Recent trip to the lovely village of Erdenetsogt proved delightful. Arrived Friday night after surviving a trip in a small yellow Korean bus over rather flooded roads which required the driver and assistants to leave the bus, throw stones into the river, and then drive over this newly created underwater "road". A normally less-than-an-hour drive turned into an approximately 3 hour adventure when the engine overheated and required deep gulps of water from the river that was causing us so much trouble.
The "doorman" who was in charge of managing the rock throwing and engine problems was otherwise occupied about 80% of the time. On either side of me sat some early 20 looking students likely on their way home for the summer from college (in UB?). Said doorman seemed to know these two ladies and wanted to get to know them better. Lots of slapping ensued without serious injury.
Once in Erdenetsogt the movie marathon began: No Country for Old Men, Rashomon, De-Lovely, and The Departed.
Saturday saw Wally, Leilia and I hiking for about three hours in search of a "forest." Turns out that the forest was a collection of approximately 50 or so trees which, in their defense, were able to provide a little shade. They were not able to quench our thirst or hunger...Super Kontik and Tsuivan over pasta noodles ensued upon arrival home (post blister investigation).
Sunday, the day of rest, was reserved for more movies and seeing the sites of the village, namely, the monastery which the Russians failed to destroy back in the day. Here is Wally with his "I'm-not-from-here-that's-why-I'm-standing-in-front-of-your-temple-like-this" pose.
Stayed up most of the night on Sunday distilling water for the epic walk from Erdenetsogt to Bayankhongor. Questions such as "Will we make it there without yak attacks?". "Which path should we take? The valley or mountain one?", and "Will this water distiller ever finish so we can sleep before we have to get up at 6am?" floated through our minds (or so I am arguing).
Day dawned, much coffee was ingested and we were off to Bayankhongor! Our first stop: two youths on horses wondering what in the world we were doing and reminiscing about the previous Erdenetsogt volunteer. It was about 10 am. The "leader" of the pair was already pleasantly buzzed it seemed. Second stop: an ancient jeep stops, doors open, inquisitive faces peer out, "Do you want a ride?" Ha! Need a ride?! Later investigation revealed that at least one of us wanted to take them up on that offer. I will not mention names. You know who you are.
I may have skipped the snack and dinner stops which were requested by...oh, I don't know...There may have been about 4 such stops. And one nap stop. Maybe requested by the aforesaid person...
But finally, after about 7 hours of walking we saw her! Beautiful Bayankhongor. Excited about this view we decided to swim/float down the river much to the continued indifference of the cows and yaks cooling themselves in our floating path...Our Chili and Egg Salad (capitalized!) had acquired a strange smell. Leilia disposed of them to the accompaniment of much rejoicing.
The Big City greeted us by selling us ice cream, eating my ATM card, and providing elderly women to cut us in line at the bank. The legendary Erdenetsogt to Bayankhongor trip: a small victory for Bayankhongor-volunteer-kind.