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Unravelling Red Tape

August 4, 2015 0 Comments

A lot’s happened since the rained out day, camping on the river near Ulan Bator.

After the skirmish down south, we decided permits would be a good thing. Eventually we found the Permit Shop in Ulan Bator. No one spoke English and while they were friendly and nice, there was no actual help or progress. But at the entry booth, there was a guy, a civilian, with a heap of forms, who seemed to speak English. He looked like a tour guide, getting a bundle of permits.

So I put on my best Mongol/English, and just to make sure, held onto his t shirt collar, and asked for help. He telephoned his boss, who invited us to his office, which was encouragingly titled Mongolian Expeditions. The boss quickly summed us up, refused payment, sat down with our map and gave us a circuit of Mongolia that required NO permits, and included spots not shown in Lonely Planet. So, no permit required.

Next the Russians.

We’d been to the embassy twice already, and thought we had the documents ready. So, into the consulate we go.

The Komrade would only look at two people at once and the interview with Lynn and I was going perfectly, until he looked at Lynn’s form and asked why she had never worked. (Lynn, for sake of simplicity, left that part blank, as did I). Now, it’s not so much WHAT the Komrade says, it’s actually HOW he says it, and HIS EYES when he says it, that makes you want to pee.

Lynn got flummoxed, I freaked (and he was talking to her!), and Lynn got all the work names mixed up and couldn’t remember the phone numbers. I made them (phone numbers) up for her, sounding full of wisdom.

Then he looked at me and did the same thing, asked why I had not worked for anyone before. Because he accepted Lynn’s scribble, and cross outs, with a little smile, I figured he was just “taking the piss” with us, so I stuck to my story that I was a consulting engineer since Uni. Seemed to work, he took the story. Told us to pick up the visas on August 19, or later. Barry and Donna had a similar interview.

The Plan

The plan is that for the 20 odd days the Russians have our passports, we would travel a loop through the Gobi. With the extra feedback from Mongolian Expeditions, our loop was extended to include the north, away from the permit areas. Then, get back to Ulan Bator, pick up the Russian visas, then go to the Kazahkstan consulate, give our passports to them for a week, and in that period, travel a bit to the north-east and take in some water etc.

So you guys know Mongolia as well as us.

So far…

Mongolia Camping

Making Friends throughout Mongolia!

We left Ulan Bator and headed south. Camped 20km away and ran into the nicest nomad you would ever like to meet. Same age as us, on a well-equipped motor bike, moving horses around. No English, but he understood the word vodka. He freaked when, setting up the roof top, I pulled the bag of steel struts out. He thought they/it was a quiver of arrows and that I had a bow as well. A quick explanation that we were completely unarmed and happy days.

About then a guy turned up in a 4wd. He was wearing a clean, much too small, t shirt and had a gold chain around his neck.

The nomad on the motorbike was by now sitting in one of our chairs, drinking our six dollar vodka and he signaled to me that this bloke was a wanker, which I took to be true when he tried to sell me a dinosaur egg. So we cut the wanker free and concentrated on the nice guy with us.

Barry has a story to tell though, as after the wanker left, he came back! And Barry and him and his other mate, sat around drinking vodks…

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