måndag 9 maj 2011

Peak Oil on a Sunday Afternoon

Yesterday we were picked up by Bat-Erdene, Dolgon, Anujin and Misheel for a trip to Terelj national park some 100 km’s north-east from UB.

Bat-Erdene had borrowed his brothers Land Cruiser, since it is always better with a 4WD out in the countryside. Off we went. Going off for a trip in the countryside in Mongolia usually consists of some given components. Planning for delays is one of them. Ten o’clock could easily become twelve o’clock. If you are going away for a longer time detours to relatives saying goodbye are mandatory. Then we have the shopping moment. When everyone goes into a supermarket and pick what they want for a snack. Usually we end up with smoked meat, cheese, bread, fruits, sweets, juice, four to five kinds of beer and Chinggis vodka. Yesterday I added some fantastic pickled gurkins to that. (Probably imported from Eastern Europe.)

There we were, with nothing more to fix before Terelj. Fuel wouldn’t be a problem since the road east of UB is practically littered with gas stations. Only that this particular Land Cruiser runs on diesel. And the Russians have throttled the supply of diesel, probably due to lack of diesel in Russia. Of five to six gas stations none had any diesel and we were running low. Finally we realized that we had to turn around and go back to UB. On the way Master Fixer Bat-Erdene managed to negotiate to buy ten liters. However there was only six liters left in the pump. The last liters in UB? This was certainly a foretaste of what Peak Oil is going to mean.

No worries, though. Another component of Mongolian daytrips is flexibility. Somehow our friends always find a way out, no matter if it is finding a place for a picknick closer to town, while the wind is howling outside or how to find another way, off track, when a lorry breaks down (shortage of fuel?) in the middle of the road.

After lunch in American Ger’ll [sic!] we went up to a ger camp in the Southern mountains, namned after Bogd Kahn who had his winter residence close by. There we got our own ger, photo to the right, and an armful of wood. The most important layer in a ger is the felt, that keeps the cold at bay.

This is probably one of the most clever constructions I’ve ever seen. A small ger usually measures four meters in diameter and you could easily fit three beds and an iron stove in there. When it’s time to move you take everything apart and loads it on a truck, including the horses. In older times it was moved by horse and carriage, or even camels, but modernity has brought both trucks, TV and mobile phones to the nomads.

So, even though we reached peak oil on that Sunday afternoon we had a good day with our friends, as always. A daytrip in Mongolia is always fantastic, never boring and you can be sure you'll never leave the party hungry.

Photos: People finding a perfect spot for their gers. Diesel shortage. Digging for oil? Smoke coming up from our ger. Family moving. Bagi and Berndt tasting the Chinggis vodka. Dolgon with her lovely girls who are growing fast, Misheel and Anujin.

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