26.06.2012 - 26.06.2012
Nurvec, Kooka, and I returned to the caravan, which had started a bonfire to keep themselves warm as they waited for me. I explained to them that Kooka and Nurvec offered to bring 3 big army trucks to pull our caravan across the flooded river. I also explained to them that the road on the other side of the river is good. If we find a way to cross, we can arrive in Ulaangom in 2 hours while driving around the river would take 11 hours along a really bad road.
I noticed more and more Mongolian men on dirt bike/motorcycles appearing on our campout. They were coming out of nowhere, and it was hard to determine if they were rubbernecking or if Kooka called them to come help when the army trucks arrive [even though our team had not agreed to the army truck idea at all]
This is where it all becomes REALLY REALLY fun.
Confrontations between the Russian and Mongolians began. Our leader decided that we would sleep where we were, and in the morning drive 11 hours to the bridge over the river.
Since I knew both Russian and English, I told Kooka in Ringlish that we were going to sleep on location and drive to the bridge tomorrow, so he and his posse were free to go home. For some reason, Kooka would not leave. He pulled our leader aside, and later came to ask me to translate that Kooka wanted 60,000 tugriks [around 45 dollars] for his service. The leader, alongside some other stubborn Russians in our team, refused to pay him anything.
The Russians kept telling Kooka to go away, but he would not leave. He wanted his money. Kooka told me to tell the leader that if we decide to sleep on location tonight, it will be very dangerous. Half of the group should sleep, while the other half stays awake to keep watch.
Kooka and his friends wanted their money, and woundn't leave until they got it. Our leader finally decided to give him 40,000 tugriks. Kooka still wouldn't leave until he got the other 20,000. He explained that he needed the rest of the money to fix his 2nd flat and fill his tank.
The entire situation was really uncomfortable. After the leader realized that Kooka and his friends wouldn't leave, he gave up and surrendered the rest of the 20,000 tugriks.
The Mongolians left our team feeling defeated and cheated. They discussed amongst themselves how much they dispised Kooka for swindling us out of 60,000 tugriks. To be perfectly honest, I blamed the leader more than anyone else. I told him before to ask Kooka how much he would charge us, and this was our punishment for not listening.
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
We didn't feel safe in that area, so we got into our cars and began driving our caravan out of the open. The problem was that without Kooka, we had no idea where to go. We were lost. After an hour of circling around, the Hyundai minivan, along with its 10 passengers [myself included] got stuck in mud and couldn't get out. We had to spend the night in the cars. I have never expirienced more discomfort than sleeping in a car with 10 other people.
To be continued...