Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Does this need any explanation?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Stolen memories

Last night at a party I was trying to show my friends some pictures on my camera of the local Carrefour cheese information plaque, and inadvertently wiped the flash memory. So, I'm not sure how many of the mongolian photos I lost- but it could be substantial. In memoriam of the wiped photos, then, here is an excellent self-portrait (well, self posed) of The Professor, or so we called this retired French Canadian gentleman....sometimes we called him the Nutty Professor (with affection of course.) This is taken on top of the sand dunes in the Mid-South Gobi...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More Strange Fruit

See if you can guess where these are from, and how the local people eat them there.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I think this image is self-explanatory, for anyone who grew up in a large family. The manufacturer of this product included a nice little picture for those of us who had a hard time mentally picturing a 'nuthouse'.
Looks pretty sweet, don't it?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Kevin gets his first taste of horsemilk in the ger. The lighting was always golden and great in these tents, unless of course it was raining, and then it was unbearably gloomy inside.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Scenes like this one below of the wild horses on the lake were so commonplace in the Gobi that after seeing things like this, we hardly could get enough enthusiasm together to stop the van and pile out for picture taking (first picture above); At first I was so enthusiastic myself, that as a sort of postmodern joke about all of us, I took pictures solely of people taking pictures - the first dozen or so out of the 500-odd pictures I took on the trip.

Ironically, some of the best and most striking images of the whole trip were at the end -such as the horse and camel that we saw grazing with abandon on the sidewalk of the outskirts of Ulan Batur upon our return. Unfortunately, most of our memory chips were full, our batteries exhausted and our readiness to take those shots completely gone.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Periodically I would go to the cheapest budget hostel in Ulan Bataar, the capital of Mongolia, to see if there were people interested in joining together to see the Gobi desert, the world's second largest. When travelling in Mongolia, it is prudent to travel in groups, not only for economy's sake, but because you have so much more fun with other people, because it is safer, and for a host of other reasons.
Still, we tourists mostly tend to be westerners with a strongly developed sense of individualism, a 'do-it-yourself' sort of spirit, and nowhere did I see this expressed more absurdly than on the wall of this budget backpackers dosshouse, where apparently some rock-bottom budget hunter was passing along this bit of 'wisdom'.

The bottom line is 12,800 tugrug, or about ten dollars at the current exchange rate. It's about what I spent on horsemilk every day -- or, more acurately, my daily budget which did indeed have a lot of horsemilk, but also included other more conventional goodies like cheese and chocolate.

So this bottom line on this notepad isn't a bad price for a two-day, all-expenses paid excursion to the Gobi desert, which cost me about 30 dollars per day on my trip (fairly standard, I'd say) - unless one reads carefully, notice the part where it says "Next morning Walk to "Khar Uul"....15 KMS"....."Walk Back"....

First of all, it's a FLIPPIN' Desert, Buddy! In case you'd forgotten, that means, "no convenience stores, no roads, NO WATER" you'll need to carry about 4 liters per day if you have the luxury of transport, about double that if you're walking. So, how easy is it going to be to carry 16 liters of water for the trip there and back, plus tent, sleeping bag, flashlight, iron rebar for the tent so the howlin' wind doesn't take your house away like Dorothy's, and anything you're going to eat to sustain you for the thirty kilometer DEATH MARCH that you've put yourself on?

Ten dollars. Hmmm...about what the taxi will cost when they take you to the hospital to treat you for extreme dehydration, I guess.

I guess you can tell my days as a dirtbag rock-bottom hippie budget traveller are probably coming to an end, right?

Friday, September 01, 2006

I'm Back

First of all, let's clear up some things. the boy in the picture on the previous page is Tibetan. I was taking a bus, most likely from Xigatse to Lhasa.
The heavy-duty truck below was dubbed "The BEAST" by it's British creators, who have apparently driven it overland from Europe through Russia and China. It is parked on the banks of the Mighty Mekong, not Vietnam, but Laos, in the cultural capital of Luang Prebang (I know, it has to be the funniest sounding city besides Timbuktu)
Now here's another mystery picture for you, this time I'll tell you the place...Ulan Batur....but what in the world is this 'fruit'?