The Human Crossing

After fighting the storm crossing the vast Gobi Desert… I finally made it to Zamyn Uud, the last town for me in Mongolia before crossing into China. My heart was filled with sorrow when I reached this last town in Mongolia for me. After 2 months, I finally was leaving the country. I kept admiring at each Mongolian gers that I could catch on my eyes, each Mongolian faces and took deep breath to smell the Mongolian air one last time. Once in a while, I heard people speak Chinese here, which make sense since China is just 3 kilometers ahead.

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Mongolia gave me a sweet memory… a good experience that no currency of the world can buy. The hospitality of the descendent of Genghis Khan is unmatched. Probably the best in the realm of Central Asia. And the smiles in their faces are no fake. They might look big and aggressive at first, and dirty and wild especially the horsemen in the countryside, but once you greet them in their language, “sainbainuu” which means hello, they will reply you together with a friendly smile. And the next thing you know, you are already inside their ger tasting the Mongolian tea together with their family… laughing and talking even though there is a problem with communication.

train station in Zamyn Uud

train station in Zamyn Uud

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And living my life on the road for quite some time now, I kinda know on how to differentiate between the pure and fake smiles. The secret is not to look at their mouth, but on the eyes. Human eyes hold many secrets. Even on a handshake, studying the person’s eyes while shaking their hand, able to tell you many secrets. Our brain… are well connected to our eyes by millions of optic nerves. So any activities that are happening in our brain, can be seen through our eyes. But only the trained people know this secret. Genius people of the past centuries. Only now, the scientists are trying to reveal the secret once again….

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I cycled around the small town of Zamyn Uud, to watch the activities of the local people here. It’s a very small town and I guess the centre of this town is the train station, where I see the biggest building standing proud filled with banks, atm machines, restaurants and cheap hotels. After admiring this last town of Mongolia for me, I then rushed for another 3km towards the border checkpoint. It was quite tricky crossing the border… just because I cant cycle for a few hundred meters in the no man’s land between China and Mongolia. So there you go, I have to get my bike on a truck just to get to 200 meters towards the Mongolian checkpoint. It wasn’t long in Mongolia, only some 20 minutes, which is fine with the long queue, then I successfully got the stamp out on my passport. Then again, I had to get my bike in another truck to cross another some 300-400 meters towards the Chinese checkpoint. My god, with my bicycle that looks like a minimarket, it took a while to get it up and down the truck.

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And the second truck, was a bit rude. After sending for some 300-400 meters towards the Chinese checkpoint, he demanded me to pay him. I agreed and wanted to give him all my remaining Mongolian tughrik since its not so much and I wont be using it anymore, but when I took my wallet he looked and simply took 100 chinese yuan from my wallet without my permission. Then he walked away fast without saying a word. I just let him go but he should have at least asked me first.

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Once I got into the Chinese checkpoint, another problem came. I was stucked almost 3 hours inside the immigration building, and this time the queue was shorter than the one on the Mongolian side. I have no idea what was going on since I couldn’t understand a word what they were saying, but it seems that I have a problem with my passport. Maybe they also think that I’m a spy, since they were questioning about my gopro camera…which I guess they never seen such a small camera before and even checked all the pictures inside. They also checked each sms on my phone. And the most funny thing, while waiting for too long, I started to feel bored and started to play some games on my phone, and they were checking it too!… asking what kind of program is that. Hehe…. How can a spy cross a land border on a bicycle fully loaded bringing big cameras? Im really such a lousy spy then… since Im attracting too much attention :)

Erenhot, first town for me in China

Erenhot, first town for me in China

so many green dinasours here

so many green dinasours here

A couple of dinasours doing french kiss in the middle of the road...

A couple of dinasours doing french kiss in the middle of the road…

After 3 hours of waiting and scratching my head, they finally let me go. Once I got out from the building, I see nice and well managed road, and people started to speak Chinese here. “Sainbainuu” has been replaced now by “Ni hao”. Im now in China. I then took a good rest in Erenhot, the first town for me in China. I find it so easy to cycle here, I cycled over 130km a day without much struggle, thanks to the very good road. Comparing to the Mongolians, the Chinese are more curious. Cars and motorbikes are slowing down whenever they passed me, studying my my loaded bicycle, then the colours of my skin and finally the shape of my face, probably wondering which part of the world I came from. I started to pick up my chinese language again once I’m here, and the locals were happy and laughing and smiling whenever they see me struggling pronouncing each chinese words while talking to them. And not much struggling going through the road here, since the road is so good and flat in the Gobi, compared to the Mongolian steppe. But I miss one thing here, no more Mongolian hospitality for me. But still, since I started traveling on a bicycle 4 years ago, the best hospitality, the best people Ive ever came across is the Scandinavians, both the Swedish and the Norwegians.

China side of the Gobi Desert

China side of the Gobi Desert

and the good road starts... in China...

and the good road starts… in China…

7 Comments on “The Human Crossing

  1. What an emotive place. Its enough to spur the wanderlust in us all. I remember the thrill of being beyond my comfort zone in Vietnam and Laos… tinged as it was, and is here here too, with the humbling admiration of a people who live hard but not desensitised lives. Thank you.

  2. Amazing, amazing photos. The HDR of sunset photos is to be reckoned with. Well-balanced and crisp clear. I hope one day you could share your photography techniques and gears. I’m itching to know what camera and lens you use. May Allah bless your journey.

  3. Funny … I am missing the dreamy, surreal Mongolian landscape too! China appears too modern and real. Keep taking pictures of the sheep! … that should be okay I think. May Allah SWT keep you safe.

  4. Thanks for your visions of Mongolia. I have not seen anyone present it quite as amazingly as you do. It’s been fantastic following your blog since you’ve been there – here’s to more adventures!

  5. Erenhot….the two dinos kissing…it has always be in my wish list since the past 2 years..I will pose in front of the two dinos with my bike one day, inshaallah :)
    Anyway, how far is the dinos land mark from Zamyn Uud? And thru my reading, I thought that there is a newly built paved highway from UB all the way down to the border? Or u hv taken a secondary road instead?

  6. 100 yuen? And they just snapped it out from your wallet? So cruelll… That’s a lot, Hariz.

    But I know, you will earn more than the snatched value through out your journey. Amiin.

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