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Mongolia Rainbow Horse Caravan

So, I'm in the Wellington airport flying out of New Zealand to Ulaanbataar in about 12 hours, where I'll meet up with a couple of friends and a bunch of people I've only met on the internet.

Then I'm going to buy a very big animal whose wellbeing I'll be responsible for, and hopefully will be okay with carrying me around.

Feels pretty surreal.

STAY TUNED.

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Left on a cross-country bike tour a few years ago, never came back.
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Tude

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Wow very cool! And even better meeting up with internet travelers as well. And yes - pics!! Don't think I've heard mention of anyone going to Mongolia (at least that I remember). Have fun!!


<edit> no scratch that - I searched for Mongolia and there have been some people traveling through there - cool!!
 
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Wawa

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After a harrowing day in Beijing, I've made it to Ulan Bator!

I got a nice condenced "Welcome to China" experience, including being stacked in a bus like cordwood, groped, sent to and held in immigration, shoved around and yelled at by security, aggressively pursued by taxi drivers and trinket hawkers, all while trying to manuever my two flimsy cardboard boxes from one giant megaterminal to an even larger giant intergalactic spaceport megaterminal without destroying their luggage holding capacity.

Now that I'm not in China, I feel awesome.

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TOO MUCH STUFF.

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In terminal 3, there is a train to take you from customs to security. Because it's crazy giant huge like that.

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Cool stuff in Beijing airport.

Had a huge scare when a french woman told me that she was denied a boarding pass, Mongolia changed its visa waiver list and cut off most countries. So she had to go on an epic mission to post shops copy shops and embassies, China transit visa running out, unable to read any of the addresses, given counterfeit money and left stranded, unable to communicate with anyone BUT SOMEHOW SUCCEDED and got a same day visa and was back to catch the next flight. I don't think I could do it. Fortunately I got through - US citizens still get visa waived, but I was shitting bricks to the last minute.

BTW throwing up in airplane bathrooms with a line outside sucks.

To be fair, Beijing airport had a few cool things, like staff that let you sleep peacefully on tables and benches, beer vending machines, and hot water dispensers everywhere.
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Next post oughta actually be about Mongolia...
 
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Wawa

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A few days in now and I'm living in a Ger in the outskirts of Ulan Bator with my friends. The district is a patchwork dusty maze of square fenced plots climbing up the hills, white gers and colorful roofs, humped dirt roads. There is a community well and shower, a shop with a computer access room. When the wind stops the air here smells like burning plastic. It's still beautiful, even here in the city.
 
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Wawa

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Been picking fruit in New Zealand for months.

Once you are in Mongolia, everything is pretty cheap. We also have people hosting us in Ulan Bator while we get our shit together...

After a few days of hardcore adulting, we have almost all our horse and camp gear together and should be heading out to the countryside to build seed camp and buy horses tomorrow evening!
 
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Dude this is amazing. What did you tell Chinese and Mongolian customs ?
 
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The big crazy market of Ulan Bator, Naran Tool; called The Black Market by most foreigners.
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We spent a lot of time here, first for fancy mongolian clothes, leggings and gloves and scarves made from yak and camel wool, then for the serious gear: a cookpot for 10, halters, bridles, hobbles, a mountain of saddle pads, bulk grain, repair materials.

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Fun stuff

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Fun stuff

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More fun stuff

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Serious stuff

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Also, horsemeat and camel hump skewers.
 
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This is Mongolian money. They have no coins, and nine paper bills that mostly look pretty similar. 1 USD = 2000 MNT, so the largest bill is equal to ten bucks. Cash on hand runs into the millions pretty quickly, and making change fast is an acquired skill.

Anything made locally is very cheap, and a lot of imports from asia/europe are too. My favorite beer is less then $1, a yak wool scarf, or a really good meal, or taxi rides across the city all range around $5.

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Few people speak english, but anyone selling anything has a calculator to show prices. Ordering prepared food is always kind of a surprise, packaged food is a bit of guesswork, too...even stuff with english packaging doesn't always tell you much.

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It's actually super sour fermented camel milk.

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Milk bread and hercules tea, I guess?

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Is this really a thing?
 
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Our first trip out of Ulan Bator, to the town of Tsenkhermendal. We spent a night at the home and restaurant of the family of our friend and incredibly helpful contact in Mongolia, Gangi..

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The town felt like an outpost on the moon, surrounded by sky and steppe, sand storms, motorbikes on wide dirt roads, nomads on horseback stopping by, big modern buses with flashing LEDs. There were enormous crows and eagles everywhere, perched on rooftops and fenceposts, waiting for cafe leavings..

In the morning we helped her family plant 4000 trees out in the steppe. The ones that survive the harsh conditions will be transported to forests or landscaping in Ulan Bator.

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Daylight here goes on nearly to 10pm, so we also had time to "help" build a ger in the families back yard. It only takes two people easily to set up a ger, but a clump of clueless foreigners can definately make it harder.

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We slept in the newly built ger, and the next morning made plans. We had intended originally to buy horses from friends of the family, but conflicts in the group; namely, making unintentional promises to two parties, all came to a head and the only way to keep the group together was to purchase horses elsewhere... leading to several of us going out to see the horses that had been caught and kept for us, and trying to back out with some grace. The horses were beautiful, the family expected us to buy them, and I felt like shit over it.

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The horses we almost had.

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This kid!
 
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badass. horse packing. good luck. I'm gonna subscribe
 

Rob Nothing

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So young looking, you guys. I'm assuming it's your friend's family that invited you guys out there?

Digging the middle east chic. Looks fun. Your updates are always stunning and original.. will be curious to see how far these kids stick it out with eachother. Should start a serious blog, lady. Peace.
 
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