July 20, 2014
Rice and dried mushroom tastes awful even if it’s the only option on the menu for a lost cyclist in Mongolia. After forcing it down our throats, we had to double back on the same sandy road we had pedaled yesterday. On our way, we saw a local guy on a motorbike who drew on the sand the same thing: turn left after 20 km and then 15 km to Muste.
After 20 km, we found some tire tracks on the left supposedly toward Muste. There was no road sign or anything to indicate that the tracks would lead us to the town. We couldn’t afford to get lost again, so I stopped a passing truck and asked the driver if the tracks would take us to Muste. He wrote on the sand: 22 km. We followed the tracks—the only meandering signs we could depend on. The tracks turned into a dirt road later. It was heartening to finally see the town on our GPS getting closer and closer. Finally, we arrived there at 12 noon. It was a very ugly town, a group of sporadic houses. Surprisingly, there was a "hotel", a dilapidated building with no running water. The toilet was a shed outside the buidling with a hole in the ground. We decided to stay in the "hotel" as I wanted to rent a Jeep to Bulgan to get my iPad back—on one condition though: I had to pay for the cost of our stay as we didn’t have to stay in this ugly town.
We bought some water and groceries from a shop where I asked the owner if he would drive me to Bulgan and back. He asked for 400,000 Mongolian money, which is roughly about $200. After negotiation, he agreed on 300,000. I didn't deal with him. I went to another shop where there was a parked SUV. The guy didn't understand me so he drove me to a yurt where we met a lady who could speak some English. After a long negotiation, we agreed on 250,000 Mongolian money, but if I get my iPad back, I would pay 300,000.
Hopeful, we took off at 1 pm along with two other non-English speaking chatterboxes, one happened to be a police officer, as he claimed. During the ride, one of the guys asked me a lot of questions in very broken English. It was annoying to keep a conversation as I was tired and also worried if I could still get my iPad back after all this hassle.
Sitting comfortably in a 4-by-4 Mitsubishi, I was wondering: "what drives us through these impossible terrains. How can we find the energy and the motivation?"
Close to the Bulgan, we had a flat. The driver and the guys swapped the tire and we arrived in the town from dirt-road shortcuts. I walked into the hotel saying, “Hello, Hello”. As soon as the staff saw me, she repeated, “iPad, iPad”. Such nice people! After 4 days, I got my IPad back. Of course, it cost me $200.
On the way back, we had to wait for two hours to have the flat fixed; then, we went to pick up the two guys who had come with us from Muste, where we were invited in and fed. The house was kind of interesting; it did not have any furniture, but it had a cheesy, flashy stereo with a lot of lights, like the lights in a disco. There also was an artificial aquarium!
Finally at 7 pm, we started toward Muste and arrived there at 1:20 am. I had to wake up the woman working/living in the hotel to open the door for me. I went straight to bed not dreaming or thinking about how to get my iPad back.
|Noodle with some meat and fat|
|Before the left turn toward Must|
|The way to Muste|