Day 12: Dead Sheep Van

Mongolia

Day 12 of hitchhiking Mongolia.

The first people that picked us up were two cops. If I were in the States or any western country, I would have been worried about cops stopping their car for me while I was hitchhiking, but these Mongolian policemen were extremely friendly and helpful. They were happy to drive us to the next town down the road and didn’t even check our passports.

After they dropped us off, we walked for a while longer, then caught a small truck ride with a poor looking couple, then another one in a van. The back of this van reeked because it was stuffed with dozens of sheep skins, some of which still had legs, blood, and gunk on them. The driver threw our backpacks on top of the skins, and told us to get in the back. There were already 3 people sitting in the back seat, but we managed to stuff in with me sitting on Felix’s lap. The driver was heading all the way to Ulaanbaatar and said that we could go all the way with him, but since we were sharing 3 seats with 5 people, we asked him to drop us off at a train station a couple of hours down the road.

We got out in Erdenet, with our necks and legs cramped and sore, and our bags splattered with blood and reeking of sheep. Then this driver asked for money! We gave him 5,000 tugrik, which was the price of the bus. He wasn’t too pleased about that but neither were we. This was the first person in Mongolia that had asked us for money at the end of a ride, and it was the worst ride of the entire trip.

Next, we bought 2 overnight train tickets ($4/each) and some food for the road ($1).

We slept in the train and arrived in Ulaanbaatar at around 6am. We booked into the same hostel we stayed in before ($8) and had 3 things to do in the city: buy gas for my portable stove, get Felix’s Chinese visa, and extend Felix’s Mongolian visa. The greatest piece of bullshit that any traveler has to deal with is visas. It is so sad that we live on this incredible beautiful planet but we restrict our own species from seeing it, all because of modern day tribalism. I mean, it’s not like you choose where you’re born, but as soon as you’re born you get assigned some papers that tell you which tribe you belong to, and where you can and can’t go. If you’re lucky, you get assigned a piece of paper that gives you access to most of the Earth, if you’re unlucky, you might not even be able to leave your tribe. And the funny thing is that all of these papers are based purely on imagination.

Unfortunately, Felix screwed up a little with this visa bs and as a result, we had to be back in Ulaanbaatar just 5 days later, which meant that we couldn’t go too far from the city. So we decided to go to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, just an hour from Ulaanbaatar, instead of Central Mongolia.

Total expenses of days 12-13 in Mongolia:

$2 dead sheep van
$4 train
$1 food for train
$8 hostel
$5 gas for camping stove
$9 groceries
=$29

Accommodation: Overnight train, hostel (one easy way to save money is to take overnight transport)

Food: Cooked

Total expenses so far of 13 days in Mongolia (including the price of getting to Mongolia):
$120.00

* Of course visas will add to your expenses, but there’s not a whole lot you can do about that…except not go to the countries that require expensive visas, which was what I did this time.