Tuesday, August 19, 2008

UB, Hitchhikers, and Cell Phones

Day before yesterday we traveled to UB. Hetee preached there on Sunday, then we spent the night and came back yesterday.

I always enjoy our trips to and from UB. The 2.5 hour drive through the countryside never gets old. On this trip we saw a herd of camels, about 20 of them, as well as all the usual animals-- yaks, goats, cows, horses and sheep. And of course, the gers (yurts) dot the countryside like mushrooms.

We usually catch the sunset on our way home. This time the sky was lit up in reds and purples as far as the eye can see. Most people visiting Mongolia notice that the sky seems a lot "closer" than in other places. That is especially true of the night sky. Sometimes the stars seem so close that you could reach out and grab one. The Mongolian sky is truly a sight to behold.

On our way home last night we picked up a few hitchhikers-- a couple that only went about 10 miles, and an old shepherd, on his way back to Darkhan.

As soon as the old man sat in the car Hetee and I couldn't believe the smell! We rolled down the windows but the stench was still strong. It smelled like wet dog food. I couldn't tell if it was coming from him or the dead goat in his bag--his wages for looking after his friend's flocks for a month.

He reminded me of another shepherd. One who got a phone call about a few days ago, from the Mongolian National TV station, about his son, Tuvshin Bayar, who was about to wrestle for gold in Beijing. Just minutes before Tuvshin Bayar would walk out to claim a gold medal in Judo, his father called the TV station back and said, "I'm sorry. I had to go to the top of the hill so the cell phone would work. I'm sitting on the hilltop now."

I thought that was a cute story. And typical of the Mongolian cell phone services.

Congratulations to Tuvshin Bayar, and to the rest of the silver and bronze winners! I'm proud of you!

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