Day 38: Ger camp at its best

We started off the day with a loooong ride ahead of us. Our aim was to reach the city of Kharkhorum (the former Mongolian capital at Dshingis Khan times) that is the place with the most important Buddhist temples in Mongolia and has a lot of ger camps for backpacking tourists just like us. Again, we were pleasantly surprised by a few miles of European-quality highways before we had to decide (after another goat meat lunch) whether we went the shorter way (less fun to drive on) or the way that had asphalt roads but was 50 km longer. After an autocratic rather than democratic decision we decided to go for the dirt road. This shows how democracy might not be so bad, overall.

10 km into the more and more moist valley, we found ourselves stuck in the mud. Sascha managed to destroy the back bumber of one of the cars while getting stuck, as a fact. We tried to pull it out with the other car just to realize that this car could barely make it out of the mud itself. Then the great moment arrived when we (almost) tried out our winch. While the five consultant looked at the manual, a local with a better equipped car (one of those rather huge Toyota Land Cruisers with 4WD) approached to help. Within seconds, he managed to pull out the car without his whells even spinning. He happily accepted a box of Turkish delight (the stuff that we bribed the Turkmen police with) and we could continue.

When we got lost (there are a lot of crossroads by Mongolian standards), we asked some locals for directions. Bad idea. They were just having a picnic with cold and fatty goat leg and Ayrak. Don’t try Ayrak ever in your life unless it really depends on it. It’s fermented goat milk and tastes like the milk that you forgot in your fridge 5 months ago. It also has about 4% of alcohol in it which explains why the guy was drunk in the middle of the day…

When we got to Kharkhorum (the cars did survive despite Matthias’ violent attempt to get rid of the roof rack when driving through a small river with 40 km/h), we finally found a ger camp that wasn’t “fully booked” (fully booked in Mongolian means they’re just too lazy to walk you to a ger and open the door for you – they were all deserted). After we cooked a nice instant noodle meal with the rest of our barbeque gas, the three Kazakh owners of the place came into our ger for a chat. Two of them were wasted. Like really, really wasted. It took us about two hours to get rid of them while they repeatedly expressed their sympathy for a small Austrian that used to run Germany a couple of decades ago. Very uncomfortable situation…

Finally, Serge and his Austrian friends found their way to the camp, too. We shared a couple of beers and laid the foundation for a couple of extremely fun nights in Ulan Bator with Serge. The next day we were ready to make it to our final destination. Check, if we made it…

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