Signing off on our crazy and yet immensely satisfying Mongolian tour with a shout out for Roger…
Thank you Roger for giving me the courage to stay crazy.
The strength to set uncommon goals.
And the partnership as we achieve those goals.
This picture for ever will enshrine in my mind that craziness, uncommon goals and the partnership …
And thank you Sharmila and Shauna for tolerating all that craziness…
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we bow out of our Mongolian chapter.
We had all the normal goals that you would set for yourself if you were to go to Mongolia – you know the gers, the nomads, the camels, the sand dunes and all that. We did all that and more.
We had another goal for ourselves. Not something you would normally think of. But then again, we are talking about Roger and myself. If it is not quirky, it is not us.
We had a goal of buying a fountain pen from Mongolia!! Both Roger and I write with fountain pens and share a common love for collecting fountain pens.
Calligraphy was originally invented in China and the Mongols had their own variation in their scripts (I am talking about 2000 years back). In fact, we got all our family members’ names written in the old Mongol style in wall hangings that we are bringing back home.
While in USA, after a lot of research, we had found out one shop that claimed to carry fountain pens in Ulanbaatar. You can guess the rest…
We are proud owners of two identical fountain pens from Mongolia!!
Disclaimer: While the pens were bought from Mongolia to add to our libraries, they are not actually made in Mongolia. Nobody makes fountain pens in Mongolia. These are of Turkish origin. So, our bragging rights is “we got them from Mongolia” 🙂
One of the rules Roger had laid down when I was looking for tickets to Mongolia was that for all the down to earth living we were going to have in Mongolia, we have to travel business class to and from there.
This is also Roger’s first international trip in business class. It is fair to say he is suitably impressed. Some of his observations enroute are hilarious..
Sitting next to me on our flight from Istanbul and Bishkek, he looked up to me in between chomping down his smoked salmon and red wine and gave his verdict:
“I think Business Class means never having to worry about starving”!!
To get the context of this post, I have to assume you have read a previous post titled “And he thought he can one up on me” from May 30th.
We were sitting by the Bayanzag cliffs. We had already downed a couple of glasses of wine. So, I may or may not have been talking too much…
Roger, took one long sip from his glass and yelled “WHO-TO”. For a second, I was wondering “what the heck? Is he trying to experiment with echoes in the cliff?”
Then I realized the faux pas he had made with “To Who” before trying to understand how to say “shut up”. (And this is where the context of the previous event helps).
In a few seconds, both Sara and I realized what was going on…
After I had picked myself up from the ground, I asked – “Did you mean, To Who?”.
Anguished by his self inflicted defeat one more time, Roger sheepishly asked “I can’t even recall my mistakes correctly, can I?”
No. You can’t, Roger Whitney.
And that is a good thing about you!!! 🙂
(This lake has over 1000 islands but no outflow)
I think we are going the wrong way here… First we had printed boarding cards. Then, at Dalanzadgad we went to hand written boarding cards. Now, at Bishkek, we have absolutely blank boarding cards. It is not even an unfilled card. It is a completely blank card with the name of the airport.
Pretty strange experience. At Bishkek, transit passengers like us are given a blank card and we have to show that to get back on our plane. Funny part is that at the gate, they take the card and check our passport. Not sure what they were matching our names in the passport to!!!
You see those mean looking clouds? They were the reason why we got delayed by over 13 hours!!!
As you travel through Mongolia, you are bound to see a lot of Ovoos. These are basically some hap hazard piles of stones with some colorful pieces of cloth often attached to them. This particular one that we saw had a lot of cattle skulls lined up on one side.
I understand these are sacred to Mongolians and are pretty common in China too. In Mongolia you will often find them on top of hills, in the middle of desert and pretty much anywhere. Some are small and humble and some are big and elaborate.
Active ceremonies would include spreading rice or milk etc around these Ovoos.
Never knew of them. Learnt another new thing.
As you drive thru the vast lands of Mongolia, you are bound to be struck by an oddity – and that is how their electricity distribution poles look. Without exception, they have a concrete lower portion and then a longer wooden portion that seems to be held together by some ropes or something. For the life of me, I have not been able to understand why. Nobody seems to know why.
On the internet, there are some theories that this is driven by the fact that the frozen ground (during extreme cold weathers) can crack the wood. Which raises the question – why not make the whole thing with concrete then?
I have not been able to solve this yet…