Woke up with borderline hypothermia. Since the ger had no light whatsoever, I had to crawl into my sleeping bag liner/extra liner/sleepbag in the dark. This was fine when I went to sleep as the fire was still on and burning bright, but through the night as my vitals fell, I realised I mustn’t have utilised the layers as well as I should. I woke at 6am with just a thin liner and half the sleeping bag covering me. I was so cold I couldn’t zip the sleeping bag back up as my hands were numb. On top of that-if you’ll pardon the phrasing-my arse was still pounding from the horse.
We got ourselves to the main ger a fill ourselves with Kazakh bread a tea. The tea they drink here is very milky and since there isn’t much caffeine you can drink it all day. We both got a real taste for it. For the rest of the morning we either lazed around or hiked the farm. The lambs were up so we played with them, saw a few yaks strolling around. The dogs made an effort of trying to chase them but thought better once they got close. Big buggers, yaks.
We got to sleep quite soon after hitting the road again and I woke to see the sunrise over the Gobi Desert. It was a beautiful, once in a lifetime sight and I realised that if I had a better seat I may not have had the best view to see the sunrise. I stared for some time, watching the sky turn from a dark, somewhat drowsy blue to a cool pink, then on to an electric orange. I got a couple more hours sleep then woke for the last hour of our trip. Somewhere close to the boarder there started popping up myriad dinosaur statues. Scores of metal brontosauruses dotted across the landscape. I guess things get boring in the desert.
We finally entered the border city of Erlian at around 7am. A huge, forgotten city, many times bigger than what I had expected. It was an altogether strange area that looked like it could have been something of a nice place to live, but then just stopped caring about itself and sunk into oblivion.
We were once again told to watch our pockets in this town as the people around here were ‘inner Mongolian’ and not to be trusted.
Getting across the border isn’t as easy as it sounds, or as it should be in this part of the world. For one you can’t just walk across, you need to be driven. But there is only one or two official buses every day so the general way is to get a local to take you in a truck. My wife-who likes to steer on the safe side of the road-didn’t like the sound of this but there were other things to consider. We had read that crossing the border could take hours and we wanted to get the train to Ulaanbaatar that day. We certainly didn’t want to get stuck in this town for any longer than what was completely necessary.
I recently posted a video by Seoul-based games company ‘Studio Shelter‘. The video is a ‘faux-demo’ for a video game which tells the recent history of South Korea. A day after it was posted I got a response from the guys at Kimchibytes.com asking for a quick run-down of what was actually going on, so I’ve given it a go.
If you enjoy a bit of history but are more of a watcher than a reader then read on.
South Korean game company Studio Shelter have put together a demo for a (fictional) game titled ‘Democracy Demo’. If you were part of the ‘8-bit generation’ and grew up with the likes of ‘Street Fighter’ and the original ‘Mario’ you will swoon with nostalgic delight at this video which humorously (and quite accurately) depicts the modern history of South Korea from the end of Japanese occupation (1945) to the present day. Knowing a thing or two about South Korea helps (depicting former president Lee Myung-bak as a rat will please many) but it will entertain nonetheless.
A North Korean ‘ghost’ agent, famed in his home country as the ultimate patriot, finds himself embroiled in a scandal involving his wife, a translator at the North Korean embassy and other high ranking government officials. A traitor has been identified, but can we believe the intel? All the while the movements of all concerned are being closely surveyed by the South Koreans, with help from the CIA.