Monestary

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                                                                         Pretty typical to have a free moving horse herd move thru a villiage
Well, we already had camp set up, so now we pull it all down, get it all on the bikes and convince our burning tired legs they only need to go another 2 mkles in soft sand and grass for a true rest.@#&££#@ was the reply that we both felt. Off we go, start with the first yurt thinking that had to be it………after a long drawn out ‘potatoe, potatoe” attempt at a conversation…..we all smile and leave to try the next yurt that is visible. Same thing as the first Yurt, and onto now a third more distant yurt, and always the same thing……not this one. Its now nigh on dark, and we need to eat and get to bed, so we trudge back to where we initially had camp and set it all up again. We were half puzzled, and half perterbed that we missed out on what may have been a fun encounter……we will never know now.

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                                                                         Looking back on Luz, from ten miles out. Great stop for cold water
Then we had a camp inwhich we set our tents up not under but close to a Mongolian power line. Everything went according to Hoyle, camp is up, we made muttoned noodles with sliced up small golden potatoes. We sat in the tent and visited and I worked on the blog pages……vroom,vroom znd along came a motorcycle with the usual pair or shepard riders in huge bright colored ropes tied at the waste with a brighter sash. Both fellows where pretty young, maybe mid thirties and all smiles and white teeth…….one guy hopped right off and came and sat in the tent with us, mi ni nereg Pine, and mi ni nereg Jeremiah. He was looking at the tablet, so I went thru some images of home in California as well as China images, he seemed amused, smiled, got up and left about as the manner he came in to the tent. So Pine and I turn in, the wind is just howling outside, trying to rip our tents out of the ground. About 2am, we are woke up by a motorcycle and its headlight right at the tent. 2 fellas, not drunk smelling, just concerned that we are to close to the power lines to be safe……….after much discussion we reneg and move camp another 500 yards out……omg we are dog tired and thankful, and they are gone. Maybe 10 minutes goes by, we are both crawled back in……and we hear Pine,Pine from someplace in the abyss of darkness that surrounds us. We crawl out, no light, nothing to know where they are? We walk towward the sound, and finally find them and the tipped over motorbike. Big problems is what we get from the younger of the two, and he demonstrates that the bike will not start……..over and over he tells us the story of how they fell and electricity will burn us, and then again, and again. There is gas, no spark, and no ignition…….we look around and find they now have no plug wire………can we have cigarette, you have cigarette……..you have no plug wire you idiot…..once again, we having that Mogolian potatoe,potatoe conversation. They up and decide to just push the bike, great idea we say, shake thier hands and watch them leave…..slowly.

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                                                                          Pine. Checking out the countryside from one of our camps.
At the moment our bikes seem to be running just fine, but roads like the last few days will take thier toll I am sure. Its a mystery, we run into dirt walls crossing the roads, it forces all traffic off the road out onto the grass. There are places where there may be 5 to 7 different paths to take. Then for no reason, you are back on the paved road, and quarter mile or 3 miles later, you are kicked off again. We figure its Mongolias mystery, much the same as the Italians have the mystery of creating the octagonal Duomo on top the Cathedral. My thought is, that given that we still have reminents of buffalo trails in USA from those longago days…..Mongolian steppes will never heal from thier car created buffalo trails. Many of these bypass roads are 4 feet deep inplaces, and you will have 4 or more of these roads created on each side of the blocked area of perfectly good highway…..go figur.

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                                                                         Just another street in Tetserleg.
Have a real problem with the wiring that runs from our high dollar Son 28 hub. At this point it has never worked and the wiring tabs are always getting pulled off. I sent them an email suggesting a couple of very easy changes they could make leaving you with a bullet proof hub connections……but I guess its just more advice from someone you dont know…….not sure I would take my advice either. But itsa hell of an idea. Another piece of equip we have come to hate is our useless Bontrager speedometer. Way to finicky for a rugged expedition type tour. I should press it flat under my boot heel so its easier to mail home????? without any doubt, we are just amazed at the Schwalbe brand Ultra Marathon Plus tires we are running, cant tell you how impressed we are with them. We bought all Ortlieb brand panniers, great product. We bought the stuff from Wayne who runs the Touring Store, which is an online store, thanks to wayne and his sound advice on preparing the bags for a rough tour, they have worked perfectly. Big thanks Wayne & The Touring Store.com folks.

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                                                                                             Mongolian Wood Duck
Pine and I, have been Praying diligently for my knees healing. Pine has been Praying for it to be better so I can ride further, while I have been Praying with a little more of a self centered reason. I want it all better, so my big buddy Terry Hinkey does not get a chance to fold me in half during physical therapy. What ai have been doing is wrapping just below the kneecap, using a elastized velcro strap meant to hold my tent. I am using it much like a chronic Illiotibial Band…..ther ya go Terry, hows that for big word out of a canyon folk.

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                                       Pine, checking out whats for supper tonight, wait for it…………….wait for it…………..its coming…………Ramen
We like Mongolia, albeit just a tad monotenous in its geography, it. Its like a ride from Magrath to Manyberries in the spring……..thats it folks. Like crossing North Dakota 4 times,non stop. What else can be said, other than the head winds have been a brute for the most part. Todays winds were hitting close to 40, dropped to the low ring to just move forward, or to pedal down a danged hill for that matter. Plenty of climbs, especially today, with 8 good stiff climbs plus that headwind. The little stretch from approx 30 miles south of Tetserleg on into town is the prettiest piece yet, just gorgeous with some snow capped peaks off to the west. The road folows the river bottom, and the river is lined with huge cotton woods and larch.
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Pretty much all the Yurts right on the road have warm but safe bottled water that they sell. Some even keep some snack sort of stuff to sell. So, while we do carry a full and very heavy dromedary, we are niether convinced it is needed. And yet inthe back of our collective minds, we know we could get into serious ttrouble in a hurry without the added water and carry as just that, precaution…….and my wife told me too………good enough. One day as we topped a stiff climb and were dogged. Bang right there was a row of slum lord yurts (real ratty). One sun baked fellow in herdsman garb calls out as he hunkers on the front step to his Yurt. Hotel, hotel he says. We walk over for a rest…….hotel, hotel and he motions us in. In we go, and it is very clean inside, a women motions us to a tiny bench beside a table for us to sit on. Poor Pine, his knes were higher than his ears. The women takes a huge thermos and 2 cups and pours us some tea. The tea, is heavily doused with sheep milk and salt. Not to bad really, except for that lingering mutton taste. Another fellow gets invited in, he sits across the table from us, he is a fellow Mongolian and gets the tea himself. The women walks over to a board laying over a blue plastic barrel, takes up her clever and whacks off some pieces of sheep body parts with a clever…….chop,whack,smash and gersplit goes the sheep. She takes up the meat chunks with both hands, the meat is heavily laden with fat, she tosses that into a large bowl sitting on the stove which is 2 feet to our left. It sizzles and frys in its own fat for a little, she then gets on here hands and knees and ,ifts the bedding on a bed in the ger, draws out a huge bowl covered in towels, she throws those back and digs out several hand fulls of noodles whichshe adds to the stuff on the stove. A tiny 3 year old now enters and plays in the huge noodle bowl like its an everyday fun time thing????? We are mesmirized, as she soundly wipes her hands off on a pantleg, then adds a deft pinch of salt like a suus chef would, knowing the creation is now perfect. Pine and I, are both thinking we are about to be served noodles……..nope, she fills a huge bowl and gives it to the other fellow. I think she sensed our dissapointment, she takes the bowlscrapings and puts them into a small bowl for Pine. She makes a motion to the fellow with the fresh huge bowl, and we wonder? He then takes Pines bowl, he reaches into his own bowl using a spoon and his thumb to load the spoon twice in this fashion and placng his diggings in Pines bowl. All good, smiles all around, now shut up and eat

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                                                       We hit 98 onthe bikes, so we rolled up in that cement culvert……….dang near died of hypothermia
We are dirty, no, we are filthy is more apprepo.(french word thrown in to appease my international fanbase). We have the usual one bottle shower every night, but we need to take a real shower at some point soon. I have 25 mosquitos in my tent with me right now, and they are trying there darndest to get out as I sit here typing.

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                     Pine and his first plank. The irony, the cycilic letters spell out “no planking here”, gosh darn, so sorry, we just didnt know.
I had best turn in, we sit on a grassy bench of land over looking a huge grand grass covered flat that runs clear to the horizon with narry a bump nor imperfection on its surface. Whiles its beautiful to behold, its a pain to cycle thru, as you stuggle to fend off monotony. 

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                                                                          Erdesdan Monestary
Little update, we are now sitting in a very questionable Hotel in Tetserleg. This small outback village is a filthy little place that clings like a dirty barnacle to the hills that surround and bosome this forlorn place. The hills are dry and sandy soil, and the streets are dirt, so dust abounds.  The surrounding hill tops are jagged rock spires made up of what looks to be more like shale than of granite, constant sloughing of small rock rubble down the hillsides.The houses are ramshackle affairs with an assortment of gaily painted rooves and rusting metal rooves, most houses are made of wood boards cut locally. The streets are steep and unkept, with dogs and trash in abundance. We checked into our rattrap hotel, sort of showered with a spray hand piece and cold water. Washed a few cloths in the sink, hunk those on the bikes to dry. Headed out to explore the town. La dee daa, thats done

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Sheep dumplings, were actually pretty good. While we sat there the cook drug a live sheep right in thru the front door, rignt past us and threw the  proverbial swinging door…….slit her throat and butchered her right there. The whole place smelled like Hannibal Lecters kitchen for about half hour……………… but after that there was even fresher meat on the menu.

Blog Page 8, in Ulanbaataar Mongolia

For sure it is not as hot, I think we hit 80 today max, wind out of the west at about 5mph, blue sky and puffy clouds. We leave tomorrow morning, and it is supposed to start raining. Not so bad all things considered.

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Walking the dusty dirty streets of Erenhot on China/Mongolian border

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Follow round the bend, about 100km due south of Ulanbaataar Mongolia
What can I say, except we are now in Mongolia and wow is it desolate. POOCHY MAGIE, you are on your own out here. Apart from plenty of water and food, along with maps and a compass……we have to bring our own rocks for our funeral Cairn!The morning began by hauling our gear, all packed and rolled tight within the confines of what is locally “Mongolian Samsonite”, which is nothing more than a Standard issue feedsack. We tied it tight with wrapping bands and lug hauled it up the stairs and over the bridge to the Main terminal.

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The very ornate dining car, Pine asking in excellent French for help from fellow Francofone.

Everything just sort of fell into place once we got inside theterminal, and we had plenty of time to get boarded and underway. It seems like you climb strait out of Beijing, winding your way along the precipitous edge of  A rivergorge, pa What st huts and precariuos farm plots on the mountains edge. Below, at a distance of sometimes hundreds of feet,and at other times it seems at arms reach, you have the locals existing. Existence in the very barest of terms. These hardy farmers in this rugged landscape have planted millions of trees, I have profound respect for the skills of those who farm this region. Considering what they have for equipment it is really remarkable to see.Climbing out and over that Huangshan row of mountains brings you out onto what has seemed to be a huge plateau, As we were close to the mountains it was mostly crop farming. now as we traverse a due north direction, the  countryside has begun to gently roll, and farm ground has given way to a grassy expanse that touches the horizon. An edifice as to the expansive nature of God, and a reminder of mans frailty within all that has been created.The sky has been thick, flat gray with the pallor of death. We simply cant tell if we are seeing a heavy mask of air pollution, of just a flat low sky……we are jaded, we have been in Beijing too long.

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Seen in Ulan first…..?

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Sukbaataar Square

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The slum streets of Ulanbaataar

Our sleeper car is rather comfortable for a 60,s era Soviet train. For an additional 35 dollars we could upgrade to a 2 man sleeper which has been a smart choice. We even have a shared shower with the couple next cabin. There is a dining car about 2 cars above us as we are arrainged on this train. The Conductor comes by and gives you a meal voucher for a certain time, and with one dinkng car it is pretty brusk and swift service that you get. Think I might take up a collection and try sending one particular waitress to CHARM school. Who would have thought that Nurse Cratshit of One Flew over the Cuckcoos Nest fame would have a Chinese half sister!!!We headed down for our appointed time for lunch but missed it by but a few moments, to which our happy waitress said ” Tsing dachou guam cho ti phat shur zum”. Which is ” suck eggs buddy yer to late”. We sure didnt make that mistake at supper time. Its community dining during meals, just neverknow who will be parked beside you. Tonight we had the pleasure of sitting with a young couple from Israel. Both just got finished with 6 years of service and were taking a break.Darom and Navila. They are headed into western Mongolia as well, but then south to Urumqui and beyond into Tibet. Nice couple, had a brief visit about travel and safety in Israel. Come visit is what I think they would tell you.

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Nothing too see here folks, just another Yurt Slum

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Sukbaataar, the man who gave Mongolia independance back in 1926

Its drawing onto dusknow, and the slate grey sky is beggining to recede back into the black that masters it by night. The countryside has now flattened to that of unleven bread, the grass, what there is is so short as to be nearly invisible. If someone tells you they seen grass up to a Goats belly…….then you can be sure it was a SHOT goat. The train is idling along at about 40 miles perhour, there will be a 3 hour rest stop as we reach Mongolia. The train crew needs to reguage the wheels on all cars so as to move forward onto the narrower Mongolian lines. As this same train enters Russia, it will again be reguaged to ride the Russian track widths.

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Gangordugodesh or something Monestary…..sorry the travel map is packed….too lazy to go get it

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Same shopping Mall, different day

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Buddist Shrine
OMG, OMG……ther are huge sheep shears out on the horizon….forty foot towers and 20 foot blades whirling by…sorry false alarm, just wind turbines.

So, the three hour break proved to be quite an episode. First they roll the train into a shed of sorts, then they break the train into sections ans shunt cars around. Thats a pretty rough go round. They jack all the cars up some 4 feet and remove the wheel assembly from the bottom of each car and reattach new narrower ones. Drop all the cars back in place and reattch. The new engine comes and pulls all thecars back out on to the new tracks as they are ready. The wholetrain rolls ahead about 1/2 mile and just shuts down, dead quite. So, almost all of us settled into our bunks for a nites rest. Some where around. Idnight maybe a little later there is a knock onthe cabin door PASSPORTS, PASSPORTS. We hand them over when the door opens………..nothing……….nothing………nothing, heck I am going back to sleep. Maybe another hour rolls by, knock,knock……..a Lady Officer steps in, bruskly asking about stuff in a language you dont understand and she is constantly trying to turn the lights on. Our cabin seemed to have a new switch designed by Pen&Teller, as it seems you had to turn around 3 times ccw to make it turn on, and hop on one foot to get it to turn off……..didnt seem to us that she knew her way around trains that well, she didn,t know any of these really common train tricks. What is in here, open it up, show me dat, lift this up, who ishe, why are you in Mongolia, where is dat bicycle. Yeah, its pleasant. She is gone, lets get back to sleep and Pine and I are out.I am up first, Pine is still slack jawed and slobbering. Down the hall to the Loo, and do the morning thing, brush my teeth that sort of thing. Man I hate it when the toilet seat hits me in the back of the head when I am getting a drink.

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Pine, doing a little people watching

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Its a gorgeous azure sky, with cotton ball clouds chasing each other across the Mongolian sky. We are now approx 200km south of Ulan, and the grass has really improved, plus we areseeing running water which makes us feel better. We arrived in Ulan at about 2.30pm, its a dusty dirty place with plenty of slum edge to make up for a lack of downtown.now getting the bikes away from the train was a real episode, of which Pine took care of all of it while I watched our gear. 3.5 hours later, and paying an import fee of approx. 60 cents to get the bikes out. Plenty of paper work, Pine even had to make up his own declaration form on a paper napkin to turn around and hand back in. Then walk back to other end of train yard to do more paper work.Bottom line, we got them and they are functioning.

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Always watching you Mike Wozousky.

We loaded the bikes and rode to our White House Hotel. These Mongolians, they drive fast and rude let me tell you, pretty scary on these streets. We shopped for some groceries tonight, then took a awalk about to say we have seen some of Ulan. We dined on some great Doner Kebabs tonight instead of noodles again. George my German friend, the Doners were great……I am still going to start one of these when I get home.Okay, we have transpired one more day in UB as the locals call it. We walked a plenty today, and I am dogged. We made the finding of alchohol our first job, buying 1oz bottles and pouring into a water bottle, now we have to use it with a little care. Next was a knee brace, not one to be found anywhere in this town. From that we headed for an English book store, Pine needed more books. I also bought one to read, not to much text but lots of places to color in. There is a world famous Blck Market Bazzar here…….more crap than 1 canshake a stick at. Strike that bit of advice off the Lonely Planet must do list. Then we heaed up to the Ghandantegchenling Monestary……….ah. Okay you need to remember we are in Mongolia…….they could maybe mow a little grass and pull a few weeds……put out a few trash cans. Huge building with the usual ornate gable ends and roofs, the rest painted white in 1945. Pay at the door, the guy only stops those who do not look Mongolian , kid ya not , Pine walked right in the little Mongol…..I got nipped.

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Once inside, wait a good 10 minutes to let you eyes adjust to the very dim light. Center is a Budda done in gold leaf off Swiss chocolates, its huge, I am lying about the chocolate wrappers. The entire wall area is line with floor to cieling shelves holding sort of Budda dolls in gold capse with tiny fur hats. The same area as it faces Budda is lined with 3 rowa of huge Prayer wheels all made of brass. These folks are the prayer wheel spinninest folks ever….Pine and I figger each brass wheel should be loaded with the makings for ice cream, by noon you would enough fresh ice cream to make a fortune.We headed to the Doner Shop again. But this time we visited with the fellow who owns it, from Colomb Geremany. Real nice guy, he is the head chef down at the Kempinski Hotel, and owns the Doner shop on the side. We learned alot about UB in our visit with him.

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10 days road rations layed out. that and enough water to go duck hunting in.

UP the down stair case

Some might say, It could only happen in China, others may say only to Jeremiah, but I feel like I just lived thru a Candid Camera episode.
So, Pine and I ,moved over to a youth hotel to save a few bucks. It actually suits me better than our overly posh surroundings of last nite. Back to my story though, we were sitting in the room and both had need for some cold water to drink. So natch, I volunteered.

Out the room I went, turned left instead of the proper right, and proceeded down a short hall into a reuired hard left corner. I seen a great old table sitting in the hall and was mindlessly thinking how nice it would look at home………..bing, that int’l c hime known around the world as that of an elevator door.That familiar chime awoke my mental stirrings and I see one man in an elevator, so I sprint over to catch the lift down from our 5th floor lodgings. Down we go, just as simple as that. Ba……ching and the door opens into this overly gloomy basement looking rat hole. I step out too watch the other fellow take a hard right into a stinky, sweaty back alley with dumpster trash and old computer parts………..Wow, I tbought, wonder if that great hall table is still up there , this is surreal?

I make the choice to round the the dark corner in the other direction…….closed door, seems locked……keep walking…….whats that? Some stairs, up we go one flight it seems………..dang its dark, I will never be able to see the cold drinking water it is so dang dark………a door, hoorah, oh crap it seems locked……….around another corner, watch out for the broken ????bricks and old mop handles………a slim crack of light bids me in the gloom. Poochy Maggie, its an unlocked door and I proceed thru………..WHiskey-TAANGO-FOXTROT I think as I walk thru this hanging plastic sheet………I step out into a full on Chinese Grocery store complete with red and gold bedecked banners and gold dragon figures……….bright lights, bins of dried body parts from creatures last seen in Jules Vern novel………thousands of people under 5ft and me………wondering what the hell did I do to get tangled up in this scene? i am expecting a camera pointed at me…….I am sure my eyes were dialated enough they looked like the Hubbard Telesope.

I make a hard left, so as to travel all the way around the room, trying to get my bearings, thinking I may bump into the jokester that set this all up(strangle him quckly), also looking for a window so as to re-boot the “Ocular sensory receptors”. Seeing earth may help me regain my now lost mental edge…….no such luck, not a window to be seen. Round the room i go…….big room so many foot steps take place within this simple sentence. Hey look my Pituitary says……an ice chest………didn’t this adventure start with a need for a cold drink. I love science, just love how the Pituitary has to kick in before yer Coroleanus has a clue its missed a mental message……..not even sure why I got one……Menatl note, remember to ask God why.

i pick out 2 cold teas and prodceed thru the. checkout line. As I turn right, a thin lady blocks a door and says in a high nasal whine ” fengu shou low bing sure,achh”……SHE BLOCKS ME FROM THE DOOR. Crap me thinks, yea now the old Coroleanus is kicking in………even he knows that this maybe a life or death moment……I remind him, that as go I, goes he. Right next to the nasally challenged women is a man dressed in a returned Security Suit……..I know, because on the sleeve it said Bruce. He points at some stairs down and grunts. So, down I go, just one floor, and walk out onto a wood floor…..so far everything has been cement ………its dark as heck, I am on wood floor making my way thru crap you only find unxer a Christmas tree………a plastic horse races out from under a table and under my feet and I think……I wonder if Collins Larae is old enough to play with that. Before I can decide a flying plastic helocopter assails me? I am making a right turn as the offending rotary bug  hit me, i make my way round a corner with plush brown velvet curtains………..a hotel lobby was my first thought………nope………its………..what the heck, an internet chat room with a hundred comfortable seats and young kids typing away to thier beats on Dre as they chat. I see a window…….first one since i started this quest. I peer out, Iam on the third floor. Amazing, I rode down 5, went up one and down one by my count……and ended up on the third floor and maybe 800 yards left of the actual  door to our Youth Hotel and those cold drinks I volunteered to fetch…….next time I will just drink out of the toilet.

The moral here must be, that in all things,political,directional…….or anything else…….always turn right, never to the left.
Never did bump into the camera crew that set this whole scenario up?

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