Day 181: Mongolia, where are you?

We are stranded in China.

Claire, in her infinite wisdom, did what Lara has basically been doing in every country: that is leaving her passport in our hostel because they kept it at check-in and we forgot that small fact. The difference this time, however, was that the desk clerk was not more on top of it than we were, so we do not have this passport.

We realized this when Chinese customs came around after 12 hours on the train at the border of Mongolia.

The result of this? We were promptly booted off the train. We then spent an hour reading us weekly in the immigration room while the officials discussed their disgust of us (we assume this from the motions, angry faces, and general tone of their speaking and looking at us) We then tried to speak English. They blinked at us. WE tried to explain what happened through two-person Charades in which Lara represented Beijing, and Claire a befuddled version of herself.

No go.

So they called some immigration dude in another part of the country who "spoke English." Claire then spent two hours on the phone with said guy trying to communicate what happened, and to explain over and over and over again that NO it had not been stolen. and to agree that YES passports are important documents that you should keep with you.

Finally, it became clear that we were not getting to Mongolia. So we went to a hotel. We found one and felt things were being solved. But then no one spoke English, and again, our charades in which Lara was a bed, and Claire tried to evoke the feeling of "two nights of accomodation" were unsuccessful. So, another hour passed in blinking, general laughter by the Chinese, and a lot of confusion on our part.

We did get a room eventually.

So, after over three hours of frustrated "communication", we stood in the FREEZING cold with the sound of christmas music being inexplicably played throughout the train station loudspeakers, as the train pulled back into the station (they have to change the wheels at the border of China and Mongolia because the train tracks are different sizes). Everyone climbed back on board; we had 3 minutes to get our massive amounts of crap off the train. People stood and watched. PEople laughed. We ended up throwing said bags off the train and then dragging them on the ground to the hotel as the customs officials also pointed and laughed.

It was a traumatic night. So here we are. Claire is holed up at the hotel, reading us weekly and drinking tea, while I use the very last of our yuan to get on email becuase I have to make application deadlines for the grad school I am supposedly attending next year. This lovely border town has nothing to offer really that we can see, including any ATMs so we are officially without any currency. This is an interesting twist we had not anticipated.

The end result of all this? No new videos, as there is understandably no laptop connection here. So here instead you can watch us in Singapore, where things were clean, organized and generally easy to talk to.

The Cartier Exhibit with Diana's disgusting dead rabbit of a purse:



And at High Tea at the Fullerton, where Diana explains her toilet index rating for determining a country's development scale:

5 comments:

Gabrielle said...

Hey! You can't just leave a post like that! You'll worry your mother (and the mother of Bobo and Grace)! What will you do?

Lae said...

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sarah mac said...

oh dear. to the third power.

bbop said...

Huh? What are you going to do? I need more information or assurance that you are OK in a Chinese border town with no passport and no English-speaking immigration guys.

FarmerM said...

double WHAT????!!! We are unnerved by this situation - hoping the fact that you are posting means it is resolved... we would imagine you would take the train back to get the passport.......

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