It’s me again writing from Ulan Bator Mongolia. How did I get here and why am I here? So let’s start the day. We were supposed to sleep in and take a late morning flight to UB from Khovd. That flight was cancelled and rescheduled from Hinnu Airways to Aero Mongolia for 6:45 PM and then that flight was cancelled and pushed up to 4PM. We did not take off until after 5 PM. I felt like I was flying on LIAT Airways. LIAT Airways is a local puddle jumper airline that has flights between the islands of the Caribbean. Have flown them many times. LIAT stands for “Leave Island Any Time”. I felt like I was on LMCAT or “Leave Mongolian City Any Time”. Andy and Kevin then set up a lightroom/photoshop workshop for us. We each submitted five images and all of us critiqued them. I was so proud of myself when Andy said on my images “Good Job”. The Khovd Hotel is decorated like it was from the mid seventies furniture and the wifi was horrible. I used my NY charm and personality to get them to put a different router in my room and I finally was wired up. Breakfast was a disaster so Zaya made us coffee and Andy and Kevin bought cookies and ice cream as we sat through our workshop. I so enjoy these workshops and would love to see the photographers I send this blog to join me for a future trip. Jenn and myself took a walk around Khovd for about one hour. How could I describe Khovd? Not a hotbed of activity. A sleepy town where Russian looking buildings are dispersed amongst Ger tents and stone and dirt structures for the residents. Sort of reminded me of Langa. Langa is a township outside Cape Town without the government looking buildings.
We then went to lunch next door to the hotel. I had Mongolian dumplings. They were four large dough wraps filled with beef. Could not finish them. Very good. Andy and Kevin then arranged for a special treat for us. Two men and one woman performed ethnic music and dance wearing traditional ethnic clothing. The woman performed throat singing and was much better than the previous time I had heard it. It was now time to board our vehicles and go to the airport.
The Airport was quite a scene. A small terminal looking like it had not been changed since the 1950’s. There were no planes on the ground and there was an old man helping people with their luggage. He did not help us but I felt sorry for him and gave him some money through Zaya. In the final waiting room I struck up a link with a little Mongolian girl who started to call me father in Mongolian. We made faces and sounds back and forth. Our place finally arrived. A two prop fifty passenger plane that needed to first disembark the incoming passengers and then we finally boarded. Imagine a full plane of Mongolian people and us with lots of babies and little children. It seemed that more and more children were crying and running down the aisle by the minute.Slept a little but the noise and crying was almost too much to bear. I have been on a worse plane ride than this on this trip. Image sitting in coach for 6 and one half hours surrounded by at least 50 to 100 Chinese people. I have traveled extensively through this part of the world and the Chinese I have been exposed to are very rude and loud most of the time. The Chinese seem to yell and not talk.
After three and one half hours of crying and noise we finally arrived in UB. The night air was cool and refreshing. The Airport here is named Genghis Kahn International Airport. What do you expect? Finally arrived at our hotel at around 10:30 PM. UB is one hour ahead of Western Mongolia or twelve hours ahead of NY.
Everyone had dinner at the hotel. Just a side note. Mongolians drink lots of vodka. The muslim people do not drink. You do not have to go to bartender school to be a bartender in Mongolia. They serve and drink the vodka by the shot. Straight up and lots of shots. Mainly only Russian and Mongolian vodka. Most of the signs are in two languages, Mongolian and Russian. Most of us have been in hotels where there are a few clocks telling the time in various cities around the world. In Khovd, our hotel had five clocks in the lobby. The times were Moscow, Tokyo, Beijing, UB and Khovd. No NY? Crazy. Another quick detail from our hotel in Khovd. The toilet paper was very strange. They do not have trees here so toilet paper is scarce. They gave you a very small roll of plastic sort of paper. Some of us commented about it.
This day was sort of a mopping day. We are all dragging our feet. We have a special day tomorrow and the last day for Jenn, Gorgi and Jay. They will be leaving us to go home. Andy, Kevin, Zaya, Kip and myself are left. Where will we be going? Not yet. Think about what else is in Mongolia and few people have visited nor seen. Stay tuned.