This is it; this is the time I’ve dreaded. One last night in a hotel, a short drive tomorrow, and my Mongolian adventure will be in its final hours of organizing and packing and making sure I have the right documents for the flight out of Ulaanbaatar to Hong Kong.
It does not pass without a couple appearances of Cap’s faithful companion: DRAMA!
After lunch in Erendet, Cap accepts my offer of the front seat and I sit in the middle row with Patti. Our wonderful guide Yusuf is again consigned to the back seat with the luggage. He does not complain. At least, he does not complain in English.
|For much of our trip, trees grew only on one side of the hills/mountains. Don't know why.|
While the seating change affects my ability to take photos, hence there are very few from this part of the trip, it puts Cap front and center where he can see all the action. After a short time, he mentions the old adage about not understanding another until you walk a mile in his shoes, and adapts it to our current situation. The view resulting from riding in the front seat is entirely different than riding in the middle seat and he expounds upon this happily.
|Boys herding the cattle.|
He also discovers one of the disadvantages of being where all the action is when afternoon daylight dwindles and evening darkness arrives: Mongolians drive with their bright lights on and rarely dim them for oncoming traffic. Our driver Chimdee is guilty of this, too, and this retired policeman is now a driving instructor.
If they do dim their brights, they make up for it by changing to brights just before they reach you, thus blinding everyone in the front seat and bringing on an episode of Cap’s DRAMA. Cap, Patti, and I have all had cataract surgery (all by the same surgeon in Alaska) and I find that bright lights affect me more, so while I empathize with Cap, I keep quiet as he discourses about it.
Eventually, we arrive in Darkhan (also called Darhan or Darchan), a city of about 75,000, and one of the largest industrial cities in Mongolia. Our hotel is the Comfort Hotel. It gets moderate reviews on Trip Advisor, but I considered it equal to your average Motel 6. Checking in takes quite a while and Yusuf handles it all.
This gives me time to wander about the lobby and find a couple interesting things.
|Pineapple juice in a vending machine.|
|A cute little girl in the lobby.|
Finally, we gather in front of the elevator with all our luggage and the bell boy picks up as much as he can carry. There is a bit of confusion as the elevator clearly can not handle all of us and our luggage. Cap makes sure all his and Patti’s bags are accounted for, and finds his expensive CPAP machine, which he uses at night to control his sleep apnea, is missing. He carries it in a black pouch with a shoulder strap.
The bell boy and I are already in the elevator, so they tell me to go on ahead while Cap goes to check the van for the CPAP, which I do, completely unaware that Cap’s faithful companion DRAMA is now FRONT and CENTER in the elevator.
The bell boy shows me to my room and sets down my luggage. Then he takes a strap off his shoulder and I realize he’s holding Cap’s CPAP gadget! I make enough of a hand signal/English word fuss that he realizes this is what was missing downstairs and he takes off at a brisk pace. I find out later there was great relief when he showed up with the missing gadget.
I look out the window. If my reckoning is correct, my room is right over the Karaoke room and I wonder if there will be any sleep tonight.
After a few minutes, Yusuf knocks on my door and starts to apologize. It takes him a while to get around to his purpose. We have the very last rooms in the hotel. (He had told me earlier that he had his manager cancel all the reservations on the trip when things began changing to the new timetable for getting back to UB by noonish Saturday so Cap could attend his meeting.)
At long last he gets to it: Cap and Patti have a room in which the bed is too small for the two of them and he wants to know if I would switch with them. “Well, of course,” I say. I haven’t unpacked anything, so he grabs my duffle bag and we head for their room.
I’m in another nice room now and not over the karaoke club. I have a nice night’s rest.
|A chunk of wood for the leg of the retro-fitted bathtub.|
Cap and Patti do not, and it has nothing to do with being over the karaoke club.
The Daily Bruise:
|Don't get any ideas. This is on the outside of my thigh.|
PS: Yes, I'm having fun at Caps expense. Really, there was little to say about this part of the trip and I found that Cap's favorite "DRAMA" photo that he uses on his blog when things go awry was perfect to fill in the long hours of driving.