Part Four: Saving Private Bryan
Mongolia is a large country, with a small population and outside of UB, no real urban centers that Westerns would recognize as urban. Therefore, the best possible method by which to travel is to gather like minded individuals off the streets of UB, from the guesthouses, pubs and restaurants and form a travel party with which to share jeep, fuel and food costs. And the best possible method to do this is to already travel with such a group, so that upon arrival in UB, you can leave as soon as possible. However, if one finds themselves solo, then there is spade work to be completed before heading off into the hinterlands. Over the span of three days, I visited approximately 8 guesthouses and pubs/café over the span of three days, leaving messages at each one explaining my desired itinerary in the hopes that I would receive responses from like minded folks. Given that my mobile phone did not function in Mongolia and I did not fancy the idea of checking my email every hour, I would state a time and place each day that interested people would be able to find me. Three days, no responses. Not only were there no responses, but there was also an absence of messages from other travelers wishing to visit similar regions of the country. It seems that I had arrived in the middle of a Gobi desert fetish, with 95% of messages requesting people for Gobi expeditions, with the remaining 5% seeking people interested in purchasing used sleeping bags. I decided that if I had not found any one by that evening, I would be trekking off alone, utilizing public transport and my thumb to navigate the roads of Mongolia. When I returned to my guesthouse that evening, I happily noticed that someone had responded to my message. A party of 6 had my exact itinerary and were looking for a seventh to fill the last seat in the van. I wandered over to the guesthouse indicated on the message and joined the budding expedition. Apparently my excessive messaging had garnered myself a little bit of a reputation through out the traveling circles of UB. Everywhere my new traveling partners had visited they had found my message and everyone they had talked to in hope of finding a seventh person had mentioned that a “Bryan character” was looking for something similar. I was told that I was the most well known person in UB that no one had ever met. Hence, the mission to find the seventh person for this trip was dubbed “Saving Private Bryan”.