A Travellerspoint blog

Horse Stomach with Onion?

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….

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boiling sheeps stomach, similar to a horse, but a sheep instead.....

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 02:49 Archived in Mongolia Tagged train soft mongolia seat mutton kupe Comments (2)

Mongolia

Mongolia October 2011

Given that I had met Dave and he had basically put the shits up me, then I was not expecting much more from Mongolia other than cat fights, unprovoked attacks and perhaps a horse if I was lucky. What I soon realised of course that UB is a city that is like any other Central Asian City, it is struggling to cope with the change and the development, combine this with the inability to expand the city due to its geographic limitations, the city is simply becoming more dense. There now exists in Ulaanbaatar Ger Ghettos. Every city has its no go areas but none of them can say that those Ghettos are made entirely of Nomads where their traditions are still practiced but only in addition with the vodka drinking and the petty crimes that the drinking encourages.

Once you get outside of Ulaanbaatar then you see how the country really works. There are very few paved roads in Mongolia. If you were to look at the country, draw a cross, where the two lines meet, that is UB, the 4 lines out of UB are the only roads in Mongolia. To travel in Mongolia you need a Jeep or a Horse and a GPS unit. There are no road signs, there are just dirt tracks that lead to places that you only know about if you are a native to this country. These ‘roads’ take you over volcanic rocks, through forests, over mountains, through lakes, rivers and streams, its no wonder that the Horse is still the most used mode of transport in Mongolia. Mongolia really is the last place on earth where the people are genuinely free on their own land.

Mongolia has about 450,000 tourists per year, compare that to Paris alone, which has 27 million, that is exactly 60 times more tourists in a place that is over 20,000 times smaller than the whole of Mongolia. In a word, Mongolia is vast and is lucky enough to have been bypassed by the overwhelming tourist movement.

Unfortunately though, business is booming, mining is big in Mongolia, they are rich of Copper, Uranium, and Gold, they have one of the biggest copper mines on the planet and they also believe that the Gobi Desert holds billions of tonnes more of the precious metal. Some Mongolians have become very rich very quickly, and with all of this wealth comes development, and with development comes roads, factories, jobs, careers and alternative existences to the nomadic life. Now what I am not saying is that business should be put aside to preserve the unique traditions of the Mongolian nomads, but if you compare Inner Mongolia with Outer Mongolia then you are able to see a clear distinction. With Inner Mongolia lying within China there are only a handful of families living like their former counterparts over the border. Land has been flattened and you get an eerie feeling as you pass through the province. Some cities have even been built, but today there are no residents, ghost towns waiting for a gust of Chinese to inhabit and occupy.

Soon enough in Outer Mongolia business will come, Mongolians will move out of their Gers, they will trade in the Horse for the Hummer and they will get a place in the city.

But since this is all in future tense, lets hope that when it does come that the balance is right, and that nomadic existence is preserved and not just in a fabricated ‘nomadic’ town for tourists to gaze on and take photographs.

Forget about the city Ulaanbaatar, it’s a dump, get out into the vast open outback on a horse but don’t fall off, you’re a long way from any help…

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Night time in outermongolia
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My mongolian Family
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Shamanic Site, sacrifice of a Foal
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me and my marra
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It isnt a Ger if it doesnt have Sky TV
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Camel Ride....
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Drinking Fermented Horse Milk, yum...
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and he was a little bastard....

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 06:29 Archived in Mongolia Tagged mining mongolia Comments (0)

Dave the Deer Hunter

sunny 17 °C

Ulan Bator - Mongolia

Id arrived in Ulaanbaatar tired out, the Russian border had taken its toll and I was grateful on getting an early check in at the hostel. I was pleased to see that Jimmy Cranky, Les Dennis and Lionel Richie had followed me and were checked into the same place as me. Great, that was just f*cking great. They wanted to do a tour of the Gobi Desert and asked me to go along with them. Their mere presence was enough to trigger a mild bout of Tourette’s like spasms. The answer was no, I was busy, sorry, the Gobi will have to wait.

So checking into my hostel early was a mild consolation until I realised that the room was being evacuated. The guy in the corner was having a nasal thunder storm and had been all night apparently. People were moving out, changing rooms, anything to get out of the room, and I was just about to make it my home for the next few days. I wanted a bed to lie in and I had it, that’s all that really mattered to me at this point.
Of course soon enough the room was empty, me and the Thunderstorm in the corner were good company.

He woke up and I didn’t make an attempt to make conversation, I was still hallucinating from lack of sleep, but somehow we managed to begin speaking. This guy was called Dave, and Dave was from Kansas. This guy was on edge, and I mean really on edge. I don’t know what Kansas puts into their water but I would bet that this guy had a homemade nuclear bunker in his back yard, with 2 months’ supply of spam buried in his garden next to the nuclear moon suit and the double barrelled shot gun. I had heard that Ulaanbaatar was quite a dangerous and violent place to visit and you had to be quite careful, but I had heard that about every single city that I was visiting and I was beginning to bore of it. I was still a little bit anxious about UB, most people travelling the reverse root of the Trans-Siberian did have something quite negative to say about UB, and the message was clear about being careful. So when good old Dave woke up and started giving it to me both barrels then I decided that night that I would not leave the hostel.

‘As soon as you get out of this hostel man, those beady little eyes will be looking at you, keep on your toes man, you need to be ready for it, they’ll be on you straight away, just watch out for yourself, keep your guard up.’ His eyes stared right through mine and seemed to get bigger, he had lost some control and was raging while he was gobbing off. He was stood up at this point, his arms were throwing punches, he was cupping his fist in his other palm. He wasn’t a big guy, built like a football spectator rather than a player. He wore a baseball cap and khaki trousers. He looked like the kind of guy would decorate his caravan with his personally murdered animal skulls with dressed eyes seemingly still all alive and innocent, proud as punch, “this guy(pointing to a dead antelope), I shot straight in the ass with a Ruger 77Mk .308 caliber, I waited for two days before it dropped dead, I was stuck up in that tree for 15 days, what a great time man, great days…”

He carried on with enthusiasm… ‘Man, just where you are staying, in that bed, some Mongolian dude walked right into this hostel and took this guys laptop, right where your sat dude. Plain as day”

That was it, I was not playing out tonight.

I wanted to know more, but didn’t at the same time “And some Australian dude, big guy he was as well, yeah man, broad daylight, those bastards tried to rob him of his bag, he kicked them so this punk ran at him with a corkscrew, cut into his forearm pretty bad man, shit that cut was deep man, he had to go to China for surgery on that.”

His eyes were thumping and ready to jump out of their sockets, he was getting more animated. He was winding himself up. I was just watching this ticking time bomb and he was about to explode. Dave though, he was ready for them, he wasn’t going to take any shit from anyone.

‘And don’t get a taxi, man this fucker ripped me off, took me somewhere out in the sticks man, then tried to charge me double, I threw the money at him and I slammed that door as hard as I could man, then I Judo kicked that door man,’ he was on his feet and he went through the whole scene again. ‘you should have seen the dent in the door man, he got more than he bargained for. The guy went wild man, but hey, you need to teach these fuckers that they don’t mess with tourists ey’ I'm sorry but this guy was on his own. I was finished, but he was just getting ready for his finale.

He started on his feet…. He put his back pack on, he wanted to show me something. He had both his hands placed on top of his shoulder straps and was just beginning.

‘You know this guy, he started pointing at me, you know, like saying all kinds of crap being all aggressive, shit man so what do I do, SLAM!!!’

HE HAD A KNIFE, he had snapped it out of its holder and it was pointing at me. It was in my face in a second, I was still trembling from the last stories, where the f*ck had that come from. My eyes were rolling back into my head. The only thing I could think of was the quickest way into China…..

Maybe it was just coincidence, but when I got the courage to leave the hostel, the first person that approached me wanted money, I was 15ft from the hostel, then when I found somewhere to eat I noticed that some Mongolian ‘lady’ had walked into the restaurant, she looked like she had just been dragged through a skip, her hair in knots, her shoes with holes in…. Mindful of what I had been told I took my napkin and tried to make something dangerous out of it, all I could think of was a Seg, I could wet it with gob and throw it at her forehead, giving me an opportunity to flee. I wasn’t going to get fooled by this Mongolian, she was dangerous. As she approached I got ready to fire, a woman from the kitchen came out, there were some Mongolian words and then there were some slaps, some spitting and some harsh language. I had been in UB for 4 hours and I had I had left the hostel for the first time. Time to go back and book my ticket out of here I think……

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Did Dave kill this poor fellow?
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What about this Deadmau5, did Dave Kill this poor creature?
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He killed this fine animal and even dressed the thing up.... that guy is sick man.....
Dave, go to Kansas, do not pass Go and do not collect £200, and stay out of Mongolia

Article By David Beattie of Rounton Coffee

Posted by beatski 05:16 Archived in Mongolia Tagged deer mongolia dave hunter kansas Comments (0)

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