Monday, October 11, 2004

Mongolia: The Eight Level Of Hell

Last week we went to Mongolia, a four day tour in hell. Frankly, I would sooner chosen to go with Dante in his travels to the seven hells.

We were a lot of us, twenty plus filipinos in one bus, so you can imagine the noise inside the vehicle. At first, we thought this is going to be fun, then things turned bad. One, our tour guide only speaks in Chinese, thus no vivid descriptions of places that we visited, nor historical tidbits to tide us over the trip. Second, the food sucks, and coming from the Philippines where food is considered an art and skill (anyone for soup no.5?), everything tastes bland and oily. Apparently, they only know how to cook goat in only one way, akin to burning an offering to the gods. While it's flattering to be considered gods, going around in a bad tummy is not my idea of a good time.

We went to Floating Temple first, and when I first stepped off the bus I felt I stepped into a freezer in Antartica. Boy, was it so cold! I think it was -8 degrees, and since winter in Beijing is around 10-15 degrees below, this is just a prelude of what the weather would be like in December. Memo to me: Buy more winter clothes.

The Temple was okay, built on the side of a mountain cliff with only steep stairs to ascend to the top. It was nice and picturesque, except the last part where one part of the structure thin walkway with a very steep 1000 feet drop straight down. Now that I don't like, having acrophobia and all. I vaguely remember crawling in the walkway in terror, gripping the railings tightly my hands turned white. All in all, it was okay but I wouldn't go back again.
Slept in a crappy hotel, then went to various temples the next day. Frankly, looking back, I think we spent most of our tour riding the bus, not spending more time in the locations.
The only great part of the trip happened in the afternoon, when we finally arrived in the desert after four hours of travel. Hiking up the dunes, riding the camel, watching the sun go down, sledding in the was a fun time for all of us. Then we slept again in some crappy hotel and awaited what the next day offered us...

The next day is supposed to be the last part of the tour, the grass plains of Mongolia. There the food was even more worse than possible, and the place where we're gonna sleep having no toilets or even heaters. So basically slept with our jackets on and went home the next day without taking a bath. Gross..

What's even more gross are the common toilets. Apparently, the Mongolians haven't heard of waterclosets, thus they also have crapping bowls or pits sometimes filled to the brim with shit. How one can sit down and add to that pile is beyond me, but the people to that there. And I pity the girls who went with us. Tsk tsk...

All in all, it was the worst tour I ever had. There are a lot of things I didn't remember because I probably blotted it out of my mind, hideous memories and such. The only thing that kept my mind straight was the fact there are a lot of Filipinos thus it was cool, and the fact I met Crazy Boo, a cute half Chinese, half Vietnamese girl who makes me stutter all the time. But that's another story.

So heed my warning: Stay away from Mongolia!

State of Mind: Flurried Frenzy
Song of the Day: Time to Fly by Ten to Five
Now waiting for: My laundry to finish...
Chinese Phrase of the Day: "Wo hen lei le" (I am very tired)


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