Mongolia, a confusing place

When I thought Russia was confusing, I did not know what would wait me in Mongolia. Russia is an example of rationality and systematic thinking in comparison to Mongolia. To quote Lonely Planet Mongolia:

Cynics say that the six most widely heard phrases in Mongolia are medehgui (don’t know), baikhgui (don’t have), chadakhui, (can’t do) magadgui (maybe), margaash (to- morrow) and za, which roughly translates to, well, ‘za’. Za is a catch-all phrase, said at the conclusion of a statement, meaning something akin to ‘well …’, ‘so then …’ or ‘ok’, and is a fiendishly addictive word.

Nobody really knows anything here. Streets have no names. Banknotes are confusing and numerous, with Mongolia’s very own numbers on the front. There are days when Visa is not accepted in stores without any reason. They play gangsta hip-hop (♬let’s get high together♬) on the speakers in public buses. Bus schedules do not exist or are not correct (and nobody knows for sure). Traffic is chaotic, traffic lights are rare, green light for pedestrians is even rarer. And not that anybody would even respect that. Getting anything organized here on your own is an exercise in futility. When asking for information, you get either the usual “don’t know” or a different answer every time. This mentality does not apply only to tourists, but locals seem to get the same treatment. Travelling on your own inside the country is less and less appealing due all the logistical complications, so the best option seems be to book an all-included tour. More expensive, but this way you delegate dealing with all the details of local mentality to other people. On the other hand, all these issues are kind of balanced by the goodwill of local people. When all the hope seems to be lost, a local pops out of nowhere to help you. This is the Mongolian way.

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