"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mongolia, A Report from the Field, Cap's Cold Feet

“My feet are cold,” says Cap.  So are mine—NOW—and I am torn between laughing  or smiting him smartly about the head and shoulders.   I do neither.   Instead, I make a note and plot a more fiendish revenge—a nice post on my blog about how he gave us all cold feet.   So, here it is.   Payback.

As they say in detective novels, it all began this morning when we met in a banquet room in the 50/100 Hotel in Moron, Mongolia.   We arrived at 8 A.M., the same time the cooks did.   Within a few minutes, we were served a bowl of mushroom soup.  

Mmmmm....   Mushroom soup.   But not after eating the below....

A Denver omelet with bread, butter and jam.

Then came a nice Denver omelet along with bread, butter, jam, and tomatoes.   Tasty breakfast, and just right for a cold day after an overnight snow.

Cap appeared without Patti, so he ate two breakfasts....   Except for the soup.  Not Cap’s favorite.   He doesn’t eat mushrooms and when he can pick them out of his food, he gives them to Patti, who relishes them.

We loaded up in the SUV and headed south from Moron with packed snow and slippery ice covering the two-lane road.   I’m in the left front seat, Chimdee the driver in the right seat, Cap and Patti are in the two middle seats.   Yusuf sits in the rear seat with the overflow luggage.   

Usually the guide rides in front next to the driver, from where he comments on things we are passing.  Since Cap and I are all about photos, we seniors “bullied” Yusuf to the rear and he didn’t complain.  (Out loud to us, anyway.)

Morning in a cold and snowy Moron.

I don't know what this is, but I thought it was a cool building across from the hotel.

Now, back to Cap’s cold feet.

Chimdee pulls into a gas station before we leave Moron proper and stops.  Cap, as usual, gets out to let Yusuf out to pay for the gas and to walk around, leaving the door open while the rest of us sit in the still-chilly van.  This all takes several minutes—the refueling and paying—and by the time Cap gets back in the van and complains about his cold feet from standing in the snow, the van has returned to its earlier frozen state and we all have cold feet.

Eventually the van warms up, but my feet stay cold.    We drive on, trying to get as close to Ulaanbaatar as possible so we can be there easily by noon tomorrow.

Speed bumps.

Vultures and crows making a meal of a speed bump.

On the outskirts of Bulgan, where we had stayed in a remodeled Khruschev building a few days before, we pass a sign that reads:   No Alcohols Bulgan.

I ask Yusuf and he says it's like a motto, a form of encouragement not to drink.   Alcoholism is a major problem in Mongolia.   We drive on.

“Jeanne, are you hungry?” ask Yusuf after a while.

“No, not really.”

How about you guys?” he says to Cap and Patti.

“NO!” says Cap emphatically.   “Erendet!”   There is someone there in Erendet he hopes to contact and is anxious to get to this large city.   So on we go, stopping only when Cap requests a break to water the snowy gravel shoulders and go walkabout for a few minutes.   Patti laughs that it’s a good way for him to burn off energy and keep him calm during the drive.

Cap on one of his walkabouts.

Eventually, we reach Erendet and stop at a very nice Asian restaurant for lunch.   Cap goes walkabout again—to the post office and a place where he can add minutes to his cell phone.

Now, all the walkabouts today must have given Cap a big appetite, because when returns from doing his chores, he devours the last bite of Patti’s fruit salad, more than half of my chicken Alfredo with broccoli, and a huge portion of Chimdee’s luscious yak short ribs with roast potatoes, carrots, and spinach.

Patti's "fruit with yoghurt".   There might have been a tablespoon of yoghurt on top.

Doesn't this look tasty?   Chimdee's yak short ribs with potatoes, carrots and spinach.

What was left of my chicken Alfredo.

Yusuf's shrimp with pasta.

Yusuf and Chimdee.

In fairness to Cap, Chimdee offered all of us a taste of the yak meat.  Yusuf and Patti declined, as neither of them are red meat eaters.   I accepted a small bite although I had already eaten too much of my pasta; it was delicious.   I’m not sure what happened to Yusuf’s shrimp with pasta.   Maybe he ate it all before Cap got back to the restaurant.

Leaving Moron.

Red Mountain in the snow.   Yusuf's mother was born near here.   The mountain is considered sacred to the nomads.  In Mongolian, it's name is Ulaan Khairhan

Cap finally accepts my offer to let him have the front seat for the next leg of the journey.  Before we reach our hotel for the night, Chimdee once again stopped to refuel the van.  A handsome young boy smiles at us from the station lot.

Cap and the boy exchange hand signs and Cap gives the boy some money.   I walk over and give him a wafer cookie.   He is a sweetie.

And then we arrive in Darkan, but not before more of the DRAMA that seems to follow Cap like a faithful puppy.

I stole this photo from Cap's blog.   He uses it frequently.


This was a snowy, misty day and all the photos below were taken through the van's windows.   I rather like the dreamy effect.

That's a herder sitting high on the side of the mountain, watching over his flock.   See photo below.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mongolia, A Report from the Field: The Backache of Culture Clash


An unidentifiable noise is trying to take me up.  I’m fighting it as hard as I can without waking myself to the point of no return.


I keep my eyes closed.   Scrape…………………   Where am I ?  

 Ah, in a hotel room in Moron, Mongolia.   Good place to start my detecting.   Let’s see.   I remember pulling back a corner of the drapes and opening the window a couple inches to let in some fresh cold air.   Ah, ha!   Big clue: Snow was falling.

So, someone’s plowing the street or parking lot?   


 Irregular intervals.

Okay.  Enough.   I get up and look out the window.

Someone is plowing the parking lot all right.   There is a small mound of snow in the middle of the open area.   Odd way to remove snow, I think.

Then a man comes from a dark corner of the lot and approaches the pile.   I can not believe what I am seeing!

He has a piece of flat plastic measuring about 30” by 30”.   It has no handles so he holds the upper edges and shoves the plastic sheet under the pile of snow.   He scooped up as much snow as he can and walkes to that dark corner where he deposits the snow on a growing mound.

I watch as he works, wondering how I could send him a snow scoop from home, the kind you never have to pick up.   You just push it along until the scoop is full, then move it to where you want to leave the snow.   Gads, even a grain scoop would be better than a flat piece of plastic.

When he finishes, I go back to bed with an empathetic backache and think about how good we have it at home.  It is a humbling moment, brought about by a difference in tools.

Now, it’s the next morning and we’re checking out of the hotel.  A young man carries our bags out to the van.  I turn on my camera, find the right picture, and show it to him along with the appropriate pointing.

Yes, it was this fellow who cleared the lot with a piece of plastic.   He laughs and I squeeze his biceps.    
He laughs harder.

And we’re off, heading to Ulaanbaatar.

The 50/100 Hotel in Moron, Mongoloia:

I've read reviews on Trip Adviser that weren't very complimentary of this hotel.   The reviewers sure didn't stay in my room!    I found it very, very nice and immaculate.

Wall opposite the bed.

Wonderful shower.

Love shower heads like this one.

I had to laugh at this coaster in the room.

My chicken and pasta lunch.  Very good.

A plate of fries served with sweet and sour sauce.   Don't recall who ordered these.

My dinner:  A chicken thigh steak with a sweet and sour sauce, some veggies and a few fries.

Patti's chicken and rice with veggies.

Front entrance of the hotel

In USD, figure half the rate.   So for a king room, it's about $50.

A small shop across from the hotel.   Yes, that's a Khrushchev building behind the shop[.

The local post office:

And, the daily progress of the magnificent bruise.    Three months later, the bruised area still is sensitive.   There's a slowly fading "stain" on the surface over where the hematoma was.   So lucky I didn't break my hip.   The point of impact was right below the ball of the hip.

Where in the world........

The huge map in the lobby of the 50/100 Hotel.  We are a bit below the large lake on the northern border,;left center.

Our day begins as we leave Moron, below Khuvsgul Lake.

Mongolia is the orange country above big yellow China and below pink Russia.