Monday, October 10, 2005

Late night Chess

It's night time. Everyone went to sleep and Tegshe invited me to play chess with him. It is going to be a night of chess and vodka, and not just any vodka, Mongolian vodka, and not just any Mongolian vodka, one of the worst Mongolian vodkas - "ICE vodka"! Well, what can I say, I like chess and I like drinking, and mixing them just sounds like a great idea.

The vodka is starting to take its effect on me as we are in the middle of the first game. Tegshe looks like he is still focused and he pours us another cup and fill it to the end. I lose the first game. Tegshe looks at his watch, shakes my hand and says "happy birthday". Walla... I forgot :) it is my birthday cause it's midnight now. I told Tegshe three days ago that my b.day is coming and he actually remembered that.

Many bugs are flying over our heads. Tegshe is starting to get pissed off. He really hates bugs. He is starting to kill them, one by one. At some point he loses his temper and start hitting the table. I tell him, Tegshe you will wake up the guys! He can't see me, he has this weird, mad look in his eyes. He is hitting the table again and again, almost dropping the chess board off the table, and then it happened. He hit some sharp thing on the table and cut his hand. It was just a small cut but for Tegshe it was a big humiliation. He stands up, goes to his jacket and pools out his knife. Every flying bug or butterfly he manages to catch, he puts on the table and stab it with his knife. For more than 5 minutes I am sitting there, watching him and laughing. As he comes down and sit back on his chair I tell him "man, you are crazy :)" and start laughing. He says "It's your turn, play", as if nothing happened.

The solar lamp has been beeping for hours now. I tell Tegshe that the sound of the lamp reminds me the last days in the hospital with my Mom, when she was connected to the monitor and me and my brother were sitting there, starring at the screen, watching the numbers going a bit lower every day. Tegshe said he is sorry to hear that my mother died and then he told me that his mother died also, and after taking a few seconds to calculate he said it was 26 days ago. It felt strange, like something got us here together, sharing the same loss and the same pain.

We start another game, Tegshe playes very strong but somehow, I don't really know how, I win. We decide to have a third game that will determine the winner of this drunk chess contest. It is a tight game, we both have almost no pieces left, but Tegshe has a queen so I surrender.

Fish in the International Space Station

The next morning we got up to our first day at the White Lake.

I swear, I don't know why they call it the white lake. If it was up to me I would call it the green lake maybe, or the brown lake or "God's little toilet lake". But anyway it's a nice lake :-) We had a day off, which means that Tegshe and Wire'e went to town and left us alone. It did feel like a day off and I guess it was because of Tegshe's bossy behaviour. We spent most of the day lying on the sand, writing, drawing and talking, until they got back in the evening.

We told Tegshe about giving up on the Gobbi desert. He was very disappointed, for him it was a failure, being a bad guide. He tried to understand why and we gently explained our "being zombies" reasons. He said he understands and that it is our trip and he is here to make us happy, but it was obvious that he felt blame. Or maybe, he just really wanted to see the Gobbi, maybe he was never there... who knows...

At night, me Shlomit and Rami took our sleeping bags out of the Ger and lied on the ground to watch the stars. The sky were clear and it was a perfect night for watching stars. We saw many falling stars, I think maybe 20 or 30 of them. Being outside in the nature and watching the sky at night is something so basic and yet so rewarding, it feels so great and I just wish I was able to do it at home, in the city of artificial lights.

I went into the Ger to get my jacket and I found there Tegshe and Wire'e, standing around the table, the solar lamp over their heads beeping to let them know it will soon go off, and they are just standing there cutting the fish they got today with great pleasure. This funny couple is just so in love with fishing and anything related to fish. They had a pile of fish slices and another pile of fresh fish just waiting for their skilled hands. They looked happy, busy with their work, telling jokes and laughing. I got back outside and lied again on my sleeping bag to watch the sky. We saw something who looked like a star that was moving slowly in the sky. I told Rami and Shlomit that I've seen this thing a few times before and that I think it is probably a surveillance plane because it is flying so high. Rami said that it isn't a surveillance plane and that it's the International Space Station. He got really excited and started explaining us about it. We believed him even though after two days he admitted that he just saw this moving star again and this time he actually saw two of them going in different directions :)

We continued watching the sky and I started imagining Teshe and Wire'e, standing in the middle of the international space station, between two piles of fish, one pile already sliced, the other floating a few centimeters over the table, waiting for their loving hands and funny jokes.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Zombie no more!

When we first started to plan the trip in Mongolia, we decided to go for 21 days to the countryside, all the way from the capitol, Ulan-bataar, up to "Hofsgol" lake in the north and down to the "Gobbi" desert in the south. We didn't realise then how big Mongolia is and how slow and hard the ride in the Russian van is.

As I explained before, we had some hard time inside that van. The gasoline smell, the bumpy road, not being able to sleep and not being able to digest the scenery. In one word - Zombie. Well, a week after we started this trip I decided - Zombie no more! I decided that I am not that interested in getting to all parts of Mongolia and that I can easily be satisfied with just the north part of it. I mean, the Gobbi is probably just like the "Negev" in Israel, or maybe a little nicer, but I'm pretty sure it is more appealing for Europeans or people from other cold countries who have never seen a desert before. Another thing is that when you move so fast and spend 8-10 hours every day in the van, you don't really get to see or be in Mongolia. A typical day during that first week was: Get up in the morning, cook breakfast, get everything in the van, go on the van for a ride of 8-10 hours, sometimes stop on the way for 10-15 minutes of sightseeing, get to the next station by evening or night time, build up the tents, cook dinner, eat dinner, wash the dishes, go to sleep. That obviously wasn't seeing Mongolia, or being in Mongolia. I decided to leave the group when we get to the next city.

I told Rami about my decision and he said he feels the same but he is not leaving the group yet. A few hours later I told Shlomit and Avner and we all set together and got to the conclusion that we are giving up on Gobbi. With that new, shorter and slower route, I decided to stay in the group. From that moment I started to feel great. Before that I was quite depressed, I felt like I'm missing Mongolia while staying in it. On one side I did want to leave the group, probably cause I'm not a group person and I really like being on my own, but when they all said they want to give up on the Gobbi, I thought that things can get better also for the group dynamic that was starting to get tensed.

We decided to tell Tegshe, the guide, about our decision, the next day.

Friday, September 30, 2005

My horse just loves farting

When we got to the famous big "Hofsgol" lake we rented horses. We got horses with a normal saddle and not the local wooden saddle. My horse was too short for me but all Mongolian horses are quite short. We started riding slowly but after a couple of minutes I started going really fast. Rami managed to control his horse also but Avner and shlomit were behind us most of the time. After maybe 15 minutes I turned around and saw Shlomit losing control on her horse and heading fast towards a big tree. She tried to avoid hitting the big branch with her head by lowering her head but that made her fall. It was a big and funny fall but I only allowed myself laughing after I saw her getting up in one piece.

We continued riding and then I started hearing loud farting noises. My horse was farting. He was farting according to the way he was moving, flarp, flarp, floorp, flarp, flarp, floorp! For the whole ride who took around 4 hours he was just farting all the time! Flarp and floorp and sometimes flirp, so I decided to call him "hazarzir" the Hebrew name for "Piglet" from the Winnie the pooh story.

Riding the horse felt really natural for me. I enjoyed every moment of it, going slow or fast. The view around the lake was breath-taking. The lake was aqua blue, the mountains around it were beautiful and the sky were blue in a way that I've never seen before. the nature around the north of Mongolia is amazing.

In the end of the first day's ride we got to a Ger camp, sort of a hotel in Mongolian terms. They had a ping-pong table there and I was really happy to find out that Wire'e, the driver, knew ping-pong and in fact was the son of a professional ping-pong player. We started playing and I quite bit him up. He was very skilled with the technical part but was weak with his strategy, so I won most of the games.

The second day we had another 5 hours with the horse and we continued riding around the lake. This time we did it on a hidden dirt path, going between trees and having a great view of the lake. I felt like I want to this for the rest of my life, move to Mongolia, buy a Ger and a horse and travel in this peace forever, and then I heard "hazarzir" farting again, well I think I'll just go back to Israel and my air conditioned car...

Moron, where all the morons live...

The third day we got to a small city called "Moron". It wasn't really a city, more like a small town, filled with morons.

The atmosphere over there was just scary... The sky were red and covered with clouds, the streets were dirty and busy with lots of ugly people who looked violent and hostile. Everyone were looking at us as we went out of the car, but they didn't carry the typical smiley, oh here's a nice tourist, look on their faces. I think it was more like a look of, I wanna smash you heads and get you money. If I try to find some parallel place that I can compare Moron to, it will be the 1880's Texas we've all seen in the movies.

We only got there to get more grocery products for our cooking. We stared heading to the store and Avner decided to get a photo of the place. He pulled out his camera from his bag and pointed it to the back of the road, probably to get both the red sky and the people. Suddenly we heard someone yelling at us. It was a man, around 50 years old, very ugly and even more than that drunk. He raised his bottle at us and started crossing the dirt road on our direction. Some local people who saw that got him and dragged him back to the stairways where he was sitting before. We moved on to the store but we couldn't find anything there so we continued to the black market.

Moron streets were bad enough so you can imagine the black market over there. Right on the entrance to the market we heard some dog crying and then we so the dog running out of the market while some other drunk moron is kicking him. All that we wanted is to finish our shopping as soon as possible and get out of there. After 10 minutes we got out of the market and went back to the car, getting the same looks again but now with an extra of "I want your grocery bags too".

Moron was terrible, and I swear they were all morons, but a few days after on the way back we had to go through Moron again. The sky were still red and cloudy, the people were still morons and wanted to smash our heads but this time no one actually tried that.

Wild beasts outside the tent on our first night of camping

It's the first night, we go to sleep in the tent. Not too easy to fall asleep in a tent after you are used to a big bad in a room with air conditioning. It's pretty cold in Mongolia even though it is only August. The days are very warm but at night you can feel that winter is arriving. At some point I fell asleep. I don't know how long I slept but after some time I woke up cause I was hearing weird sounds from outside the tents. It sounded like some animal was kicking the tent. I raised my head and looked at Rami and Shlomit, they both woke up. What is it? I asked. Might be some wild beast, maybe wolfs, Rami said.

We were pretty scared. I got my pocket knife in my hand. Didn't quite know what I'm gonna do with it but thought it's still a good idea. I started thinking to myself, man that was obvious, what the hell were you thinking? This is nature, there are wolfs in Mongolia! The "beast" continued kicking the tent gently, as if it was trying to understand what's in it, and then we heard another sound. I think it's a horse, I said. Well, it might step on me, I was thinking, since it was kicking my side of the tent. Well, it might be, whatever... said Rami, and then we all decided to go to sleep.

It took me a while but I managed to go to sleep. The next morning we told this to Tegshe, the guide, and he started laughing at us, city boys, saying that it was a horse and of course there was nothing to be afraid of...

Sometimes, when you change environment, especially if it is a radical change, you find out that some of the things you learned in life and helped you getting around in your natural environment are not valid for the new place, and in tha t new place you have to learn some basic things from scratch, just like a little kid, in order to to find your way.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Tegshe & Wire'e (the guide and the driver)

It's about time to tell you about these guys...

Tegshe

Tegshe, the guide, is 21 years old. We met him in the train station right after arriving to Ulaan-Bataar. Many people came to us and offered us a guesthouse or tour services, but I had to pick Tegshe. I picked him only because his look - he was dressed in the most bizarre way you can imagine, a jeans with knee holes, like back in the early 90's, a normal t-shirt and... a tie! He also had a well designed Mohawk on his head which made him look a bit more ridiculous. I just thought to myself, man, this is the right guy!

But when we went to the country side and our trip started he changed his outfit radically. From now on he would only wear the same clothes all the time - a Russian army jacket, Russian army trousers, USSR t-shirt, high army boots and a pair of huge knives hanging on his belt. When I asked him if he was pro-Russian, he said he hates the Russians. When I tried to explain that it does not make any sense, he replied that he was wearing these clothes so that the children would know about Mongolia's history with the Russian and would hate them too. Now that's a real patriot...

Tegshe was the group leader, which basically means that he was giving us orders and we would follow them most of the time. He was a bit militant I'd say. But he was also a fun guy and a pretty good cook. We had a couple of traditional wrestling sessions with him and he kicked our asses even though he was a skinny fellow.

Tegshe had another hobby besides wrestling, he liked killing animals and little bugs. He was very much into fishing but we kind of enjoyed that I guess. But besides fishing he was killing almost any grasshopper that crossed his way, butterflies, mosquitoes, small bugs, big bugs and any kind of bug that exists in Mongolia. He also told us he likes hunting, as if that one wasn't obvious.

Wire'e (the next "Han")

Wire'e was just the opposite of Tegshe'e. He was over 40, a bit chubby, and looked like a sweet father. He was also into fishing but he was very calm about it and just enjoyed standing by the water and starring at the river. He almost spoke no English but still we managed to have a few nice conversations with him. Long time ago he studied "Economical-engineering" and tried to do that for some time, but it wasn't paid enough (less than a $100 a month) so somehow he found himself working as a driver, getting paid well and enjoying the fishing and the company.

Wire'e had an original phrase of his own, in English: "Oh yes!". Since his English wasn't really there, he used this phrase most of the time, sometimes to let you know that he understood what you were saying and sometimes just for no reason. After a while we got caught up with this phrase and we couldn't stop using the "oh yes!" our selves. We fell in love with Wire'e and decided that we would like to see him as the next "han" (king), like the former Jighiss Han. I decided that when I get back home I will take one of his photos and use it to make a t-shirt with his face and the famous line "oh yes!" and we will then start the campaign that will get him the "Han" title. Oh yes!

"Shimshon and Yovav"

Fishing and laughing, laughing and fishing, that's about all that these two did. In the famous "Pinokiyo" story they had two funny characters, the cleaver fox and the funny fat cat. In Israel their names were "Shimshon & Yovav". One day it hit me that Tegshe and Wiree were just like these funny characters. Tegshe was of course the fox that always had the plan and Wire'e was just following his orders without arguing.

Most of the places they took us were rivers or lakes. So that they can fish. They had a passion for fishing and most of the time they did well. In cases that they weren't doing to well, Wire'e would just come back to the camp and play cards with us, while Tegshe spend another hour or two before he admits his defeat.

I can say now that this couple gave us some good time and we enjoyed traveling with them. And any of you that ever lose his mind and decides to go to Mongolia, please contact me and I'll give you their details so you can contact them.

On our next episode: "Wild beasts outside the tent on our first night of camping"

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Ride in the Russian Van

So we got a Russian van. But what is a Russian van you might be wondering?

Well.. it is a van.. but.. Russian. Which means that it is not like any other car you have ever known before. I guess it had all of the Russian characteristics - tough, reliable and makes no sense to anyone that is not Russian. It seems like they've been producing this car for a few centuries cause it is just so good, and it is. The outside of the van reminds the old 60's Volkswagen van, but instead of the lovely colors and flowers on that German brother this one just wears a military olive green color. How militant.

We spent so many hours in the car, jumping on bumpy roads, feeling nauseous 90% of the time and hitting our heads every minute or two. And I'm talking about 4-10 hours for a typical ride. Mongolia is just huge. I became so tired during those rides, starring through the window like a zombie, not digesting anything from the scenery. The bad smell was getting worse and worse every day because of the food at the back and the garbage adding up. We also had a permanent problem with some gasoline licking and burning our lungs. Some times it was a real nightmare to sit in that car but somehow I made it without throwing up not even once. Oh yes.

But there were also some good sides to these rides. We had some stops :)

And I don't just mean any stops, I mean stops to take photos of eagles, camels, yaks and some great mountains. Another kind of stops that became typical was the holy places. In Mongolia they have this really cool thing that they can just pick a spot for whatever unknown reason and decide that it is sacred. To mark that the wrap the whole area with some wood branches and blue ribbons and that's it. It is sacred. And if you ever dare to touch it or break it, you'll have billions of people rushing at you from any spot in Mongolia, putting you deep in the ground and wrapping the whole area with some really nasty colored ribbons. At least that's what the guide told me. Did I tell ya already how easily they get offended?

In the car we also had some good times, with good music, good humor, some good sleep and then.. oops.. flat tire! We had 3 of them during the whole trip and numerous technical problems, but somehow we always managed to continue after a short while, mostly thanks to our experienced driver.

So that's it as for the Russian van. On our next episode: "Tegshe & Wir'ee" or in some normal words - our guide and driver, two real characters :)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Nature Life

So... it's been a long time... and many things have happened so it will take me a couple of times to update ya with all the Mongolia story. Let me just start from were I stopped last time for a small detail I forgot to add in, and then we can start the story as it is supposed to be told.

The evening before we left for the countryside we met another Israeli guy who came to our guesthouse, Avner. Avner just arrived from India after traveling for over 9 months. He immediately decided to join us for the trip. Very cool. Now let's start.

The Nature Life

As for Mongolia, I will tell stories and details from the whole period, and not necessary in any chronological order. I will start with the most basic thing, being in nature - shower!

Showers

In 21 days I took 3 showers. One of them was in a nearly frozen lake. But I can say that at some point you just don't care anymore and you don't smell your own stink. In fact, you only smell it AFTER taking a shower and trying to wear the same clothes. Only then you realise that you've been wearing the same clothes for a week and that they stink just like the traditional clothes of the Mongolian you were laughing about.

Hair

For the first 2 weeks I didn't wash my hair. I got to the point that I almost had dreadlocks and had to decide if to comb my hair now or never. I combed it. And lost half of my hair in that battle.

Weather

It was cold. Not as cold as I imagined (meaning not minus 20), but it was cold. One morning when we were sleeping in a Ger (a Mongolian nomad house) instead of our tent, we woke up and found the bottle of oil completely frozen. I don't know if oil freeze at the same point as water but I guess it means that it was cold enough. It rained a lot at nights but was very hot during the days. A few of the nights we got some water through our tent but it wasn't that bad cause we were to tired to notice or to care.

Space

In Israel I was living in a private house, 2 floors, 4 rooms and a garden. Here I had a tiny tent which I was sharing with 2 more people, and I tell ya this - if you have nature as your home in the day you don't need more than that at night. I mean, what the hell did I need all that in Israel?? I guess that over there it is just different cause the outside is never yours and therefore your house is the only space that is really only yours. Sure, you can say that nature isn't really yours as well, but I swear, here in Mongolia it is. You can walk in the countryside for an hour and not meet any human being. Could you do it anywhere in Israel and not get to a road after 5 minutes?

Food and cooking

We cooked a lot. And I have to say I was surprised with the quality! I used to cook a lot and in the last couple of months with my Mom in the hospital before she died I just didn't have the time or power to do it. In Mongolia I fell in love with cooking once again. Rami was a good cook too and our guide and driver were great cooks also. Shlomit was also good with the pasta so we had some good food. Also, since both our driver and our guide were addicted to fishing, we had a lot of fish. Oh yes! On the other side, while trying to eat in restaurants along the way we found out that the Mongolian food is built from mainly one dish - potato noodles with mutton! So we had to pick between the mutton for our noodles since me, Avner and Shlomit are veggies who eat fish.
Mongolians also have a national drink called "Airag". It is horse milk that comes in two variations - basic, which is served warm like tea, and alcoholic which can be mixed with vodka as a cocktail. It tastes OK but after a couple of times you don't want to see it ever again. Mainly cause it is served everywhere. Another odd drink is the salted tea, which is normal tea but with salt instead of sugar. I just convinced my self that it is soup and drank it. I mean, I had to cause Mongolian countryside people get offended for almost everything. So sensitive you can hardly believe that these guys once ruled over both China and Russia, 2 countries populated with some really tough bastards :)

Water

In the beginning, like any fresh tourist, we were afraid to drink the water without boiling them and purifying them with our magic pills, but after a couple of days we started drinking water from just about anywhere - small rivers, big rivers and lakes. The water in Mongolia's lake and rivers are just so good. The big lake "Hofsgol" in the north has top quality water and contains 2% of the world's pure water. So we had no worries about water.

Day dreaming about food

Indeed I said that the food that we cooked was surprisingly good, but still, many times we found our selves talking about some good restaurants in Israel, tasty meals we had and, and, of course, the best Houmos places we've been to in Israel :) A typical conversation would go like that: "hmm... I really feel like eating Falafel..." and someone would say: "oh yes the Falafel near my house is the best!" and another: "No, no, believe me nothing is good like the Falafel in Ra'anana! hmm..." and then: "guys! the crappy pasta is ready!"

Well guys, that's it for now, I have a lot to tell and I hope I can manage to write it all, that was only chapter one, see ya soon in chapter two: "The ride in the Russian van"

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Isra-Mongo deal and how we almost died

Well.. just 2 days in Mongolia.. who would ever believe what I’m about to tell??

Let me start from where I stopped last time.

The first night in Ulaan Bataar we decided to go out. After all what I’ve heard from people laughing about Mongolia’s UB city and what can or can’t be done there, I have to say that I found a very cool city that has almost everything to offer to a western - everything but a veggie meal.

The city is awake 24 hours a day. It means you have 24 hr banks, restaurants, pubs, clubs and kiosks. I mean hey, even Tel Aviv doesn’t have all that!
So we went out to a pool place, all three of us. In UB pool is everywhere, even in normal building in the suburbs. We got on a cab with another one of the numerous crazy drivers going in this place. To make it short I would only want to mention the fact that I won a game against Mongolia’s pool champion! Well… maybe he wasn’t that but he was still the best player I’ve ever played against. And I won J

The morning after we went to do some shopping. Like in China it is very cheap and with a great verity of products. We only got some small stuff. And now to the first part of this chapter.

Part 1 - The Isra-Mongo deal

At some point of our wondering in the city we got to some building, looking for a copy machine. Suddenly one guy around 40 years old approached us and said in Hebrew “what are u looking for?” We had a small conversation and he told us his name is Dudu and that he’s been working here for 8-9 months. We decided to meet him for dinner.

We met at 19:00 and he took us some Irish pub with good western food. I think after like 30 minutes we all got to the inevitable conclusion that this guy was completely fucked up. He told us that he’s been trying to do business here for 8 or 9 months but with no great success. He blah-blahed with his stupid ideas to the point where almost fell asleep. Among his “wonderful” ideas he wanted to import to Mongolia “Bamba” (!!!)

At some point he stared at us with the most stupid look and asked: “do you know anything about airport radars?” You can guess what our answer was. For some reason he decided it is still fine that we don’t know shit about it and so he told us that the Mongolians are looking for a new radar for their UB airport. We hmm-hmmed him as we did with almost everything he talked about. He tried to convince him to help him with this deal. “Israeli radars are the best!” he said. “You don’t need to know anything about radars,” He promised, “just ask them some questions that I’ll give you and then a friend of mine will recommend them to buy it from Israel… big money my friends! Big money!”

He even dared and called “his contact” and set a meeting for us for 10:00 tomorrow morning. The morning after, we called him and told him to have a nice life.

Part 2 – “how we almost died”

At the same day we met Dudu we also got our tent and some of the equipment we needed for our planned trip. At night we thought about going out but right before we went out Shlomit said she is too tired and she wants to sleep. Rami and I decided to still go for a walk and find something to do. On the way out I told Rami “You know women and their intuition.. if Shlomit decided not to join us it means that something bad is going to happen tonight”.

We went to look for a pub but none of those we saw was interesting so we went to the internet place to check our mail. After that we went to one of the 24 hr restaurants where I had to struggle again to get a veggie meal and ended up with a microscopic plate of cabbage salad. We went out and got in a taxi.

The taxi dropped us on the main road where only 50 meters of dirt road were between us and our hostel. We walked into the dirt road. It was 3 at night. Suddenly a car stopped on the main road 15 meters from us and they called us. Rami, against any reasonable thinking, decided to run to that car to see what they want. As he was running I called him “Rami! Don’t go there!” But he did. I can say now that he did all the worst mistakes a tourist can do in a dark alley at the middle of the night when two guys call you from a car. He was standing to close to the car and tried to understand what they want. I called him “Rami come!” every 5 seconds but he ignored that. At some point he looked at me and called “I don’t understand what they want!” I yelled at him to come and he finally came. We started walking fast and the car started to go after us into the alley. Some people came from the other side so I guess it scared the 2 guys in the car and they stopped. We went faster. After the people disappeared from the street, the driver hit the gas and drove towards us. He hit the brake and spun the car right in front of us. We started running to the opposite direction and he was chasing us until we turned left into some dark garden. We went around the building and snuck into our hostel. We were safe again.

Mongolian men at night get really drunk and violent. We knew that, but didn’t believe. Now we do believe.

Now it’s up to you if you believe all that. I swear it all happened in one day. Mongolia rocks! J

Btw, today in the morning we decided to finally go to our trip. It is 21 days around Mongolia in a jeep, including horse tracks, sleeping in gers and having lots of fun!

I am excited.

Take care y’all and if I bother anyone please let me know and I’ll take you off my list.

Kobbie

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mongolia.. Lovely Mongolia

Well.. I'm in Mongolia.

Oh yes I am.

Let me start from where I stopped..

We got up early in the morning (early, but not quit on time) to get ready for the train. We planned to leave at 6:45 and therefore at 7:05 we left our room and found Tim (! the American guy that I forgot his name last time). He was waiting for us, pissed off that we are late, but hey, he is American :)

We went quickly to the Metro and got on the one that goes to the train station (“Beijing Jan” in Chinese). We run down the stairways and got to the train while they were about the close the door. We got on it. Tim was upset anyway :)

We got separate cabins and all of us got the top beds. I was in a cabin with some Chinese family – grandma, grandpa, a mother and daughter. They all went to sleep besides the girl who were with one eye open checking me and giving me the look of “I know u are going to kill me and my family”. For 30 minutes I tried to smile and be nice so that she falls asleep with no worries and let me go to sleep with a good feeling. It didn’t work. So I gave her the look of “You are right, I AM a killer, a damn good one too”. I can’t really say if it worked well… She tried to wake her Mom and when that didn’t work out she jumped down and went to sleep with her grandpa on the bottom bad. I guess it did work. I fell asleep.

After a couple of hours of sleeping I think the girl decided to take her revenge. She started crying and yelling “Mommy! Mommy wake up!” She did that every 30-40 minutes until I just had to wake up and get out of there. Merde! Never mess up with little girls, they have really loud voice.

This train wasn’t the Trans-Mongolian train but just some other train, but it was great, in good condition and with a very positive destination – “Arlyan”. Arlyan is the border city between Mongolia and China. The train station over there was amazing. It looked so unreal and well designed, but you couldn’t help the thought that it was really in the middle of no where!

As always, me and Rami – 2 professional trouble makers, decided to play outside the station with a ball. We played throw and catch and almost killed a few people and a light pole.

We found out that we don’t need to spend the night there and that if we go into the station maybe we can get some tickets for the train leaving in 3 hours. As before we got lucky and we got 4 of the last 7 tickets. This time, me Rami and Tim (which became less and less friendly) got on the same cabin with an old Chinese guy, while Shlomit got on a separate cabin with a fat gold-wearing Mongolian guy named “mogi”. He was the perfect description of a Mongolian Ars.

Well, that was the second time that Shlomit gets screwed with some weird guy in one room. The first time was when we where in Beijing in the “Fay-Yieng” hostel. Me and Rami took a normal double room (yes we are spoiled), while Shlomit was staying in a dormitory with like 6 other people. One of them was a crazy, weirdo guy from Iran. Yes, I said Iran. He didn’t look anything close to a typical Iranian guy. He had long hair, weird look in his eyes, a beard and was over 40 I think. Among the many weird things he did, he approached Shlomit right in her face, touched his forehead and showed her all the sweat he had there and said: “so hot outside, look how much I sweat.” He also caught her on the way out the morning after and told her “I saw your friends, they have Jewish faces, I know they are Jewish”. He was weird, period. At some point it struck Shlomit – they guy is a terrorist / spy. “What else would he do in Beijing?” said Shlomit, “He is planning a big terror act for the Olympics in 2008!”

Well… I find it hard to believe but even if that’s the case, I wish him a very sticky, smelly and full of shilshul 3 years :)

Anyways, back to the train. Mogi, the other weird guy turned out to be really cute and harmless, but still, I am sure he was carrying about $100,000 worth of drugs. Well a job is a job and a Mogi’s gotta do what a Mogi’s gotta do. We hade a very nice ride with the greatest view I’ve ever seen. Mongolia’s view is just amazing. After a barely noticed 14 hours ride we got to Ulaan Bataar (UB) the capitol.

In the train station we got invitations to 3 or 4 different hostels. I convinced Rami and Shlomit to chose the young guy with gel on his her and a tie on an absolutely normal shirt that wasn’t designed to carry a tie. The guy’s name was “Tegshek”. To make it easier to remember I changed it to “take shit”. Mongolian people in UB know some English so it is easier than in China. We told him that we will come to his place later and went to eat lunch.

We found a place called “Fast Food’. A very convincing name. The food was great and I’m still with no need for meat. After that we called “take shit” and asked him to pick us to the “hostel”. He came after 3 minutes as promised and drove like a maniac to the place. It wasn’t a hostel. It’s was his house where he lives with his girlfriend. But it was still good enough.

So, we are in Mongolia, a dream became reality. I know it’s only Ulaan Bataar but something in the air here is different.

Anyway, until last time, take care ya all. Miss you already.

Kobbie

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sooooo much to tell

It's been only 3 days in Beijing and so much happend... Well, we got to beijing Saturday morning and got into the shock of our life... We really thought it would be a piece of cake, but Chinese cakes are with no chocolate, so this piece of cake got stuck right in the middle of our throuts!

For start, no one, but NO ONE, talked any English - including taxi drivers. After 30 minutes of trying to explain to many drivers that we need a certain hotel, we decided to tell them just any hotel but that didn't work out as well. I think it took more than an hour but we finally got on a car. A car, not a cab(!)

Some guy (that was standing and laughing at ask when we talked to those drivers...) decided to take us for a great amountof money, and great here does not mean great :) We got to Beijing to the stadium, where we were told we would find a hotel. Let my do it quick - after.. 8 or 9 hours with our bags on us, 56 people who didn't understand our English, 5 or so people who tried to help but gave us false information, 1 unsuccessful phone call, 60 kilometers by foot, 40 liters of sweat, 16 times it rained, 36 degrees weathe, 2,456 bad words we used to get our anger out, 2 took-took drivers who lied to us and took us to a restaurant, claiming it is a hotel and a billion of Chinese people starring at us and laughing - we finally got to a hotel. A very expensive hotel.

At night, after a relaxing shower we met our first partner to Mongolia - Shlomit. We talked before in Israel and we fially met that night. Shlomit knows some Chinese so from that moment we started to get by easily. She it a very nice 22 yo girl, which it traveling in China for 5 months already.

The morning after we went to the forbidden city. We didn't get in cause it was too busy and we didn't really care about it anyway. China is very hot right now and sooooooo wet. You sweat like a pig to the point that you don't care anymore and you walk outside totally wet, wiping your face with your wet shirt infront of everyone and it is perfectly fine.

One more thing about Beijing is the smell. It is a terrible mixture of sweat, meat of all kinds, oil, oil and oil! The Metro is the worst! But you get used to it.

We continued the day with some shopping. Beijing is THE place to shop! So many malls, markets and stores, and sooo many things to buy at cheap prices.
We bought some small stuff but Shlomit (a shopping addict) bought all the merchant of Beijing :)

The sales people and any other person we met are very kind and friendly, even though most of them speak no English at all. That's why I'm already starting to learn Chinese :)

At night we went to meet the second partner for Mongolia at her hostel. On the way, in some small street, we saw a guy burning the furr of a dead dog, to get him ready for cooking. It was a Korean restaurant the sell dogs as food. Oh yes.

The second partner, Michal, told us today morning that she decided not to join us. Some fucked up guy named Mako (also known as "the Israeli Captain" :)) told her that Mongolia is bad and that she shouldn't go. Oh well.

At noon we went to the train station to get the tickets to Mongolia. We met an American guy (merde i can't remember his name) who deiced to join us for Mongolia. We got the LAST 4 tickets for tomorrow's train. It is a 13 hours ride to the border. After that we will spend there the night and take another 15 hours traing from the border to Ulan Bataar, the capitol. It is soooo close right now that I can smell it :) Oh shit, I am still in Beijing, I should hold my breath again.

So What have I learned so far?
1. Always know where you are going and prepare to it in advance
2. Never pack too much stuff (I throwed half of my stuff after the lousy day one
3. Sweating like a pix is really ok
4. Chinese people are cool
5. I like to bargain and get the price to 3% of the original price (I bought a tie for 10 Yuan after the woman asked for 388
6. Chinese food rocks

So.. that's it for now - take care ya all!

Kobbie

Friday, August 12, 2005

I am in Bangkok!

This is my stop between flights and like every dedicated person I am updating my blog :)

We had a nice flight to Bangok and Rami was a very good and quiet(!!) boy.. ya.

We are now in Bangok, which is a nice place but very western and not unique. Our flight to Beijing is in a few hours so here I am.

Well.. that's it for now - take care.

Kobbie

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

והנה ניסיון בעברית...

כן.. כן.. אפשר גם בעברית - אז תהנו

One more day.. just one!!












Mongolia here I come!

Here I will try to post some updates and photos. Keep in touch through the comments and my email.

Voila, Kobbie