Arrival in Mongolia

July 26th, 2008 Comments Off on Arrival in Mongolia

July 24 – Day 2

The trip here felt like one of the longest days of our lives. Yesterday, our first full day in Mongolia, I crossed three days off the calendar in my journal-two of them fully spent in airports or in the sky. The third day crossed off was spent traipsing around Ulaan Baatar bleary-eyed and foggy-minded with jet lag, so I’m not sure if it even counts.

The temperamental nature of our trip-all the unknowns and things that could go wrong in regard to logistics and weather (clouds ruin a good eclipse) have become somewhat realized, although nothing is certain still, either good or bad-which, ironically, is the only consistent thing with this trip: that nothing is certain.

When checking in to our guest house yesterday morning, Zaya (of Zaya’s Guest House) called Aero Mongolia to confirm our flights to Hovd on July 24 (today). Hovd is part 1 of a 3 part journey within Mongolia to our proposed camp and eclipse site. Her call resulted in a lengthy conversation with the booking agent, during which I thought to myself how wonderful it was I didn’t understand the language, because if I could follow along, and due to the length and tone of the conversation, I’m sure I would have been stressed out-there was obviously some problem, but it’s easy to ignore and defer worrying about it when you don’t know what it is.

It turns out that in early July, during the riots that happened in Ulaan Baatar regarding election results, the airline’s office was burned down and they consequently had no records. Somehow, though, they knew the flight was fully booked and apparently Benjamin and I were not on their passenger list. Zaya threatened the airline with having to pay for our travels and they suddenly found seats, but recommended we get to the airport super early to get them. Later in the day, Zaya left a note on our door that the airline needed us to present ourselves to their office in person, as the departure time had changed from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm.

Having done that, somewhat skeptical whether or not we actually have seats, our plan is to arrive to the airport super super early instead of just super early as recommended to make sure we get a boarding pass.

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