A Travellerspoint blog

This isn't a Pissing Contest love, its the Chinese Border...

sunny 22 °C

Border pissing contest

There were some Mongolian words and at that her husband who was sat in the front passenger seat gave her a small orange bowl, there were some shuffling around in the Jeep I was in, it was hot and cramped. The husband got out of the car as did the son who was sat in the back with me. There was only me and her left in the car and something was going on, and I had a good idea what it was. I was in a Russian jeep that had its entire interior stripped to its bear metal and to open the door there was a shoe lace probably connected to the door catch. I started yanking at it to get me out and I only managed to escape just as she had begun pulling her knickers down. I wasn’t even in China yet, in fact we were still in no-man’s land, territory between Mongolian and China, having just been stamped out of Mongolia we were waiting in this beat up vehicle to cross into China.

I had decided to go the long way to Beijing by taking local trains rather than the Trans-Siberian. The route is still the same but you have to get off the train in the Mongolian border town of Zamyn-Uud, cross the border yourself in a bus or taxi to the next town or Erlian, China where you pick up the onward train to Beijing. On the Trans-Siberian you do the entire border crossing in the comfort of your train, but I had heard that this border crossing was interesting, so I decided to take a look. So I travelled to Zamyn-Uud cross the border by car or bus as you cant walk across, and then hop on a train on the other side in Erlian. Simple? Not in Central Asia. This border crossing from Mongolia to China has got to go down as one of the most dysfunctional and craziest systems in existence.

I got off the train and it was easy to spot where to go for a lift across the border. I got bundled into a small jeep with about 5 others. We were blocked in from another jeep that had parked directly in front us, no problem, 5 guys rolled it down the road into the back of another idle Jeep. So we set off as if this was whacky races, in the car with 1 Mongol driver and 5 Chinese. The driver we had was a bit of a rookie, quite young but broad if not a little overweight, his peers were all weathered veterans and he was competing with them for business. We shot across a field towards the border where I could see the line of cars and trucks waiting in line to cross the border, giving the false sense that there was some kind of order.

The Russian Jeeps, and there were many, were managed a little bit differently. There was a separate line about 300 yards away from the border, all the Jeeps lined up literally bumper to bumper, shunting each one forward as they smacked into their rear. The drivers would all simultaneously get out of their Jeeps and congregate around a car. Inside the car in the back seat was an Army official, he would see one person at a time and no more. He would be driven back and forth from the border to the line of Jeeps. Each time he arrived the Jeep drivers would get excited. A batch of tickets would be given and then a batch of Jeeps would horse down towards the border for the next step in the saga.

Our Rookie got his pass and I could see his big frame bouncing towards the car, he got in the car and shot to the next point where the cars and jeeps were crammed so tightly together they may as well have been all welded together. All the Jeeps were fighting for space, in a mad frantic rush to get across stealing an inch at a time. Just as we had managed to squeeze our way to the front of the line, the goalposts in this calamity production moved. The new orders were that a single line needed to be formed. But the Jeeps were refusing to move so a big army official began throwing rocks at us, big fooking rocks, he then ran at us and booted the drivers side door in. We moved, but only in a circle, still sniffing at the entrance to the border. A Chinese girl behind me said “Boss is coming” which kind of explained what was happening, they wanted to restore order before the big man saw the carnage. The Jeeps were now circling the Army like a blood thirsty pack of wolves, they were inching forward and then backing off when the rocks would come but they weren’t backing down just yet. Next a soldier stood right in front of the cars acting as a human shield to stop them from getting across. This was going crazy, why didn’t he just join the back of the queue? He got out of the Jeep and squared up to the big Army man in a big Army suit, shouting and screaming, but he was totally outnumbered. Things were getting a bit ridiculous and then everything just stopped, the army turned to face a precession of cars when the saluted, once the cars were out of sight, carnage started all over again. The Jeeps in front started revving and managed to penetrate the border, my guy was stood still arguing when he seen that there was an opening. He turned and ran as fast as his body would let him, but his belly was working a different rhythm to his body, almost smacking him in the face at every stride. He shoved the army aside and drove almost over a couple as he sped off across the Mongolian border, still shouting at the guy as he passed.

I then had to pass through the border checkpoint on foot and have my bags examined, but this was relatively civilised.

Once I got out I was grabbed by some guy who put me in a Jeep with some different people, is this how it worked? (I later found out that he thought I was another traveller, us westerners, we all must look the same.) So I ended up in a different Jeep with an older Mongolian Family. We had to tear down the road to get to the next border control. Our driver tried to be casually drive by all the waiting cars and sneak through the Chinese barricade, our car was surrounded straight away by Chinese who were not going to dick around, so he made a retreat, nice try though. Instead of going to the back of the line, he chose a point by a normal civilian car. That poor car and those poor people in that car must have been scared shitless, the jeeps tore it to bits when they started moving, our driver side swiped it and I saw another car do the same on the other side. Then things were quiet for a while, the China border had shut temporarily and no cars would pass. It was a chance to relax for a while.

And that was when Mrs Mongol decided to pee in a small orange bowl. I had managed to escape just in time once I figured out how to pull on the shoe lace in the right way. I saw her exit the other side with bowl in hand, she emptied it and then put it back in her bag. The family then decided it would be a good idea for them to walk across the border from here. It was not surprising, when I got back in the jeep I realised that the bowl must have been too small for Mrs Mongol, but that hadn’t mattered. She must have carried on regardless, pissing all over her hands; the back of the Jeep was flooded. I had to lift my bag off the floor to stop it from getting wet.

I got through the Chinese border and the driver of the Jeep was supposed to wait for me so that he could drop me in town to the bus station. It was no surprise to me that he didn’t turn up, probably noticed the pool of stinking ammonia behind him and figured enough was enough.

The shamed family stood there outside the Chinese embassy, expecting to get this lift, I waited with them for a while until I realised it was pointless, so I had to resort to hitchhiking into town.

Welcome to China….

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Russian Jeeps, bumper to bumper
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static....
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cranking the motor to get it to start....
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the church on spilled pi**

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 05:13 Archived in China Tagged toilet border chinese mongolia russian jeeps habits Comments (0)

Mongolian Throat Singing

sunny 20 °C

This one is for David and Georgina, and Bob, who tried very hard, but was no good at Throat singing!!!!

Mongolia is famous for a lot of things, in particular its throat singing, in fact the region of Tuva (Russia) is where the most of it started. They use a two string instrument which is called a morin khuur, and some kind of traditional harp, and the star of the show is able to use his throat to produce some more than one tone simultaneously.

While i was in Karakoram, Mongolias ancient capital, i got the chance to see it, after having a go at it in Ronda, Spain with David, Georgina, and Bob!!!

This song was about a Camel.......

THis song is about a horse...

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me and the man...
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Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 04:55 Archived in Mongolia Tagged mongolia singing throat overtone Comments (0)

Horse Trekking in Mongolia

sunny 20 °C
View Overland debacle on beatski's travel map.

Horse Trekking in Mongolia

Going to Mongolia and not going horseriding is like going to Grangetown, Middlesbrough and not getting happy slapped. Horseback riding in Mongolia is still the preferred mode of transport in the country. So when looking for places to learn how to horse ride then how can you not be tempted by a company who has a get out clause on their website as this:

“Personal Danger: Horseback riding is a dangerous activity. You can be seriously injured and you may be hours or days from major medical care. You need to understand this and be willing to accept 100% of the risk yourself. (Stepperiders is not liable for any illness, injury or death sustained while using our services.)”

Yep, this was the professional outfit that I had chosen to teach me the ropes and to make me into a Lone Ranger. It was true though, Mongolia being the vastest country I have seen, it is not like you can dial 999 and expect a paramedic to come out and inject you with a touch of morphine while your crooked limb is repositioned. It is more likely you will have to drink a litre of vodka and get airlifted out of the country, which literally could take days, I heard two separate stories of people getting hurt and taking up to 3 days to get help.

It didn’t put me off.

So the first day we, we being Johan, Evy and Andre, were asked ‘so you been on horses right?’ Lesson over.

We got straight onto the hairy beasts, trial and error was always the best way to learn when riding potentially lethal animals. Health and Safety take the fun out of things don’t they?

So there we are, on these powerful beasts thinking we were Frankie Detorri, trying to get these lazy bastard horses to go faster than walking pace. Those horses knew we didn’t have a clue. They were playing us and were not going to do any more work than they had to, so we hopped along, and would occasionally get a good gallop, but that must have been a fluke.

Come on, we had got into the rhythm of this but we wanted speed. We wanted the wind to whistle past our ears as we went pelting down the vast lands of Mongolia. After being on a horse for only once in my life before this time I was ready to dive into this with both feet. Give me Seabiscuit, I'm ready for some real fun.

The next day, we were given a new guide and faster horses, and this time we went on an 8 hour arse numbing ride.

You could hardly go wrong in Mongolia, I mean the land in parts was quite flat, and there were no fences, nothing to have to really navigate around. Looking at us, you might have even been given the wrong impression that we knew what we were doing. That is all I can think that the guide thought as he came up behind me, challenged me to a horse race, and whipped the arse of my horse. This was it, we were off. My horse lagging slightly behind all the time as if he was toying with me, actually, of course he was toying with me. He was weighted about two ounces and had been horseriding all his life. I had seen 6 year old boys saddleless on horses galloping light speed past me bouncing all over the place with only the reigns somehow managing to keep them from falling off. That was him 20 years ago. Fast forward in time and now he is playing about with this wannabe cowboy, and although I had been losing weight I was still a big heavy bastard, add to this the fact that this was in total only my 3rd day on a horse then I was never going to beat this guy. Try telling me that at the time though, I was catching up to him or at least I thought I was.

Then I was catapulted from the horse. One front leg of the horse had buckled and it had stopped dead in its tracks. I was flung forward out of the stirrups into the air. I don’t really remember flying, only the dramatic commando roll I did once I landed. The next thing I know I am stood on my feet!!!! Meanwhile Seabiscuit the crazy horse is sat nibbling on some grass….. The guide meandered back and looked about as worried as Sean Ryder chewing on a crocodile’s penis.

I obviously still had some lives left, as the next day I was given what I can only describe as a semi-wild horse, one that was just uncontrollable, one that as soon as his head was straight, it would shoot off in that direction at warp speed and there was no slowing down. I had to make sure that the horse was always looking up in the sky. This horse really needed a heavy dose of ketamine. When all my efforts to slow it or stop it had failed, I would let go of the reigns and then just hold on to the horse’s neck hoping that it would stop. The marijuana smoking Mongolian guide simply rode beside me and said “you are not very good”. No shit….

Now it has been said that I have a big arse, maybe that is true, but this arse was not padded enough for the beating it had taken over the last few days. We returned after a hairy 4 hours, I couldn’t sit down, having to lie on my front and side. I sit the afternoon session out; I had used all my lives up and didn’t want a ride in a Mongolian air ambulance.

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Me on my horse, the day i was threw off
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He is a little tinker...
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Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 20:22 Archived in Mongolia Tagged trekking horse riding stepperiders Comments (2)

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