22.10.2011 - 22.10.2011
Mongolia 22nd October
So I failed the test ok?
It was the thing that I had been trying to avoid and had managed to succeed up until my final leg of the journey out of Mongolia. I had been travelling through Russia and Mongolia where men eat meat and that’s that. It is beyond comprehension that people would not eat meat for whatever reason. I thought I had gotten away with it, and I was leaving Mongolia having only had that brief run in with a little pig meat Granny had gave me. But that was long forgotten.
It was the thing that I was afraid I would do and I did it, I felt terrible.
I was on the local train from Ulaanbaatar to the Mongolian border town of Zamyn-Uud, I was in Kupe class again, and I was on the top bunk, the ride was to be about 12 hours overnight. The carriage attendant brought in 4 cups of hot water with a choice of Mongolian Tea (Milk, Green Tea and Salt) or Coffee. These train journeys are a time to relax and are generally quite sociable, so I came from my perch and sat with the 3 others, who didn’t speak a word of English, and I could only muster the words I had picked up along the way which didn’t really amount to much. The guy opposite me was in his 40’s he was travelling with his wife and her friend. Seeing that I was down from above he took this as a time to proudly open up a package that was covered in newspaper wrappings and unveiled a grand portion of dumplings. He offered them to me, so without having chance to think, I picked one out and doing what I normally do, I ripped it in half and looked at what nasties were inside. I must have pulled a face. It was jam packed full of mutton, but what did I expect, Tofu, Linda McCartney’s pretend sausage, or maybe a bit of couscous? I tried to tell them that I was vegetarian. I dumped it on the table and refused it, I might as well have folded my arms and spat my dummy out. Of course this was done with just about as much tact as a punch in the nose. I mean why didn’t I just eat it? Their suspicions that I was maybe not from around here may have just been aroused around about that point. The Tupperware box came out next and I wasn’t offered any of this. In the box it looked like long cut flat pieces of mushroom, it had that dark colour and texture, it was accompanied by some chopped onions. It was that Mongolian classic dish of boiled horse’s stomach. I probably pulled another judgemental face. They were cocking their heads back so they could get the whole thing down their throat in one go as if they were eating some liquorice lace, slurping and sucking up that beautiful horses tummy.
They loved it.
The husband left the compartment briefly, I took the dumpling and pushed it to the bottom of my empty cup of coffee, I topped it with some rubbish trying to hide my shame. I climbed back to the top bunk and ate my Cheese and Onion Crisps. I didn’t offer anybody anything.
If you have some time to kill and want to see how Mongolian border control works then cross the border into China on a lazy Sunday morning…. Jeeps, throwing rocks at them, kicking the doors in, smashing up innocent cars, woman pissing in the back of the car….
boiling sheeps stomach, similar to a horse, but a sheep instead.....