The Turk and I woke up late this morning (almost at 09:00), I ate breakfast (eggs, sausage, and bread), and then packed my bags. We could see fresh snow covering some of the nearby mountains and I wondered if the French couple had gotten caught in the snow storm last night. The “bus” came late and was actually an eight-seat minivan (including the driver’s seat). We said our “goodbyes” to the folks who run the guesthouse, loaded our bags, and drove off. We picked up some more passengers, tried to pick up another who didn’t come, and then drove to the gas station (why fuel up before taking on passengers in the town?). We then drove back into town (?), making a loop through town, to pick up two additional passengers. We now had eleven bodies packed inside the eight-seat minivan. We then headed south to Murun.
Luckily for me and two other backseat passengers, one man got off not to far out of Khatgal, giving us much needed leg space. The rest of us then continued on to Murun, which took a little over an hour’s drive. The driver then dropped everyone off at their respective stops before finishing at the city’s bus terminal where another traveler, the Turk, and I got off. The Turk then bought his bus ticket to Ulaanbaatar at the terminal, which was scheduled to leave at 17:00. The Turk then called a woman he knew in town who spoke English and who had a vacant room in the guesthouse her sister runs. She came to greet us at the terminal and we walked to the guesthouse where we stored our things. The room I was to stay in also had the shared kitchen in it; in fact the woman was renting out the area from her sister and was allowing me to stay on an extra bed in the kitchen/bedroom. We then met her sister and the four of us traveled west out of town to see the nearby deer stones (we had learned about them the night before and today we asked the two women if they could drive us there).
We took the hard road out of town; past the airport it transformed into a dirt road. We drove the car across the arid fields, stopped to ask directions from another vehicle, and then proceeded on to the deer stones, which are believed to have been erected around 1500 BC by Bronze Age nomads. There were a lot of the stones still standing, though some were slightly askew, located next to several circular rock burial mounds that are believed to contain the remains of high-ranking Shaman priests. After wandering around the archaeological site in the blazing sun, we then quickly headed back to the guesthouse. The Turk grabbed his belongings, we said “goodbye”, and he walked off to the bus terminal.
The woman then walked me to the new hot shower facility that was recently built in town so that I could finally clean myself properly after my trip in Khatgal. We walked across the town, through many dusty roads, for about twenty minutes before actually reaching the complex, which to my surprise, was actually right next to the bus terminal (we also saw and smelt a dead dog covered in flies on one of the dusty roads as two other dogs observed with limited curiosity). I then payed to use the sauna and shower figuring I should make the most of my visit here before traveling through town again only to most likely become covered in dust.
After freshening myself up, I headed back to the guesthouse, where the woman cooked me dinner (dried mutton, turnips, potatoes, garlic, and rice). We then went out to a nearby pub with her daughter to meet a friend who was learning English and wanted to practice it with me. Unfortunately the friend could not make it, so after a few beers (one of the beers I had was a “Siberian Corona”, which was colored green, light, and lime flavored), we went back to the guesthouse. I also earned the nickname of “Forest Man” on account of my unshaven and hairy appearance. Once in bed, I read some more of Hemingway’s short stories before eventually going to sleep.