Strength & Courage Were Tested in Tsetserleg
Upon arriving Tsetserleg, I was welcomed with a group of curious young horsemen, probably as young as 10 years old, riding fast from the vast steppe to be near me, to look closely at my fully loaded bicycle. I cycled slowly heading towards the centre of Tsetserleg, tired after being fighting the endless headwind. I came here looking for a nice hostel, to celebrate my arrival in Tsetserleg with a good hot shower and a nice meal. It was a good feeling when I saw the town from afar, after hours of panting fighting the wind on the vast steppe, until I climbed over a false mountainpass when I finally saw the town of Tsetserleg from the high point.
This is the end of the good road for me… and soon I will no more be fighting the wind. I will turn north to get to the Siberian border, to a lake called Khovsgol, very near the Russian border and not far from the infamous Baikal Lake in Siberia. But the problem is, I cant find any way to get to the north. I will stay a while here in Tsetserleg to get some idea on how to get up north. Whatever my decision from here on, I need to complete this part of Mongolia by the 2nd week of April, so that I will have enough time to explore the southern part of Mongolia, crossing the vast Gobi Desert.
It was quite difficult for me to find a cheap place in Tsetserleg. Hotel owners refused to take me even the hotels were empty. And some said that they cant give me a room with bathroom. No shower in Tsetserleg. After almost an hour finding a place, I finally found a cheap hostel with a welcoming staff. And the owner is Australian… so all the staffs speak quite good English. As usual, I did my routine, once I get inside a hostel, I took a good shower, washed all the dirt away from my body to feel fresh and treated my empty stomach with good food. I then walked around the town to explore the everyday life of the people here.
While walking, a guy who looks like in his mid 30s, strong and tough… were looking at me with one kind of look. I can read from his eyes that he was filled with anger and hatred. He then shouted at me and walked fast towards me. I stood still… never moved an inch. He then shook my hand with a different kind of handshake. He shook my hand real hard… he was testing my strength. I tried to challenge his strength with the handshake. He introduced himself, saying that he is the head of the thugs in the town and he owns this town, not the police. He then asked me for money. I said I don’t have anything to give, I have some money but I’m a traveller, its not much and enough only for me to survive while I’m in this land. He pointed his finger to a nearby bank and wanted to drag me there, asking me to draw some money to give to him. I simply apologized, I said you got the wrong person. I’m not a rich tourist, I’m just passing through this land. He was studying my face, trying to find any fear inside me but I managed to kept all my fear away… so he couldn’t find any. After a while, he apologized… and told me to be careful on the road and finally said “Baerte”, which means good bye in Mongolian.