I’ll be leaving on my 2011 trip to Mongolia two weeks from tomorrow. Things are pretty simple this time, no new gear to buy for a change. Duffles are out and I’m starting to collect various things I’m taking and staging it all in the guest room.
I’ll be staying with a family in Ulaanbaatar for the first week, seeing friends, getting a couple of new del made and doing some sketching. I’ll also be checking out how much things have changed since last year, when there was a lot of sidewalk repair and general clean-up going on in the central part of the city.
It will also be interesting to see if any of the traffic calming measures are working. At this point, the biggest adrenaline rush I get in Mongolia is crossing the street in UB. On my first few trips, I literally waited at a corner until an elderly Mongol or a young mother with small children came along and then I crossed with them, figuring they would get at least some consideration.
The last trip, I finally (mostly) figured out the pattern and started to cross on my own. The drivers cut it really close, but aren’t actually trying to hit anyone (mostly), so the safest course of action is to do what they expect. This does, however, often leave my lizard brain screaming at me that “You’re gonna die!”
But I still like the crazy city, which has great energy and vibrance, along with some really cool architecture and good restaurants. And it’s such a contrast to the countryside, with its earth roads, incredible scenery, wildlife, herders and quiet.
Two weeks to go….