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Author: Maria Zehentner
Beitrag vom: 29.12.2017

Home is calling!

Austria – Mongolia, September - Oktober 2017

After a 16-hour flight with a stopover in Beijing, we landed in Munich. Flying is for us the most uncomfortable thing you can imagine. Enviable, if you are one of those people who cuddle up after the start in their neck rolls, and wake up at least when landing. We definitely do not belong to this group. Despite square glitches, caused by hours of television and black rings under the eyes, we passed the customs and did not fall under suspicious persons.

Slowly, a comforting feeling spread through my stomach. Good old Germany! We could not only read posters and information signs, but also understand them accordingly. And whether we wanted to or not, we picked up scraps of conversation from the people around us. After more than ten months, we entered familiar territory. On the one hand weird and unfamiliar, on the other hand I was looking forward to it for weeks.
We grabbed our backpacks and headed towards the exit, where our friends Andrea and Arthur should be waiting for us. My eyes flickered nervously as the sliding doors opened. They were waiting for us with a big smile and headed towards us. We carry our luggage down and fell into each other's arms. I was built close to the water, so tears were running down my face like hell.
The drive to Salzburg passed away very quickly. We chattered and skipped stories. Lennox was sitting in the child seat, tugging at the belt again and again. He was no longer used to sitting in a chair while driving.
Culinary we lacked nothing the last months. Those who assumed that we came back emaciated, are wrong. Rather the opposite was true, unfortunately! But there was one treat, we were talking about for weeks. What? Arrived in Eugendorf, the residence of Andrea and Arthur, we stopped at the village butcher and literally stormed his shop. Different variants of liver cheese orders were jumbled out of our mouths. With mustard, pepperoni or pickles, priceless! Do not laugh! There is no such thing outside of Austria and it can actually be counted as a piece of home culture!
After we had eaten easily, we got back into the car and drove to their house. They had not only picked us up from the airport, but we were also allowed to live with them for the first few days.
Leander did not have much time to enjoy his homeland. A handful of errands and a meeting with our closest friends for dinner, then he had to pack again to make up for Munich. Time was running so fast. The Octoberfestival was just around the corner. As many years before, he earned as a waiter good money, which we had already budgeted for the next leg of our trip.
We spent ten months nonstop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For many unthinkable, but most of the time was harmonious. Of course, there were situations where one could slump down the other, but that happens in any healthy relationship, right? Therefore, the spatial separation of the next few weeks would certainly not hurt us. After a last good-bye hug, he got into a friend's car and drove off. I stayed with Lennox and a long list of errands.
Lennox blossomed at home. Laurin and Ben, the children of Andrea and Arthur were balm for his soul. He picked up everything he had missed so much in the last few months. Children he could play with. Without squabbling, they spent hours building Lego or powering out in the garden. This gave Andrea and me time to talk to women, which I had missed so much, while traveling with two men.
But also Lennox`s and my time in Austria was tightly calculated and did not only serve for recovery. Doctor appointments were pending, truck parts had been ordered to take them to Mongolia, cost estimates for shipments had to be obtained ... hundreds of thousands of trivial things to organize and a lot of paperwork. And not to forget, I had to apply for visas. Juhu, one of my favorite pastimes! While Mongolia visa worked smoothly in Vienna by post, the Russian Embassy in Salzburg made four antagonisms before they were satisfied with the documents.

We did not want to overstrain Andrea, Arthur and the kids with our stay. Already during the trip I was able to organize the summer residence of Flo and Nina, also dear friends of ours, in St. Wolfgang at the so called Wolfgang lake. The two are really awesome. Without batting an eyelash it was natural for us to stay there for the whole time. Not that we were bad at the family Braunstein in Eugendorf, quite the opposite. They pampered us and took us naturally in their family. However, it was important for me to spend time alone with Lennox, and I also hoped for some rest. And where does this work better than in the Salzkammergut, one of the most breathtaking areas Austria has to offer? A house, idyllically nestled in the mountains of the area overlooking the Wolfgang lake.

In order to get there at all, and in consequence not to be completely out of the way, we needed a car. I could not afford a rental car for three weeks. At this point Marina and her family helped. From their depot of rental cars, I got a BMW with far too many horsepower provided, I had to pay nothing for the car, except a full tank, when bringing the car back.

Why I think of a funny story. One night I made my way to Munich and visited Leander at the Oktoberfestival. The 260 horses under the bonnet made themselves felt fat on the German highway. Both hands clenched tightly around the steering wheel, the right foot on the gas pedal, and loud music boomed out of the loudspeakers. Passing traffic signs and trees disappeared in the tunnel view. So Michael Schumacher had to feel on the way to the home stretch. The funny thing was that the rest of the road users had even faster cars than me, because almost everyone overtook me and pressed the flare. At a glance at the speedometer, a smile came over me. I leafed through the asphalt at a whopping 80km / h and almost got my knees weak. The last months in the truck at 20, 30 or even 60km / h had messed up my sense of speed. ;-)
But back to our friends, where one thing needs to be said. You helped us without big words and gave us a hand. Thank you very much, you are priceless!

Of course, there was a little time left to go into a recovery mode despite all the errands. Two or three times lennox and I walked into the beautiful village of St. Wolfgang for food shooping. The funny part was that we felt like tourists in our own homeland. Not because everything was alien or we did not know each other. No, because St. Wolfgang was swarming with foreign guests. We licked ice on the lakeside promenade and laughed at the buzz. Glad, not beeing those ones, who had no idea of language, desperately searched for a supermarket or doing sightseeing. Feeling at home on a patch of earth or feeling safe gives you the feeling of safety and wellbeing.

Of course, this beautiful, heartwarming feeling was rounded up by all the lovely people who visited us. I was finally able to embrace my big son again. Lennox was happy to see his girlfriend from the kindergarden aswell, whom, he is sure, he will marry when he is adult. And also all the others, who were not mentioned by name. We enjoyed the little time we were allowed to spend with you and keep the memories in our hearts to be able to pull away for a long time.

In the evening, when calm had returned to the house and Lennox was already asleep, I occasionally sat down in front of the blazing chimney and sank in thought. I caught myself thinking about, what it would be like to stay here. But I realized very quickly that the current "holiday romance" would not last forever. Old familiar things such as work, home, stress, media, kindergarten, money ... would hurl us faster than we would like back into a daily routine, which we actually wanted to escape with the trip? We loved to travel with Akela, to discover new countries, to find helpfulness, to fight through ... yes, of course, even when traveling, you fall into a daily routine. But priorities shift and problems become more essential. We have learned to not turn a mosquito into an elephant. And suddenly I felt a smile on the lips. I wiped my tears away, and was looking forward to traveling.

The day of farewell came closer and closer. The preparations were completed and also the Oktoberfestival went into the final spurt. After 17 days of carrying heavy beer glasses, I picked up Leander`s tortured body from Munich. We got into the car and drove to St. Wolfgang, where we spent two undisturbed days.
And then it was time again. The taxi service to the airport this time took over Leander`s mother. Saying good buy to the only grandchild is hard for any grandmother, but she bravely struggled.

With a stopover in Moscow. At 6am local time we landed in Ulaan Baatar. It was zero degrees on our arrival, warmer than expected. Tired we trudged to the baggage claim and waited. Little by little, our belongings appeared on the conveyor belt, except for a box we had given up. It remained missing. We headed to the Lost & Found counter, where we were handed out a letter, and told to come the next morning punctually at 7am. God, how annoying! We had nothing better to do.
We left the airport building, checked out a taxi and drove to the Oasis, where hopefully Akela would wait for us undamaged. The more we approached the guesthouse, the faster our hearts pounded. Flashes of thought shot through our heads. Hopefully no lines were frozen !? Did the batteries survive the long standing time? Our subframe, shit, that was still broken ...! As we got out of the taxi at the sliding gate of the hostel, our good piece was already beaming towards us. At first glance everything seemed to be ok from the outside. Leander unlocked and we entered our home. Ah, darling home, what a feeling!

Inside it was just as cold as outside. Bit by bit we brought our oldie back to life and it all seemed to work, even the heater, yihaa! After everything was back in its place, we dedicated ourselves to the first big action. To catch up on sleep! All three of us fell very fast asleep. The rest of the day was not exciting either. Like wet sacks, we dragged ourselves back and forth between Hostel and Akela, just waiting going to bed again.
Still feeling jetlag in my bones, I sat at dawn in a taxi and drove to the airport in the hope that our parcel had arrived. And behold, it was already waiting for me. I went back in a good mood, where I still found my two men in the land of dreams.

It did not help, we still had to deal with the "subframe" problem. Leander was from the work we had begun before we left Mongolia no longer convinced, since the adhesive method in this cold did not work anymore. The idea was whether we really had to figure out $ 400 for the two Russian engineers to continue with a clear conscience?
While our gray cells were preoccupied with thoughtfulness, old and new guests began to thrive in the Oasis. Pierre and Theresa with their Unimog, Stevan and Hans, two Americans who just came back from a multi-day mountain bike tour, and also some new faces were there. Which made the whole situation much more comfortable.

One felt better off exchanging ideas with others. Of course, nobody could take the decision how we should act.
It would make little sense to look for more options. So I set off to Ayruna in the hardware store, hoping that she could motivate Sergei, the Russian engineer, to return to the hostel. She immediately recognized me as I entered her office. I briefly described her our need, whereupon she reached for the phone and called Sergei. He was persuaded to stop by the Oasis this morning. I was relieved, because it would have been understandable that he had shown us the cold shoulder.
The next day he did not hesitate for a long time. $ 400 in advance, cash on the claw. Negotiation base is zero. Every time we tried, he turned around and went back to his car. A persistent businessman! We ridiculed the stupidity of anyone who paid for a service in advance. But in the end, we did the same thing and worried until the next morning if Sergei would pick us up to go to the workshop or not.

He kept his word and came! We followed his car across the city and landed in a suburb. After a fierce parking maneuver due to super narrow roads, we dropped Akela off in his forecourt. Who thinks of a workshop now is wrong. He had already prepared the required material, he took a tool from a shed and worked outdoors. Brrr, it is always gigantic to watch the Russians deal with the cold. While we were wearing three jackets over each other and still freezing, Sergej's work clothes consisted of a lined leisure suit. He did not waste any time and immediately went to work with his helper.
Baisa, his wife, who welcomed us kindly, was a big surprise for me. She spoke English and some German and asked me to come into the house with Lennox and help her cook. While peeling potatoes, she gave me a little insight into her hometown. I already knew that Ulaan Baatar was the coldest capital in the world. Apparently the dirtiest, as far as the air pollution was concerned. The entire winter thick fine dust clouds are hanging over her. For seven months, the temperature in the city drops to minus 30 degrees. Many people still live on the outskirts in traditional yurts or simple wooden houses.

They heat with coal and wood. Although the government provides the yurt dwellers with electric stoves, people can not afford the electricity they need. Even the apartments equipped with central heating are powered by coal-fired power plants. Breathe properly and enrich the lungs properly with fresh air is not necessarily recommended in the city. The bottom line is that the immense air pollution leaves people with health impairments and damage to the respiratory tract, especially among the little ones. Money for doctors or medicine is seldom left.
Nestled between the raw material giants Russia and China, Mongolia has long been considered an Eldorado for mineral resources. Now the air seems to be out.
More and more people live below the poverty line in the Central Asian state. Despite of the mineral richness, the people never see any money. The falling raw material prices, faltering mining projects and domestic disputes, where the reasons. Hard to imagine, that only a few years ago, Mongolia was the world's fastest growing economy. My stubborn cough, which already began to hurt, was not blamable on the polluted air. I already brought this annoying companion from Austria, and it got worse every day. Even Sergei's well-intentioned wonder drug, a glass of vodka with pepper before going to bed, showed no effect.

From the moment on where Sergei received money from us, his mood also increased. He was not as rude and brash as initially suspected. Gradually, he thawed and was even joking. His work was neat, thoughtful and thoughtful. For example, the U-profiles he used were already galvanized, to prevent rusting as a result. He and his colleague worked efficiently into the dark at Akela. Speech problems cleared Baisa this time, who was happy to brush up her rusty English and German again. When the two had finished the frame, it was already pitch dark night. It would have taken us at least an hour to get back to the Oasis, so we were allowed to camp in the garden. Sergei was a fiddler and hobbyist, so we showed him our wood stove, for which we had brought a special warmth keeping stone from Austria.
The stove should serve primarily as a backup for our diesel heating, which does not work always like we want it to work. However, the heating up with the good piece was closer to the purpose of a sauna. Very quickly, temperatures were around 40 degrees and you had to tear open all the windows to escape a heat stroke. If you stopped to refill, the heat fizzled as abruptly as it had arisen. Therefore, we brought the stones, hoping to heat more efficiently. But unfortunately we did not have the right device to attach it to the stove. Sergey looked at the good piece and considered. First of all, it was too late for today and everyone was tired. But he promised that he would make something and bring us the result the next evening in Oasis.

At night we were told not to get off Akela. In order to be protected from burglars, Sergei let his Do Khyi or Tibet Mustust dog run free in the garden. And believe us, nobody wants to meet this dog voluntarily, certainly not when it is dark!

Early in the morning we returned to the Oasis. My health was getting worse and worse. The strong cough was accompanied by earache and a strong headache. I felt like dead. My organic medicine and lot of tea drinking did not help, I had to see a doctor. Ulaan Baatar owns an international hospital. I had resisted for a long time, but now I was ready for it. I took a taxi on the way while Leander and Lennox stayed at the hostel. At the clinic I could choose between a Mongolian doctor for $ 90 or an "international" doctor for $ 180. I chose the Mongolian, with whom I was very satisfied. He diagnosed severe bronchitis and sinusitis and released me with a violent chemical bomb. However, I was more than ready to blast four different medications for the next few days, feeling like I was dying.

In the evening, as promised, Sergei came by and brought us the holder for the stone slabs that he had welded together. They fit perfectly and Leander had to mount them only at the stove.

To get some rest for me before we started, we stayed for two extra days in the guesthouse. It was a good opportunity to research prices and information for our onward journey. Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand were on the plan. Although I had already worked at home in this regard, but you always meet other travelers and receives new information or contacts.

On the third day, I felt so good that we could return to the tarmac. It was time, because doing nothing than sitting around, can drive you crazy aswell. We wanted to leave Mongolia relatively quickly and enter Russia. But before we made the long stage of 4,000km across Siberia to reach Vladivostock, we did some sightseeing and visited the exaggerated monument of the "Mongolian hero".

The largest equestrian statue in the world. Since 2008, the statue of Genghis Khan at Tsonjin Boldog has towered about 30 meters into the sky. It stands on a ten-meter-high pedestal, which in turn was built on a hill 54 kilometers east of the Mongolian capital.

His cruelty is legendary! Genghis Khan, the "impetuous ruler" of the Mongols, maiden name Temüdschin, created a world empire in Central Asia with wild horsemen. The neighboring peoples of the Mongols, especially in China and Siberia, Persia and the Caspian Sea, had little to oppose the tribal warrior.

After the visit, we took the northern route through the Darchan Uul region to the Russian border, which required us two full driving days. It became apparent that Mother Russia was approaching, because suddenly trees and even real forests appeared before our eyes. The region was extremely touristy. Unloving resorts were pounded out of the ground like mushrooms. We were blown away by a golf course in the middle of the nowhere, with perfectly greened tee-off areas - right in the middle of Mongolia! We had never expected anything like that! It remains to be seen that a golf holiday in Mongolia is traded in domestic travel agencies as the "Burner". Dreadful! What are we lucky to experience this wonderful country still halfway untouched and natural.

100km before the Russian border, we set up our camp for the last time on Mongolian soil before heading back to Putin's realm.

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