the flight into Ulaanbaatar last night went fine. i got to sit with my colleague, which helped pass the time. however, by that point i had been awake about 27 hrs, so i was dragging. and, i kept thinking, “wow, i cannot believe i will be in Mongolia again”. [this is the sixth trip]. at the same time, because i was tired, i kept thinking, “wow, i cannot believe i will be in Mongolia again” in an unenthusiastic kind of way. i mean, this is my 6th trip and, well, fewer things surprise me here.
however, as soon as we got off the airplane ramp and i smelled the steppe and heard pure Mongolian language, i felt very happy to be back in my 3rd home.
a new experience for me in Mongolia was registering with immigration. Americans do not need a visa to travel to Mongolia as long as they stay for 30 days or less. to stay 90 days or less, one has to go immigration, pay 1000 T for a registration form to be in Mongolia. this will be a long trip for me, ~ 50 days, so i had to register. that was new, but not the really new experience.
to get to immigration, which is outside the city near the airport, we rented a gypsy cab. it was a private car driven by a young man. he was so excited to have an American and a Mongolian who had been to America and could speak English, that he took my Mongolian colleague’s number and then, surprisingly, waited for us to complete our work.
on the way back we got stuck in traffic – traffic has gotten much worse over the last decade and serious traffic jams occur midday near the center of the city. as we approached our apartment, a policeman on the opposite side of the street waived our cab into a parking space. our cabbie started rummaging for paperwork. with the traffic so bad, we decided to walk the rest of the way. we gave the driver a 10,000 T bill for the 9,000 T ride. the driver had no change and was going to go to a nearby biz to get change. in the mean time, the policeman had figured out our driver did not have a license! so, the solution was to have the policeman break our bill so we could pay our bill and depart the scene!
that, i had not experienced before.
the pure blue Mongolia sky is out – it is a cool, crisp, wonderful day.