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