Story starts at 37N 137E
Three days after visiting my last confluence I crossed into Mongolia. From the small Mongolian border town of Zamin-Üüd I took a night train to Ulaanbaatar where I arrived the next morning. The Naadam festival, which is part family reunion, part fair and part nomad Olympics, started the next day for three consecutive days.
My plan for this journey that began in Japan on June 5th, and which will take me across Northern Asia all the way to Europe, is to follow on the footsteps of a woman who went from Beijing to Moscow through Mongolia in 1862 on horseback. I’m trying to follow her itinerary and her schedule.
After attending the Naadam festival I went back south into the Gobi desert to restart that itinerary where I had left it. On July 16th I arrived at around 10:30 pm in the small town of Sainshand which is, according to the Lonely Planet guidebook, one of Mongolia’s most dusty, dry and windblown aimag (provincial) capitals.
Outside the station, I met a businessman from Ulaanbaatar who helped me found a small hotel. As I was beginning to take a shower, I got electrocuted inside the bathroom and my journey almost ended there. I still don’t understand how I managed to extract my body, which was violently shacking under the 220v electric current, from that bathroom. I remained half unconscious on the bedroom floor for a while where the receptionist found me. She called that businessman who had brought me there and he arrived soon after with a doctor who gave me an injection to revive me. They had to carry me to my bed. I couldn’t walk. They left at around two o’clock and at three o’clock the police woke me up to check my passport. The receptionist told them what had happened and that I couldn’t get up. They managed to take my name and my nationality and left.
The next morning I was feeling a bit better although my entire body was still painful. I needed to do something somehow intensive and positive in order to put that awful experience behind me. I decided to go into the middle of the Gobi desert to visit a confluence. The closest was less than 20km away from the city. I called that businessman again and asked him if he’d be interested to join me.
We met at the market in late morning and he negotiated with a couple of (Russian) jeep drivers until he found a man who was ready to take us to the confluence and back for $20. We left an hour later and drove east of the main rail line that crosses Mongolia from north to south. According to the topographic map I had bought in Ulaanbaatar, we had to turn west after hitting a small landmark going by the number of 35 along the railway. The driver knew that landmark and, after we found it, I turned my GPS on and we drove directly the last seven kilometers across the desert to the point.
Fortunately it was cloudy and the temperature wasn’t too hot. There was the remaining of a dead cow just near the point which had partly turned into a skeleton. Except that carcass there were just a few plants which are made into a concoction by nomads to ease stomach pain. Instead of coming back the same way, we cut directly across the desert to Sainshand.
Story continues at 46N 109E