On the road

I realized that out of the past 2 weeks of travelling I have spent 5 days on the road. Below is a very rough draft of what I have seen and thought of during these long hours of commuting. Also this is my first post, and I haven’t written anything legible in a while since school ended hhhhh. So please pardon the very very rubbish language – I tried my best but it was like writing my common app application essays: the more I read it, the stronger my urge to delete it all and start from scratch, yet to come up with something even lousier. There is just no way around a catastrophic first post. I’ll gradually pick up my flair though, don’t worry. And I will insert very suitable pictures for all my posts;)

There were long, square-angled natural channels that I mistook for artificial ditches right next to the road. The walls were nearly vertical.

I wonder when they will fill up, whether there are fishes ambitious enough to swim across the country. And if I fold all my secrets into an origami boat, will it sail to Мөрөн before I do?

I wonder whether these steppes are also home to the wildflowers I saw in Тэрэлж, eaten up by all the sheep and goats and cows and horses each spring before they could blossom, or there have never grown any in these vast swathes somehow.

I wonder what it was like to be a wolf with night vision, race against the wind and howl at the moon at night.

When I was still in SG, I wrote somewhere how I was looking forward to seeing an actual horizon unobstructed by buildings. The reality is that Mongolia isn’t a plain at all. There have been only valleys so far. But now that it is completely dark except for the dim moonlight, right outside the window is a ‘horizon’. Slightly higher than any actual horizon, it could have been a ridge of mountains in the distance, or a hill right next to us. The line isn’t smooth, but long enough that I cannot tell where the mountains or the hill meets the actual horizon.


The bus driver had lifted open the ceiling window at the first stop point. Initially it made the bus even warmer. By the second stop point, the air outside was cool enough that there was no need for aircon at all. Half past 11pm however, the temperature started to plummet. We were sitting close to the ceiling window, and the wind mixed with drizzle smashed my face, chest and legs through the single layer of windbreaker. Too shy and tired to ask the driver to close the window, or borrow an extra jacket from 大姐 (out of all time, seriously), I held up the heavy backpack in my lap to block the wind and crouched forward so that my back braved the wind. It was probably the most awkaward posture I had ever been in.


I was waken up at odd times throughout the night, first by the chill, then a few times by the blinding ceiling lights whenever the bus stopped, and finally waken up for the day by the TV blasting skits that very much resembled Chinese 小品 sometime past 6am. I wondered if anyone on the bus would want to watch skits at 6am. Anyways, I was near. Somehow the same river that flew down from Тэрэлж still meandered not far from us. This was one hell of a hardworking river. Narrow, shallow (the pools were practically two-dimensioned) and completely dried up at places, it was nevertheless a lifeline that connected the heartlands before roads did. I was not comfortable with calling it a river at first. But it really was, dying off and coming back to life over and over again.


Q: What is the leading accidental cause of accidental death among dogs in Mongolia?

A: From holding their pee for too long.

Written in Мөрөн, 14th July 2019.

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