Published: November 8th 2011September 10th 2011
Woke up this morning with an itchy head, I probably had nits. Its difficult to maintain a healthy existence without showers and baths. I don't know how often the Mongolian country folk wash but its certainly not everyday, which leads me to believe that it must be considered somewhat of a chore around these parts. Anyway, I headed to the nearby stream and washed my grisly locks, the water was ice cold and if I lived round these parts myself then I too could quite easily see myself slipping into the washing once a week routine. (And in winter probably never) After washing my hair I took a casual waltz upstream where I came across a mountain of camel turds, so I'd effectively just been rinsing my hair with faecal remnants....SWEET!!!
To celebrate this discovery I headed back to camp, a group of camels had been rounded up. The smaller ones were being inoculated by a woman brandishing a needle, the young ones weren't happy and one of them spat a mass of flob over the lady, caking her head in all sorts of nasty detritus content. A chorus of laughter erupted from her co-workers, the woman remained emotionless in
her facial endeavours and continued to jab away.
Once the camels were well and truly riled up they saddled them up and we prepared for a trek. My camel was called 'Dave', Dave was a good lad. Content to ply along in 2nd place behind our Mongolian guide. Pulling on the reigns ever so slightly and he would stop, a little tap to the gut and he would be on his merry way again. I'd heard that camels were uncomfortable, but at Dave's pace everything was kosher. Behind me however there was a bit of commotion, the Canadians kept screaming and shouting so their camels were getting scared and wondering around aimlessly into the desert. Also Jean Luca's camel kept sitting down, I think his camel was cautious as he had heard the rumors in regards to Italian drivers. Our Mongolian guide was not a happy chappy. He went tearing back on his camel and basically told everyone to shut the hell up because they were scaring the camels. He made Jean Luca's camel stand up and led him and his camel around by the reigns like a naughty school boy for the rest of the trip. Whilst this
was all going on Dave casually eat a tree.
Once everyone had found their rhythm the rest of the hour or so trek went reasonably smoothly. I let Dave stop from time to time to grab some munch, it seemed a bit like a 'I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine' scenario between man and camel. Considering the extremes of a camels stamina this has worked out a treat for humans over the millennia, the beasts of burden clearly proving their worth. And when the going gets tough they make for a pretty nice steak, but I wouldn't want to eat Dave, Dave was my mate, and I don't eat mates.
By about noon we had finished the trek and were back at our camp, we were left to our own devices for the rest of the day. With the weather really hotting up I decided that it was perfect beer weather so pitched myself a spot in the sun and polished off the rest of my brews. We were fed some sort of spaghetti concoction for lunch which impersonated a hamster abortion salad, the Italians were deeply offended. Jean Luca stormed off into the desert as
directionlessly as possible, Francesa shuffled off after him several moments later.
The bigger dilema at stake however was the fact that I was all beered out, and incidently so were the Canadians. Now unless you really liked building sand castles I really can never think of too much to do in deserts. So it boiled down to the fact that going dry in the desert would most definitely be an extremely unhealthy feat. I considered taking Dave for a spin but decided that the more viable option would be to track down Jackie and inquire into the possibility of a desert bar.
'No'. His answer was swift.
'Shop?' I said. He was stuck within a pause, he was thinking intentively.
'mmm....maybe' This was progress.
'Beer?' I said whilst gesturing necking a beer.
'Everybody thirsty' grasping my throat to express the pain of no moisture inside.
'Ok' he said, good old international Ok. And there it was, 10 minutes later we all pulled up at the desert shop in our Russian gas guzzler to place our respective orders. The shop (shack) was all boarded up upon our arrival and the local inhabitants seemed mildly shocked at the presence
of shoppers....to their shop.
I asked the lady for 5 beers, holding up my hand an issuing her with 5 wholesome digits. She seemed a little taken back but happy all the same for the custom. I think they worked out at about 70p a can, these were desert prices so a little sand tax is added. But they were certainly cheaper desert beers than at the desert 'useum' which stung me for a staggering 1 and a half quid. Plus somehow without the aid of electricity the nice old dear served them up ice cold, like Walt Disney.
The Canadians got their beers and just as we were leaving the desert shop an old Mongol boy came over and invited us for some of his home brew, Mongolian custom, to which the invitation was gladly accepted.
We seated ourselves in the old boys ger and he poured out a 500ml glass or so of spirit and passed it over to me first. I took a sip, it was a bit weak, the old boy screamed 'TUKTOY' at me which basically means 'NECK IT'. I necked it, and passed the glass back to the old boy. Respectively
everyone got a shot, however the old boy took a bit of a shine to Ellie, she got some seconds. The old boy filling up a glass and looking over at her and holding it up said 'Mama, TUKTOY', Ellie had pulled.
He then pulled out his cheese, and by that I mean a basket of cheese, homemade of course. Hadn't had any cheese in a while so dipped right into the basket and took a regrettably vast chunk. WORST CHEESE EVER!!! I think it was camel smegma, so strong it made my eyes water, took about a week to get rid of the rancid taste, thing was I was such a a greedy bastard that I still had a massive clump left to deal with. We all sat there munching and grinning and falsely gesticulating about how good his rancid cheese was. Outside a motorbike pulled up and some dogs started barking, the commotion was enough in which to instantly deposit my camel smegma cheese into my pocket. I barely had to think about it, the reaction was 2nd nature, if I'd have had to finish that shit then I don't think that I'd be alive to write
these lacklustre words today.
The camel smegma man's son came in and looked somewhat shocked at the sight of girls in the ger and then Jackie stood and said 'We go'. He didn't need to ask us twice. I was glad that he had made the executive decision for us to leave and I was glad to see the back of the old boys cheese, of which some of it was now smouldering away and creating it's own language deep within the realms of my pocket.
Back at camp Gobi everything was cushty, the sun was shining, the beers were flowing and me and the Canadians were playing a game of crazy eight's. At about 6 beers in I suddenly realised that Jess and Karin were lezzas. My gaydar massively out as I'm not into bumming but with references like 'When me and Jess first met....' and 'Karin cooks, I do the dishes' and 'Our place' then this was just about enough for me to twig. They also had lezza haircuts, you know the short back and sides type, but I didn't read to much into that on first instance, but now that I knew that they were
into scissoring it changed.....nothing. Scissoring is probably better than bumming...probably.
As I was contemplating the art of scissoring it turned out that it was my turn to lay my card, laying my card I noticed that my skin had taken on a lobster-esque look. I considered slapping on some lotion but decided via beer logic that the burning was already to far gone to be reversible....or something.
A couple of more beers later and Jean Luca emerged from back out of the Gobian wilderness stinking like a dead bear. The girls said that he couldn't go in the ger stinking like that. Francesa shouted at him in Italian and moments later he was in his underpants and the girls were throwing rocks at him and calling him 'stinky dick'. It was all a bit weird so I started to think about scissoring again.
Moments later I was doing a traditional Mongolian piss, essentially despositing the urinal content of my bladder upon the bare naked sand of the Gobi, the way Mongols had been doing it for generations. It was when I was trying to write my name in the sand (having mild difficulty as I was trying
to do one of those weird 'a' s like this that nobody actually uses) that I saw a motorbike headed in the direction of the desert shop.
I whipped the old chap away (I think) and shouted over like a lout, the combination of both the sun and the wife beaters were really beginning to kick in now. It was one of the Mongolian ladies from our camp. I pointed at her and then pointed roughly in the direction of the shop, but I think that it was mostly in the direction of a heap of sand and asked 'Shop'?
'Yes' replied the nice rosy cheeked Mongol lady.
'Beer'? I inquired.
'Ok' she said and ushered for me to get onto the back of her bike. It was at roughly this stage that I heard Ellie screaming out 'Are you going for beer?'
'Yeah' I said.
'Get us 10'
'Jesus' I thought. And off me and my new Mongolian lady friend set.
Again the desert shop appeared to be closed for Christmas. But was happily re-opened by the old dear that had served me earlier. She looked at me without speaking but in a manor that suggested 'How
many duck?'. I raised all my digits into the air once, took a hand away and issued another 5. '15' I said in my best non-Mongolian. She was positively blown away by the dexterity of my statement, but pleased as punch I could tell. She ended up giving me a beer carton with 15 loosely placed beers in it to create enough room so that they can roll about all over the place and do what they like on the journey home. My Mongol lady friend did her groceries (weird biscuits) and got a big bottle of Sprite and then we were on our way back to camp with no sign of the old boy and his skanky cheese, thankfully.
For some reason the Mongol lady was driving the motorbike like a dick on the way back to camp, kind of like the dad does in Miyazaki's 'Spirited Away'. I was holding onto the booze for dear life with both hands and I kept sliding forward and bumming her a little bit. The beers kept pissing out all over the desert, every time we stopped to pick one up I ushered for her to perhaps slow it down a
little bit. 'Yeah, yeah, yeah' she would say and then continue to drive like a knob.
Upon my return to camp we continued to drink beer like yobos and play crazy eight's. Shortly after my 11th beer I just remember waking up the next day.
There are more photos below