Sunday, June 01, 2008

The long and the shorts of it

We are here!

Our skivvies are not …

Missouri’s learned envoys to the Land of the Endless Blue Sky arrived in Ulaanbaatar Sunday evening after (hang on… 2 ½ to St. Louis, almost 5 to LA, carry the layover, 13 to Seoul times a cramped leg plus transfer to Mongolia ) one heck of a long time on our bottoms in a variety of semi-comfortable seats. But we were all in good spirits, especially when Dan, Monke and Brian from the trip showed up and we found that Ted from Tennessee had been on the plane with use.

We chatted away with excitement while watching the bags plop onto the carrousel at glacial speed. And we grinned at each other as the crowd of fellow travelers dwindled.
And then we looked at each other in dismay when the last bag came up the belt – and wasn’t one of ours.

Our baggage is somewhere between Mongolia and Seoul. Or Seoul and Los Angeles. Or Los Angeles and the moon.
We were not alone. Several other long-distance passengers were left baggedly clueless. I knew we were in trouble when a very patient and very polite Mongolian official smiled and whipped out a sheet with pictures of various types of bags and descriptions in Cyrillic text. I wasn’t even exactly sure of the color of my new case and less sure how you describe a rolling backpack.

Korean Airlines has but one flight per day to Ulaanbaatar, so the best we can hope for is to have clean underwear sometime Monday night.

In the meantime we took a bus down the bumpy road to the Flower Hotel. Brian White, the host from CIEE, explained that Ulaanbaatar is like Las Vegas – very pretty at night. You make the call in the daylight.

It is indeed a city of lights. Not a lot of traffic, but interesting signs – the Hanburger. The Khan Brau beer palace, etc.

The Flower Hotel is older but nice. It has a famous Japanese restaurant and a bathhouse. But I most appreciated the in-room Internet for just $4 a day. And the bed. I talked to Cecile by video Skype, washed out my shorts and went to bed about midnight.

And here I am. Ready for my first meal and my first day of adventure – armed with the key phrase of the day.

Jorlong khaan baidag ve. (Where is the bathroom?)

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