Aug 12, 2013

A Traveler's Dilemma

All of our possessions

The thoughts in my head this morning are as follows, in order of importance.:
  1. I am very glad to be of a less-than-average height American
  2. Why are all the clothes in Mongolia so small and all the hats so big and what does that tell you about the average Mongolian?
  3. Why is it impossible to find a winter hat in the coldest capital on the planet?
  4. Where the hell is our luggage?
  5. I am never, ever, checking luggage again.
Sure there are other things flying through my head such as why do they drive on the right in Mongolia and sit on the right? But these random thoughts are more of a white noise barely heard over the five listed items that boom through my head like a Victor Wooten bass line in the front row of his concert.

As I sat contently in my coach seat on a twelve hour flight to Beijing and wrote to you about the adventure we sought and the time-traveling we hoped to do in Mongolia, little did I know that the luggage that we packed and re-packed half a dozen times the night before was probably still sitting on the tarmac at LAX. Both Amanda and I landed in Mongolia with no bags – a feat that I dare anyone to repeat. I believe 99% of statisticians would agree that this event is statistically extremely improbable.

This happened to us once before when we landed in Cairo in January, 2011. This time was a little different though. Remember when I told you how we were coming to Mongolia to shun modernity and embrace the old world? This is easy to say when you have a pack in the trunk of your plane containing modern wonders such as rain jackets, sleeping bags, hiking boots and at least a few changes in underwear.

In Egypt we travelled for nearly a week before our bags were delivered to us in Luxor. In Mongolia I just don't think that's going to happen. We arrived to our hotel at around 1PM and, after a serious talk over some meat and noodles, decided to go forward with our planned itinerary. We hopped a bus to the Black Market where we loaded up on the essentials for cheap: hats, rain ponchos, socks, undies, a duffle, some clothes, a flashlight, shoes (I flew here in flip flops (face-palm)), toiletries, and a dozen snickers bars.

I now write to you from the last row of our small propeller-driven airplane headed northwest to the Hovsgol region and the Darkhad Depression. The plan is to see the Naadam festival, go on a three day horse trek, and spend a day relaxing at the lake. At this point, I don't know what to expect. For fear of sounding too whiney, I've left out the other, much smaller issues that have challenged our enthusiasm to be here in the first 24 hours.

Yet, as I stare out the window at the beautiful lush rolling hills of green spread as far as the eye can see, I am optimistic that our luck will improve, our outlook will brighten, and the small hooded coat that we took from our hotel's lost and found will keep us warm. We refuse to give in. We asked for adventure, and we have an adventure.

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