‘You do not know nothing,’ John shouted as he hung over me. I had to laugh. It did not matter to him what I thought he said, but he took the trouble to agree with me. Which I was not going to give him. I finally had a good meal, Italian, and a few good glasses of wine, so my evening can not go wrong anyway.
It was a nice ending to the day, because Andy, me and Henry (my former American travel companion) had seen the large – 131 meter high – Genghis Khan. Khan is the great hero who made Mongolia great in the 13th century. The empire reached up to Kiev and Istanbul and covered a large part of the world. Other great empires pale beside the empire of Mongols of that time.
Khan is therefore still greatly honored. I have already slept in rooms where he is hanging, but also vodka and beer are named after him. Politicians have not yet decided whether there should be a law to protect Khan’s name before it gets out of hand – if it does not already.
The statue is a good example of this. It is just outside UB and you are within 1.5 hours drive. We take a taxi and are there. It is gigantic (131 meters) and is in the middle of the meadows. The owners of the attraction claim that this is the place where Khan found his golden whip that brought him happiness.
I have a few minutes in the books about how big the empire was. It dominated Russia for 400 years, so they certainly do not see him as a hero. They think it’s a killer.
After Khan we went out for dinner. It goes against my principles to eat locally when you’re somewhere in a country, but I had such a need for good food that I proposed to go to a Bostonian restaurant (someone from Boston). Andy determined that it is the love that makes you, as an American, open a restaurant in Ulaanbaatar – I think that’s true. Nonetheless, the food and wine was delicious.
Henry is taunting, but I still feel like going to the cigar bar Andy is a big fan of. John and Nasa come in when we sit down for a while. John, well built around with men-boobs, comes from Ireland and builds houses for the Mongols. I think Nasa is a successful entrepreneur from Mongolia. He has a white shirt on which the bottom and top button is loose.
John blows high from the start of the tower. Of course we talk about politics. He and Nasa get a serious discussion about corruption in Mongolia. Where Nasa states that it is better if you assume that Mongolia is only a democracy for 28 years and John states that you can not work with the civil servants, because they are also replaced every four years.
Then we are talking about the houses in Mongolia where John claims that his company is building sustainably. He pays himself a little bit – for the sake of it he also says – to people to maintain it for a year or four. I ask how sustainable it is, because developments are very fast, so if you keep something for years like it is now. How sustainable is that?
I do not know why, but this gets in a chord with John who already has a lot of money when he comes in and still takes a few large glasses of whiskey when he talks to us. I am also tipsy and maybe go a bit too long. To the point where he is screaming over me.
“You do not know nothing,” John repeats as he rises and walks towards me. Nasa wants to intervene and asks why Andy does nothing. “She is fine,” he says quietly. We decide to go and walk home quietly. On the way back he defends that nothing did not do what is necessary. Andy can still sleep five hours before his train goes to Beijing and I will not do anything for a day, great!
The next morning I arrange a tour for the next few days through Mongolia. Henry is still sleeping. When I come back he is gone and there is a note. I have to swallow. We did not say goodbye while he was my travel buddy for two weeks. Quite crazy how you can attach so quickly, but it also feels great, the freedom of traveling alone remains liberating.