Saturday #48: Hello Sura

You may recall that I spent 21 days last fall on a Dragoman Overland expedition between Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. It was a test run of sorts. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately signed on for a 120-day trip between Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and Istanbul, Turkey. Saturday #48 was Day #3 of my journey along the Silk Road.

The route between Mongolian and Turkey is one of the World’s ultimate overland expeditions and the longest trip offered by UK-based Dragoman Overland. It will take me through Mongolia, China, Kyrgyszstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, across the Caspian Sea on a ferry, on through Azerbaijan, Georgia and much of Turkey, ending September 28 in Istanbul.

The first leg of the trip is actually a loop through Mongolia, beginning and ending in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. On June 20 I will take a 30-hour train ride on a leg of the Trans Mongolian from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing. After a day to myself in Beijing I will hook up with another Dragoman truck and a whole new group of people for the 100-day run to Istanbul.

I am one of 16 paying passengers on the Mongolian loop. There are two Dragoman drivers and two Mongolians who act as translator and navigator.

Crew
Neill…………. Dragoman Driver/Mechanic (The Netherlands)
Rachel……… Dragoman Driver (Wales)
Bayaraa…… Guide/Interpreter (Mongolia)
Amaraa……. Navigator (Mongolia)

Passengers (A-Z)
Ally……………. marketing (Australia)
Katherine….. life coach (USA)
Claire………… tour guide (China)
Clarissa ……. risk management (Australia)
Ethelene …… Insurance (Canada)
Frankie …….. student (UK)
John …………. tax specialist (UK)
Yoram ……… retired police psychologist & hostage negotiator (Israel)
Marie ……….. author (USA)
Mike…………. retired broadcaster (Canada)
Mitch ……….. construction (Australia)
Renee ………. student (The Netherlands)
Rob …………. student (Russia)
Ros …………. veterinarian (New Zealand)
Stef………….. retired prison nurse (Australia)
Zoe …………. critical care nurse (Australia)

For 15 years I compiled “trip notes” for horses that raced at Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks in Ontario, Canada. With my own style of shorthand I would scribble notes during the race and transcribe them the next morning. These notes gave me a little more insight into how each horse raced. Where the general public had access to charted lines (the horses position at 5 points during the race), my trip notes went into detail describing the little things that happened during the race that otherwise slip between the cracks.

For example, the scribbles on my program describing one horse’s trip might look like this:

O5 / CF / FDCPH / CHH / NF / DS / BWP / LKB V

After the race I would update my database with a note like this:

201/4/09/20, Race 5, Locomotion Lobell: Off gate 5L, caught field, flushed dull cover past 1/2, checked hard, no flow, ducked inside at 7/8ths, blocked with pace to wire, left knee boot down.

Over the next three months I will be posting daily “trip notes” describing what I see and do along the way between Ulaanbaatar and Istanbul. I will write them daily but they will only be posted when I have access to wi-fi which may be very infrequently. This content may not be as entertaining as a weekly short story but I know that I will want to look back on it in the coming weeks, months and years.

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