Saturday, 23 February 2013

A little detained (by a man with a gun) on a wonderful winter walk

It was a mild day, but with a cutting 10km wind dropping the -19C to around -30C. That said after walking through the park over the 'waste' ground and up the road to the river we turned into the wind and headed east for the first time. It was fun, there were a bunch of kids playing what we used to be call 'murder ball' on the ice. A kind of no rules rugby, they were having fun but it looked  both tough and cold.
We passed groups of men pruning/coppicing trees at the side of the river - probably collecting the sticks for something, but for what I have no idea. Further down the river the ice was regularly lying on the surface in glistening chunks, far prettier than the glistening vodka bottles that will replace them in the summer.

Now that's what I call an ice 'cube'

The stroll was pleasant despite the wind in the face. It was interesting to see the tracks cut into the snow both on the actual river and on the hillside to the south. Clearly the weather does not effect our Mongolian hosts as they continue to walk, play, ride and drive just about anywhere.

I wonder if the ice cracked before after or while the cars were using it...

The walk home was warmer and with the wind at our backs positively pleasant. However as we cut across the waste ground and back into the park we heard a shout from behind us and were eventually caught by a young man in uniform. He chirped away in Mongolian and was not for letting us go on our way. A quick phone call to a Mongolian speaker, and we handed over Sarah's phone and there was a lot more chirping. Then his tubby little mate turned up sporting a much more assured air and a holster containing something, might have been a pistol or he might just have been pleased to see us.  There was more chirping over Sarah's phone and we were marched back to the road. Our ID's were photographed, our bags searched and after yet more phone calls and translations we were sent on our way down the road. Apparently we had entered the land 'inappropriately' and had crossed protected land. The fact that I had been doing this at least twice a week since August and that we were quite literally walking in the footprints of  many many others seems to have escaped this particular 'guard'. At one point in our proxy communication it seems our translator threatened to have him reported to the human rights commission for detaining and searching us for no good reason. It was at this point that he said he would apologise for the inconvenience caused if we apologised for...well... being there.  Another expat was watching all this from across the road with a smile on his face and a beagle at his feet. Apparently this particular guard seems to like rousting expats and had 'detained' him  previously. Apparently the waste land is protected land and despite the fact it is scheduled to become part of the park within the next 10 years, it is at present under the protection of the military and this particular member of the military takes his 'protection' duties very seriously. It is after all his job so why not, I take my job seriously. Oh well it's all experience.  Personally I think our detention may have been something to do with a show of power to the largest group I have ever seen walking up the road - at least 30 young ladies were strolling at the side of the road and I think maybe these two young soldiers just wanted to be noticed. Sadly for our new soldier friends the girls had gone by the time they got us back to their hut at the roadside.

No comments:

Post a Comment