Okay what better to do after getting BBQed then go to the dessert, right. Or maybe the desert…
Well we have seen a lot on our trip but we haven’t seen a desert so it looked appealing. Since our Yurt excursion didn’t go as planned we were short on time. Unlike most of out trip we decided to go the quick expensive route instead of the relaxed local route. Our time was cut even shorter than planned because the express bus that we took to Bautoa got a flat tire half way between the two towns. Luckily we were only a few km from a little town with a row of mechanics, so we limped to the town (10 min) and had the tire changed (30 minutes). So after the pit stop we arrived in town about 3:30pm. The bus station we arrived at wasn’t on our map so we had to get a taxi to the train station to hopefully get a sleeper train for the night. After passing on some absurdly high taxis we started to walk and found a cheap taxi just a couple minutes from the station. So he took us over to the train station, we booked a night train and stored our bags. We negotiated a price to have the taxi take us to the nearby “resonant sound” sand dunes and back in time for our night train. When we got to the dunes the taxi guy did what all taxi drivers do – try to milk us for every penny we had. Having already negotiated a price for the round trip we were quite appalled by his new price of $400 (double our original price). Since neither of us could speak a lick of the other language we we really couldn’t argue much but we seemed to come to some conclusion and thought we agreed back on the $200 price. So we did some charades to let him know we will be back in one hour and not to leave and he seemed to get it so we headed out.
We bought our entrance tickets and a tram ride to the carnival area to speed things up. Once we got there we rented some cool sand booties to keep the sand out of our shoes and walked over to the camels. Not really feeling up for a hour or half hour ride we tried to talk them down to a 15 minutes ride but had no success. So we wedged ourselves in the humps and hit the sand dunes. My camel as you may see had a lame hump, it leaned to one side but he worked out pretty good. The saddles consisted of a couple wool blankets, not very soft, but they were like siting on a heated seat. Probably a good thing since our butts were pretty sore from the horses the day before. After out 30 minutes of pain we unmounted from our camels and found the sledding hill. The sand sledding hill was scary huge -you’d have to be crazy or Pete to go down this if it were a snow hill. After thinking about it for a couple minutes we decided we can’t go this far without doing it so we each bought a ticket. Cara was still too scared to go, so I slowly sat on the little wooded framed sled and the lady put my hands behind me and spoke some Chinese. She gave me the push and i was off and picking up speed pretty quickly and thats when I knew why she put my hands in the back, too steer and control the speed. Since the sled was so short if you braked a little more on one side then you started to turn so it was a constant battle to keep it straight because if you didn’t you would be eating sand no doubt. We both really enjoyed it and wanted to try it again but it was getting late and we had to go so we anxiously head back to the taxi to see if he was still around. The last time I had a taxi driver take me to a desert he left so I had to walk back, which worked out okay but this one was 60km a little much for a walk. Anyway our taxi guy was still there to our pleasant surprise and he didn’t even raise the price again. We still weren’t totally sure he understood we were only going to pay $200, so on our way back to town we were disappointedly looking throught the LP book looking for a phrase to argue why we aren’t going to pay the new high price he wanted for the taxi ride. We get back to the train station and give him the $200 we originally agreed on and he started to explain it was 400 and 120km……. so we said we would give him 50 more and with much more discussion he reluctantly accepted.
I tell you…. We could’t get out of Inner Mongolia fast enough which was unfortunate because several of the local people that helped us in the bus and train station were unbelievably nice. Like when we booked our sleeper train we had everyone in the station watching us communicate with the information desk and the ticket counter as if we were an impromto comedy show. Everytime we tried to get something in public the locals would croud around and try to help us interpret.