Thought I would not have internet tonight, but we changed our plans and am writing from a pretty nice hotel in Dalanzadgad. I am going to say it again, Where is Dalanzadgad? I’m here and I don’t know where I am. More on the town later.
We left our hotel in UB at about 8 AM. I slept like a log and could barely get up. Loaded all our stuff, and there’s lots of it, into two Land Cruisers. Many of the Land Cruisers in Mongolia have the exhaust from a high large pipe in the front of the vehicle and not under the back of the vehicle. That is for the rough terrain. I immediately fell asleep. I was in a Land Cruiser with Zaya and our driver. His name is Gamba. He is 56 and has three grandchildren. Does not speak any English, but we managed to communicate. Kevin, Andy, Kip and their driver were in the other Land Cruiser. i took the whole back and enjoyed a great snooze until I was awoken in front of a large supermarket right outside of UB. Whenever Andy is the leader of a workshop
I am on, he constantly stocks up the vehicles with cookies, candies, sodas, crackers etc. A real junk food maniac. We also needed one essential item that was a necessity. You guessed it, toilet paper. It was very knowledgeable walking around the supermarket seeing all the different items that the Mongolians eat, especially at the meat department. You could just imagine. Olivia loves to go to the supermarkets of the countries when we travel together. Loaded up all our junk including the valuable toilet paper and we were back on our way. I crawled into the back row and immediately fell asleep again. At about 11 AM we pulled over for a rest and outdoor toilet. Andy and Kevin had their usual smoke and I visited the Mongolian toilet. I said to myself I need to stay up. Zaya and myself switched places and we were back on our way. Zaya said that we have not reached the real Gobi yet. By the way, I was wrong last night. The Gobi is the fifth largest desert and totals over 500,000 square miles with most of it in Mongolia. Wd passed lots of sheep, horse and cattle herds. There were also lots of Ger Camps and tents set up by the locals.
We finally passed into another province and drove to the center of the province. We were taken to a nice restaurant, for Mongolian standards, and when we went in there were lots of locals there. I ordered the fried mutton with Mongolian dumplings. My first mouthful of the mutton exploded in my mouth. Zaya was sitting next to me and I asked her why the mutton was so rich tasting. She said that the meat from the Gobi is the best meat in Mongolia. She said that when you buy it from the local butcher, it is more expensive than the regular meat. The reason is that the sun and some Gobi onions that the livestock eat, make the meat much richer and tastier. Try to find Gobi meat in America. The mutton was out of this world. Another highlight was that Andy showed me that my beloved Yankees had done the impossible and beaten the Indians after being down by two games to advance to the league championship series. Getting the news in a small Mongolian restaurant in the middle of the Gobi. New York must be going crazy.
It was then back on the road. We filled up with gas and took the same paved road out of town. I was sitting in the front seat again, listening to Mongolian music, and clicking away. What a great mental immersion. We then took a left and left this great smooth paved road. I have been on so many unpaved rock roads, that it was a relief driving on a paved road. We drove and drove and finally started to see camels in clusters. There are two types of camels, the one hump and two hump. The two hump are found in Mongolia. We stopped for some landscape shots, snacks and Andy’s and Kevin’s smoke. On the last stop, my Land Cruiser led and over the next ridge was something that will be hard to describe. I pointed in awe. There were approximately 150 camels in a straight line walking across the desert. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The driver immediately stopped and I started to walk closer to the line and kept on clicking. What a sight to behold and remember. Andy’s Land Cruiser finally arrived. Everyone got out. The camels all stopped and formed a sort of circle where they all got closer. A Russian van arrived and a couple got out with their cameras. I tried talking to them, but their accent was weird and they did not understand English. Zaya said they were probably Russian. Some of the camels laid down while others stood up. We all got very close to them. I kept on clicking. It seemed that the camels were posing for us and were very friendly. They were great subjects. Stood almost still and created great poses. I told Andy that this seemed staged and was too perfect. His response was that he had called 1-800-Camel yesterday and ordered the camels just for us. After spending lots of time with the camels, we drove on.
Arrived at a large outcropping where we were able to look around the area from high up on a ridge. The sun was starting to set and Andy wanted us to get some good sunset shots. We then drove down to the floor below the ridge. There were lots of large rocks and sand creating a fire looking effect as the sun was going down. We drove up and down little hills. Reminded me of the jeep tours in Sedona and Moab. Sometimes the vehicles were going up a large incline and then down. We shot some beautiful rocks and sand where the colors were constantly changing as the sun set.
It was now time to continue on the rock and thank god, flat surface. It was around 6:30 and we were over two hours from our stay for the night. At 7 we stopped in total darkness in the middle of the Gobi, for Andy and Kevin too have their smokes and for all of us to use the reliable Mongolian toilet in the middle of no where. We then started our engines up and I immediately fell asleep. At about 9 we finally arrived Dalanzadgad. I had to google Dalanzadgad. Google says that Dalanzadgad is the capital of Omnogovi province in South Gobi. I still don’t know where I am. Google also says that there is not much to do here. Who would want to come here. Kip said it is a Chinese mining town and that our hotel was built by the Chinese. The Chinese border is around 100 miles away.
We all checked in and had fifteen minutes to meet for dinner. Andy, Kevin and Kip all had spaghetti with beef. Spaghetti is very popular. The story is that spaghetti was invented in China and Marco Polo brought it back to Venice. This was according to Kip and when I googled it, he was correct. Of course, I had mutton with flour. Could not eat most of it and Andy took one and the drivers took the other.
I don’t know how I could sleep tonight. Took lots of long naps. Still thinking of the camels.
This will certainly be my last blog for the next three days. Will be staying in a Ger camp. Will copy and paste those blogs when we get back to UB on the last day.
We leave at 9 AM