Day 23: Kharkhorin to Ulaanbaatar
I frustratingly woke up to my brother Jamie knocking at my ger at 6:15 am despite the plan being to meet at 8am for breakfast. Despite today supposed to be a day for sleeping in he diced to knock at my door because he thought I said I wanted to go for a walk in the morning (which I definitely didn’t express wanting to do at all). To make things worse when I checked the door he wasn’t there. It was only again at 6:30am when he knocked again and walked away from the ger that I saw it was himself and expressed my frustration. He came back about 15 minutes and then banged on the side of my ger asking to come in. Frustrated and certain he wouldn’t stop unless I did I let him and he woke up Kim.
I spent the time before breakfast thinking about how much I wish I was home. With Dizzy having their album release party today and then playing a record store the next day it killed me to be missing these shows. On top of this, a video chat with Shantel just made me miss her more and wish I could be home with her. And then, of course, there is cycling. This time away has been the longest stretch of time I’ve gone without riding since I think 2008. I miss riding so much.
We spent the vast majority of the day driving. It was uncomfortable and not particularly exciting since it was pretty much all the scenery we’d seen already. We also saw a roadkill cow and horse which was pretty sad. About 1/3 of the way through the trip we made a stop by some sand dunes which were nice to see. We all walked around for a little while and then Dave took a short camel ride. It didn’t interest any of the rest of us.
Around 1pm we stopped by a roadside restaurant to get lunch. Tugi ordered for us and again I ended up without a vegan meal. I hid my frustration, but I was pretty annoyed since it’s happened multiple times now. I don’t know if it was the fault of the restaurant or if he didn’t explain things clearly enough, but in any case, I ended up having to wait for a new meal to come. The food itself was okay but very oily.
Once we finished eating we continue the long drive to Ulaanbaatar. Traffic getting into the city was awful and it felt like it was taking forever. We asked Tugi if we might be able to reschedule our cultural show and big dinner out until tomorrow which fortunately was doable. There was some confusion then about dinner tonight and what the rest of tomorrow would look like for us all. It appeared there was some kind of big disconnect between what Tugi knew about the trip schedule and what was organized and paid for in advance with the company. This lead to some conflict and dispute about how to go forward with the evening and next day.
Eventually, we figured it out and made a plan to get picked up tomorrow at 11:30am. We then all went to our rooms to rest for a bit before taking a walk to the state department store and a few other nearby shops. Here I was able to get the key chain for my co-worker and the others picked out a few souvenirs.
After going to the department store and couple other shops to look around we made our way back to the hotel for dinner. From here the evening turned into a very emotional night as we were all feeling exhausted and stressed out. For the sake of everyone’s privacy, I won’t go into the details, but will simply say it was a pretty challenging and insightful night.