6th November 2015
Our tour officially started with our driver Baatraa and guide Tamiraa taking us to the local market to stock up on food for the next few days. As travellers, we are also photo enthusiasts so since the market is neither on government ground nor a military base, no sign was present to tell us that photography is prohibited. The people, colour and energy is a goldmine for an obsessive bumbum like myself.
While I was snapping away, a middle-aged lady came up and pointed at my camera. She was not happy so I immediately turned it off. A mini argument soon followed. Bartraa and Tamiraa was not pleased and intervened. I walked away wondering why and was later told that locals dislike Chinese, especially at their local market. Basically, as a customer, I’m spending money at your store so in a way I ‘m helping out. This hatred is unjustified since whatever century-old, historical and modern problems lies between Mongolia and China, it does not concern me. Some locals believe that China invaded their land etc etc ( There is always several versions to this. All I know is I didn’t do it). This is not the first time that I’ve encountered a hiccup during my travels.
“Some tourists come to the market, take photos then post images that negatively affect the place. That is why they don’t like it.” said Tamiraa
Whoever did that in the first place is an idiot. What kind of nonsense can one write about a market? Nevertheless, I was glad that some shopkeepers allowed me to take photos and I was able to not only take a glimpse into the eating habits and fresh food that Mongolia has to offer but also feel the energy and smile at the variety of colours evident in a place such as that.
It was not a pleasing start to my trip nor was it sufficient for me to suddenly despise Mongolia since if I had some preconceptions then I would never had set foot in the country. As a bandit, slight hiccups will not affect the rest of my trip since this will only make the trip even more memorable.
The drive to Kharkhorin* was long but comfortable in the USSR van. We past barren lands, livestocks and stopped for lunch at a local restaurant.
I’m normally ravenous at the sight of fresh food but the servings in Mongolia proved to be far too much for my daily intake. It was a very hearty 2 USD meal and the waiters there were very happy when I tried to say thank you in the local tongue. Very kind considering I pretty much just murdered their language.
We went for a short walk up a valley.
Ice started to form already and I thought about just how crazily cold it would be to visit the country in December-January. November is a perfect time to visit since it is not THAT cold and you really feel that you have the whole country to yourself.
I couldn’t take my eyes away from the adorable baby tied to the bedpost by a piece of long silk.
Ger time! The three of us were pumped!
*Kharkhorin in the Ovorkhanga Province is a town with around 115,000 people and their main source of income are tourism and agriculture.