Friday, August 08, 2003  

The Drunken Boxers

Not everybody we meet on the road is happy to see us. When this is the case, the most we can hope for is that the person will be indifferent to our presence. Sometimes however this is not the case. Three times over this trip we have had to result to physical force to protect ourselves or our property. All three times have been with drunks.

Before starting the trip, we certainly had to prepare ourselves for this eventuality due to some of the types of regions that we are going through.

Though not shying away from this fact, it is not a thought that is relished due to the fact that we have not been in such a position for many a year.

The first opportunity to destroy this record of good behavior came unfortunately in a town called Oos-tatar about 500km east of Yakutsk in the Russian far east. Woken from my sleep two dark figures framed the doorway of my room. Smelling of liquor the two had obviously been drinking - a fact that became more apparent when one of the men stumbled over and grabbed my arm roughly, whilst spaying me with seemingly aggressive Russian verbiage.

Not understanding a single thing that was being said I feigned still being asleep and tried to ignore them. Undeterred, our inebriated friend continued to tug at my arm whilst becoming noticeably more aggressive. Obviously the situation could not be ignored and the two were helped out of the room before I could return to slumber.

Similarly in Mongolia, where in Soctovo a car full of very drunk youths pulled up to the restaurant we were eating at and invited themselves to our table. Becoming increasingly belligerent, they followed us out to our bikes where the largest of the group - a stocky, tattooed young man - started becoming physical. Again he had to be dissuaded from doing so which was a point that took a little while through his drunken haze .
Similarly, the third incident happened at a gas station on the return to Ulaan Baatar also in Mongolia. An even larger and formative man, who was no less drunk than the previous, took it upon himself to move Matts' bike so he could fill up their truck before Matt had the chance to do the same. When we objected to this, fearing damage to our bikes, the situation turned very violent very fast and also lasted longer than before and it was a while before it was safe to remove ourselves from the situation.

Thankfully we have only encountered drunk individuals who have taken it upon themselves to form a physical connection with us. I am grateful that this in turn has made the situation easier to deal with once raised to that level.

We have not yet encountered that other breed that has mal attend on their mind without the help of alcohol - something that to me is infinitely more dangerous.

To try to put this in context however it must be stressed that these incidents are in a very small minority to the large amounts of interactions that have over the course of the trip and not only could, but does happen through out the would when careful or not. Also a number of episodes are diffused without becoming confrontational in such a unrefined way.

But it is a part of the trip and these are things that we must be prepared for whilst at the same time hoping that if such an incident would arise it ends safely


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More People on the Road

posted by Shaun; | 4:53 AM

Thursday, August 07, 2003  

Russian Border to Ulaan Baator

Posted and taken by Scott who lives in UB and kindly met us at the border before riding down with us. Great photos (I like the locals one) ;-)

Check out the story and pictures

posted by Shaun; | 5:18 PM

Wednesday, August 06, 2003  

Hitting the Gobi

Matt and I are leaving today for the Gobi, before moving westwards in a big loop to the mountains and the steppes.

Henning will stay here in Ulaan Baator and make day trips from the city during this time.

We should be gone about 7-8 and will have little or no contact with the outside world during this time but will be sure to get plenty of photos and videos for everybody.

Matt was able to replace his tire and I replaced my brakes yesterday. However my bike won't start this morning which is another problem :-( I think there is a short somewhere.

Thanks again to my brother who sent me a digital camera from Japan to replace my broken one and we'll be seeing you all in a week or so.

We have had many requests from around the place of people wanting us to take photos of certain things or write about particular parts of culture or country. I would be delighted to do this and if anybody has a request, I have added a forum to the message board just for that which we will do our best to meet. Bring on the requests!

Story, Photo, Video Request

posted by Shaun; | 5:20 AM

Tuesday, August 05, 2003  

The story of the Mongolian Naval Officer.

Told to me by a US consular official and I thought I would pass it on.

When Mongolia was still a vassal state of the Soviet Union it was common place for the locals from the provinces to be sent to various parts of the state for military training.

Most Mongolians were sent to the Army or Airforce training camps, however there was an exception when one young strapping lad left mongolia for Minsk with his papers that he had recieved in Mongolia.

Unfortunately the official that had steadfastly stamped this one mans papers had made a mistake and marked the training as naval. So when our young hero showed up at minsk he protested that there must have been a mistake due to the fact that mongolia is a land locked country and far from any blue seas.

In typical communist fashion though, the superiors in Minsk refused to see the logic of this argument and as it was there in black and white on his papers, the young officer was driven into Naval training.

He spent the next 11 years becoming the most knowledgable (and only) naval expert from Mongolia. By the time that he had finished his training the union had broken apart and he was sent back to mongolia where he still works in the military and has against odds risen to a formidable rank.

And so is the story of the one and only person in Mongolia's Navy.

posted by Shaun; | 2:20 PM








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