Friday, May 21, 2010

Open letter to the Peoples Republic of Mongolia

Dearest Mongolia,

First and foremost, we would like to offer our thanks to you for hosting us over the first 888km of our westward cycle through your vast and timeless interior. After experiencing a good portion of your fine lands, we felt it necessary to draft a letter of our compliments and suggestions. In addition, please accept this as a response to U.Baatar's letter in last week's Post which we felt was utterly misleading.

We are both very grateful for the stunning accommodations. Our tent has felt much at home upon mountain sides overlooking winding rivers and snow capped mountains. You have been very generous with the overnight temperatures and allowed us to enjoy the odd lazy campsite morning. Our arms really don't appreciate the 1km of off-road bike pushing required to reach such secluded spots, yet we realize you do this to make them that little bit more rewarding.

The enjoyment we get from said camp sites, however, is often influenced by the roads we ride on to get there. It seems someone has put a good million tones or so of sand over a large portion of your tracks. Maybe it was some of the male 'youth' from the village of Tsenher. They were an awfully unsociable and annoying lot and would probably do a thing like that. We trust you will move it back to one of the nearby sand dunes as it makes for very difficult cycling.

The local people you have recruited to work on your lands are an interesting and friendly bunch. We applaud your HR department. The nomadic herders who stop by to visit on horseback are very softly spoken, patient and reserved, even when faced with our stumbling attempts at their native tongue. The multitudes of strong and resourceful women who also herd, prepare food and staff most of the eating and produce establishments that we visit, are good humoured as we endlessly point and vocalize our requests in monosyllabic Mongolian.

If it is at all possible, could you arrange for the winds on some days to head eastwards? This would be preferable to the quite unrelenting westerlies we have been meeting face-to-face, so to speak, on a daily basis. Obviously it would be unreasonable to request an easterly wind everyday, but we feel it only fair to mix it up a little. Only two days ago a fierce westerly brute of a gust almost upended our tent before we could even have our morning cup of coffee. As Alison had prepared some pancakes for breakfast, which then acquired a layer of your finest sand, you can surely appreciate our sense of disgruntlement.

Given the lakes of broken glass scattered across your paths we would like to suggest a move to plastic vodka bottles. This would save both the numerous drunks from unnecessary rotator cuff strains and us from unnecessary puncture repairs.

Finally, to your landscape architects and animal handlers we say thank you. The quirky yaks compliment the high-altitude snowy steppe, the clear snaking rivers are a delight to cycle along and the dogs are responding to our harsh Mongolian cries of 'yavj oh' (go away).

We look forward to your response.

Kind regards,

Dr Andrew Neal and Dr Alison Jarman

Find it on Need a new place to live?


Post a Comment