West to East Micronesia China Mongolia Russia Baltic Region Visegrad Region Balkan Penninsula East to West Ancient Civilizations Straddling the Straight Southern Africa Eastern Africa Ethiopia United Arab Emirates South Asia Crossing Photo Album Trip Logistics Itinerary Transport Logs Route Maps About Us
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  
White Lake Mongolia
ULAAN BAATAR July 2-3 July 4-5 July 6 July 7-8

NAADAM July 9-10 July 11 July 12 July 13

COUNTRYSIDE July 14 July 15 July 16 July 17 July 18 July 19 July 20-21


BALDAN BARAIVAN July 25-30 Intro About Baldan Baraivan Mani Buteel Buddhist Festival The Restoration Work Another Naadam & About CRTP

ULAAN BAATAR July 31-Aug 1
White Lake, Mongolia, July 15, 2003


July 14. UB  First thing in the morning we got our taxes sent off via DHL and then went to meet Daka at Chez Bernard's to finalize the itinerary for our countryside trip.  Our driver, Amara, was there as well and we went through the daily sites that we planned to visit, allowing for an extra day for flexibility if we wanted to stay somewhere longer than planned.  It all came together pretty quickly and we set a time to meet later that afternoon to go shopping for our food. 

With only a few hours to kill before our shopping date so ran to take out a cash advance to cover our trip expenses and we got all of our Russian visa stuff together to submit to Buriyat Tours for processing. Although Buryat offered a more expensive visa it seemed more flexible so we thought it was the better option. The bookstore in UB that specialized in foreign books was extremely small but Rob had found our Mongolia and Central Asia guide books there and the shop also had a Russian guidebook with information on Tuva.  Our Trans Sib book was sufficient for everywhere but Tuva and we didn't want to lug yet another guidebook along so we struck a deal with the shop owner to borrow his book to just copy the Tuva section for a fee.  A list of the cities we planned to visit was necessary for our visa so we finally had all of the info we needed to apply for our visa.  But, when we went to submit our application we found that there had been a miscommunication with the travel agent.  When had a list of everything he said that we needed for our visa from our first visit but it now seemed that we also needed proof of insurance an iron clad entry date and a departure ticket.  The proof of insurance was only needed for countries with a national insurance program, which did not include the US, and after further discussion it became clear that we just couldn't communicate clearly with this guy.  So, we would have to apply for our Russian visa after we returned from the countryside.  

Daka and Amara took us shopping in Amara's old Russian van, our transport for the coming two weeks.  His five year old son was in the front seat and accompanied us as we went to several discount shopping locations in UB, including the container market - a row of shipping containers being used as small stores.  Everything we couldn't get at the discount shops we bought at the State Department Store and a smaller nearby market.   

Since we were all going our separate ways on the following day we met up with Jeremy for dinner at Khan Brau, the beer garden we had already frequented several times.   A fellow journalist and his wife from Beijing met up with us as well.  As a Hong Kong born couple that emigrated to Canada they had a number of interesting stories about being "foreign" journalists in China.  For all of China's new outward appearance the human rights issues are still being neglected.  This journalist told us how he was thwarted when trying to cover a story about a whole town in China that contracted AIDS, or the far majority did anyway.  They all were donating blood for money and in order to donate more often they were giving just their platelets and having their plasma returned to their bodies via a centrifuge system.  Unfortunately someone in the town had AIDS and they never bothered to clean the centrifuge system.  The government denies the situation and prevents the press from interviewing the people in the town.  The other sensitive story he had tried to cover was the fact that the government timed prisoner executions for when their organs were needed in transplant operations.  Such appalling abuse of people while the industrialized world proceeds to admit China into the WTO and the WHO lets them off easily during the SARS crises.  If Canada lied about its SARS cases perhaps it would have been taken off of the travel advisory list sooner as well.