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Horse be gone!

Day 6:  Camp Spot #2 Middle of Nowhere to Camp Spot #3 – the Siberian Border

The bad news is we have a day’s riding with gangrenous bums. The good news is, this will be the last day on horseback! Thank the village spirits. We’ve been traveling towards the brown border line for a while now, and we are close enough to touch it. To me it is a mystical elixir, I want to roll in it, shroud myself in Mongolian-Siberian dirt. The Russian border police have a base on one side and the Mongolian police on the other. Rick rides along the middle of the border while I look out for federal storming us with machine guns and handcuffs. Then Rick, being Rick, decides to escape to Siberia and steps his horse over the other side of the line. Chinzo yells from afar, “Get back [you numnut], the police can see you and you don’t want to anger them!” It seemed to be angering Chinzo, so plus one to Rick.

Tseren-dash took us to his birthplace, a pretty spot near a river. We took some photos which he has asked to send to him, but I have no idea if NZ Post is going to figure that one out as the address he gave me is in some unrecognizable script. He tells me to photocopy the address onto an envelope, write ‘Mongolia’ on it, and it will get there.

Ultimately we do cross the border line and set up camp. I feel like a renegade and am totally psyched about our wild ride into Siberia. Then Chinzo tells me this is the frontier which is not the same as a border. The frontier is 60 kilometers of neutral ground between Russia and Mongolia. This is not quite as dramatic as I had hoped, although we did need to get a special permit to camp there. Mongolian border boss guy did come down to check that we weren’t doing anything illegal but he was really smiley and didn’t have any interest in dragging us off in chains. Instead he had a cup of milk tea and some mutton soup. Not being arrested and thrown in a Russian gulag SUCKS. I’m not sure what the point is of the border guards. I don’t see a whole lot of Russians wanting to race into Mongolia, nor any Mongolians chomping at the bit (groan) to get into Russia.

Nevertheless, success! We made it three days on horseback and never have to see another horse ever again. Oh wait, we will probably see thousands of them in the drive back to Ulaan Baatar. Still, as long as we don’t have to sit on them I’m happy. We say a fond goodbye to Tseren-dash who will lead all four horses home. He estimates it will take him about four hours, that which took us three days.

Dinner that night is mutton with noodles (I.e. nothing again). Chinzo passes out cups of fermented milk, which turns out to be a vile, high alcohol concoction that smells like paint thinner.

As usual, Chinzo is in fine form. He has no interest in who we are or what our plans are unless it contributes to his pro-Mongol, anti-everyone else agenda. He finds out that Rick’s father was Polish whose mother was Russian. We define people by their lineage he states. Therefore, he deduces, you are Russian and thus my enemy. I thought the conversation was going to end like this “…as your father was Polish and his mother was Russian, and as Mongolia conquered Russia you are therefore Mongolian, be my slave, like my horse poo boots.” God knows, half of the rest of the world is for sure Mongolian, particularly the Canadian native-Indians.

All in all though, a sense of satisfaction today, at completing our horse trek. We’ve seen two people besides our posse the last two days and Chinzo aside, the isolation has been nice. We are looking forward to sleeping in a ger tomorrow night, rather than a tiny tent, and especially excited about toilets with seats and running water!

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