22 June 2010

Mongolia: The Departure

We had agreed to go with Dofa to a local national park/religious monument on our second last day. She was to pick us up at the hostel at 10:00, and we’d head off. She didn’t get there until after 1pm. Ulaanbaatar (UB) was hosting their first marathon that day, and most of the city was blocked off at some stage or another. They spent hours trying to get to us, but they perservered.

The park was beautiful, with quite a few trees, which is unusual for Mongolia. The religious site within the park was equally interesting, most of it had been totalled in the communist times, as usual. At the end of the day, we picked a few local wild vegetables, and brought them back to UB, Dofa had a traditional dumpling recipe for them.

The food was good, and they got out the bottle of Vodka we had brought from Russian and given them on our first visit. They insisted we couldn’t leave until we had finished the whole bottle with them, as it was bad luck. Then they got out the remnants of another bottle, which we’d been drinking the first time. Again, it was necessary to finish it.

Dofa got out one of her traditional Mongolian instruments, and played for us, as well as getting her grandson out of bet to play the horse head violin for us. He looked pretty groggy, but preformed well, it was turning into a bit of a session in both senses of the word (links). We got back to the hostel quite drunk at 1am.

Getting our trains tickets to China should have been easy. But due to visa issues, plus a few breakdowns, it proved to be an ordeal. I had a month visa, so I could leave the country anytime within a month of arriving. Audrey had no visa, as Hong Kongers get 14 days free, but once we got there decided we’d be there for more than two weeks. We got Audrey an exit visa hat was valid for 10 days, but it meant we had an overlap of only 4 days to get out of the country.

We waited for about 40 minutes for the number 4 trolleybus from the centre of town to the ticket office. When it finally arrived, we got on, and it broke down within 300 metres. The driver got out and clambered up onto the top of the bus, and started hammering away at something for 10 minutes. Luckily, another number 4 came by, stopped, and everyone got on. It broke down another 500 metres later. A dude in a high visibility jacket, who had been sleeping on the back seat, sprang into action, climbed up on the bus, tinkered with something, and we were off again in a couple of minutes.

Finally we arrived at the ticket office. After paying for the tickets and handing over our passports for the clerk to fill in the details (for some reason, even a democratic society like Mongolia likes to keep track on your movements, just like the Russians did), she printed only one ticket. We thought there might be a problem with Audrey’s visa (the process at the immigration department had been quite confusing). Eventually it turned out the printer had broken down. We had to come back 6 hours later to get them.

Finally, we left Mongolia at 7:00pm on the 7th of June.

2 comments:

Paula said...

That wasn't very exciting! Come on you've normally more to say than that!

Sokratees9 said...

I think I was fatigued by Mongolia after a few weeks of it, and it has been more than two weeks since we left, some details may have been lost in my head somewhere. China will be better!