Just left Ulan Bator (LT 09.12) (Sun) 16 May 2010

Ulan Bator is the capital and largest city in Mongolia.

We have been repeatly told about thieves in Mongolia, so we were extra careful.

It seems to make sense too. There were lots of touts on the platform, and unlike the stationary stand-and-wait hawkers in Russia, these guys are quite pushy, coming up to us and waving postcards at us. One guy even held up a small strip of paper, on with was neatly typed a sentence along the lines of: I have a wife and three children. I am very poor…

We stayed close to the entrances to our carriage, with the attendants adamantly repeating, again, to watch our things. I didn’t want to doubt them, since they go on this trip about once a month and must’ve had to deal with passengers’ stuff disappearing. So I hung about nervously clutching my bag, and Vanessa decided not to stroll too far from the door. In the end, we got so much hassle from the postcard sellers we just retreated back onto the train.

Most of the people in our carriage got off here. Not surprising, as this is another one of the most popular stops here. I’d thought about spending a night, or a few nights in Ulan Bator, but I wasn’t confident about my ability of negotiating Mongolia on my own. :( 

Even the Stinky Russians next door got off! Yay!

Oh, but only after they’ve gotten off did I find out they weren’t actually Russians, but Belarusians! My apologies to Russians all round. ;)

J & V and I waited nervously to see if anyone would board (which is fine) and share our rooms (which is not fine). But in the end, only a Mongolian family with a cute little girl got on and they settled into the room next to mine. Woopee! We still have our rooms to ourselves!

[558km into Mongolia]

The landscape looks harsh. Empty yellowish plains as for as the eye can see.

A small group of cows. No shepherd though.

A small group of horses. Skinny.

A pair of enormously big birds with long legs. They look like peacocks, but without the extravagant tail. Only the two of them, walking in the sand. This place is seriously eerie.

Taken from the end window of the very last carriage...

As if to prove to us the harshness of the land, I started passing time by counting bodies:

A dead cow/horse. Body intact and complete.

A dead cow/horse with a baby equivalent next to it. Still complete.

A dead big bird.

A skeleton of a cow/horse. The head is still complete.

A dead cow/horse skeleton, with a complete baby next to it. Why? Did the baby stay with the mum and died a long time after from thirst and starvation?

Then more skeletons in various stages of disintegration.

Looks like a hard, harsh life out there. All the above were seen within the space of just 5 – 10 mins.


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