We slept pretty well despite having had to put Jerome on the couch and yielding the single blanket to him as compensation. We tried asking for a second blanket but the receptionist told us this is something that only the hotel manager could approve for us who apparently never turned up.
In the morning we decided to skip the terrible hotel breakfast and to check out immediately, putting our luggage into storage. We took a taxi to office of the transportation company. On the more than hour long drive there (without traffic it would have been under 5 minutes) we experienced probably the worst traffic jams I ever saw, despite the cabbie’s best efforts to bypass them. We were stuck within suburbs on unpaved roads in terrible dust, just inching forward within a honking mass. In general there seem to be no paricular rush hours … the traffic jam seems all encompassing and permanent. We’re not sure where everyone is going because there don’t seem to be a lot interesting of places to go within the city.
The head office of the logistics company seems to be in a pretty important office building because we passed two separate foreign delegations of suits on our way up to the seventh floor. Unfortunately there the nice girl who previously emailed me that the bikes have arrived told me in perfect German that she is disappointed that we came here, as she specifically told the receptionist in the hotel that he is to send us to the warehouse, which is a 20 minute walk from the office building. Another taxi ride did not seem to make sense, so we walked, and found it pretty easily after asking a few locals for corrective directions.
At the warehouse was another friendly lady who spoke pretty good English. She managed a gigantic yard full of shipping containers. She directed one of the containers to be moved from a stack to the floor using a huge container crane. When we saw the way the crane handles the containers (swinging it around, tipping it about 35 degrees, then slamming it down), it was not surprising to find that one of the straps fixing Jerome’s bike has torn, and the bike has slammed its left handle bar clean through the wooden box that contained it, breaking off the clutch level in the process. We were quite worried when we first saw this, but it turned out that the only important thing that broke was the screw holding the lever. One of the friendly warehouse workers rushed to the rescue and got us a screw from somewhere exactly the right size. The day was saved. I paid 10000 MNT for the import papers, and 35000 MNT as hopefully generous tips to the workers who (in stark contrast to the warehouse workers in germany) took great interest in our bikes and helped in every way they could.
We assembled the bikes in only about three hours. I was the one who made the most idiotic mistake of the day: I forgot to take my ignition key along from the hotel. So I had to take a cab back to the hotel, get the key, and buy a canister of premium 92 octane fuel on the way back. Both ways took less time than just the way there in the morning, fortunately — this cabbie second seemed a bit more luck with route planning. Before we left, the warehouse lady asked us if we were a couple. Apparently it is not usual for two men to take crazy trips together. In general all mongolians who we informed that we were planning to drive cross country through their lands just shake their heads in disbelief. She asked if we’re not worried about the bears. We said we were not, though this did scare Jerome a little. 🙂
We drove the bikes back to the hotel in the bumper to bumper traffic, and got permission to park them in a locked yard behind the building. This was at 4pm. But being tired and not having properly packed our bags yet (in other words, combine the luggage that came in the shipping crates with the stuff we brought on the plane in a way that fits on the bikes), and having come up with more ideas for grociery shopping, we decided to stay in the hotel for another night.
We ate dinner (that’s right, our first meal for the day aside from a shared nashi-fruit) in a posh looking hotel restaurant which like all posh looking hotel restaurants were completely vacant other than the army of bored staff. We had a pizza to be on the safe side. We wanted to know what was on the pizza. The waitresses did not speak english here, so in the end one of them pulled out her i-phone (everyone has iphones here, newer ones than I do) and after some typing showed me the screen that had a bear on it and the words “flesh, meat”. We were not sure what exactly to make of this, but we said it was OK. We had some Chengghis Gold Vodka to go with it. It turned out to be delicious, and tasted like chicken.
We bought some german herring fillet in tomato sauce conserves and Leibnitz crackers on the way back because I already ate most of our supplies of these key rations on the previous night. We ended up finding everything except gas bottles for Jerome’s grill. I feel extremely smart for having bought one that runs on gasolene.
Aside from mild throat aches probably iduced by the smog, we both feel fine. The new SPOT coordinate you see on the map is the location of the warehouse. The plan is to drive off into the wilderness tomorrow morning! I only took a few not particularly interesting photos today, we will upload those at a later date. I need to go packing. 🙂