|Sardines on wheat toast and pickles!|
I dug in, plopped a few on a bit of bread, and hesitantly took a bite. It was ... delicious! It turned out that the little fishies were smoked, and the dark bread was a revelation after the noodle kingdom I had just left to the south. They then proffered a jar of pickles. Pickles! Such an odd item for an Asian country. I happily crunched away.
Only a few hours ago I had been in China, the food as Asian as can be. And now, just a hop across the fence, I was tucking into very European fare: sardines, dark bread, and pickles. It is astonishing how radically things can change in such a short distance.
|Goodbye Beijing Smog! Waking up to the blue and green|
So, the Mongolians turned to their northern neighbor, and Russia more than happily obliged. Mongolian "roads" are roamed by Russian Furgans, indestructible metal coffin mini-buses outfitted with huge mud-tires. In the far provinces, tour operators use enormous old Russian military transports to get around, and after seeing some of the car-sucking swamps on horse-back, I can't blame them. But perhaps most jarring is to see a group of Asian faces speaking a language that sounds remarkably like Russian. And of couse, Cyrillic is a Western alphabet. But I'm not complaining, Cyrillic is a piece of cake compared to trying to memorize thousands of Chinese kanji. Then again, the Russians also brought in alcoholism in the form of vodka and slapped up a lot of horrible communist buildings around the capital. The purges of Stalin eventually reached Mongolia and many monasteries were destroyed during the climax from 1937-1939.
|Mongolia's Abraham Lincoln|
|Cruising the high country|
Get a compass and a good map, maybe buy a horse, and just go. Doesn't really matter where, it will be an adventure. That's precisely what I intend to do.