Yeah, that’s a catchy title, no? Read on and be amazed…
On April 13th, the government imposed a two week ban on all public places being open after 10pm. Additionally, some of the markets were closed and public events were postponed. Last Monday, the two weeks were over but since the first case of locally infected SARS was reported, the ban was extended for another two weeks.
Just like two weeks before when suddenly 90% of the population started wearing masks, an initial scare was unavoidable on Monday and Tuesday. Now, it was even impossible to enter the state department store or the sky shopping center without a mask. That some people would take off their masks right after entering didn’t really matter and by Wednesday, holding up a mask when entering was already enough and by Thursday, nobody was standing guard at the entrances anymore.
Strangely enough, the swimming pool remains open. That is, on Tuesday, Bakir (our driver into Tsagaan Nuur) and myself wanted to go swimming but were stopped at the entrance. Not because of SARS, but because the prime minister was using the swimming pool and it seemed he did not allow others in at the same time. Instead, we went the next day and castigated ourselves lovingly.
Tourist season is, indeed, slowly starting up. Last Friday, at the Steppe Inne, some ‘dirty’ backpackers were among the guests and you run into them in the streets (or more accurately, in the Internet cafes) more and more. Jean, a Frenchman, came over for a drink on Thursday. He had hitchhiked from Paris, through Russia, and was hoping to continue into China, possibly Tibet and India and then fly back to Holland, were he would start working in July.
Tourist or not, we had a guest of another kind on Thursday, when a young individual staid for the night in front of our door. We tried waking him, without success, but the next morning, he was gone.
When the previous group of geeks were here, Kirk, a vegetarian, sprained his ankle. On Thursday, Ryan, a vegetarian, sprained his ankle. Is that proof enough you should not be a vegetarian in this country?
And we had another car crash. After returning from the Korean restaurant Imbuss on Friday, we took a cab to our place to continue drinking. I explained were the driver had to take us, but when we arrived he seemed to keep on driving, apparently waiting for my signal to stop. Everyone was talking to each other in the car, so my Mongolian rendering of the word ‘stop’ didn’t really register. I resorted to plain English and said it at a significantly higher sound volume. The driver, startled, immediately steered to his right, in order to stop, and crashed into another car who was just passing him.
Naturally, both drivers came out of their cars and started to verbally fight over who’s fault it was. I paid the driver and gave him a 35% tip before we left. I only ‘just’ could afford the 80 cents that the trip now cost me in total.
Oh, right, so what’s with the title, right? Well, everyone seems to be doing it and I only dream. 23 days before my girlfriend arrives…