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Onward to Mongolia | Travel True
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Onward to Mongolia

Taken during a recent flying lesson above San Francisco

In a few hours I hop on an airplane to Mongolia. I’ve never been before, and I know very little about it. I saw a documentary partially set there once, and it showed people living in tents with cows, trying to stay warm. While this may still exist in the country, I am headed to the largest city in the country, Ulan Bator, where I suspect they may have discovered buildings with walls.

To be honest, I’m not even sure that’s how you spell the name of the city. I’ve seen it spelled several different conflicting ways, sometimes with a lot of extraneous vowels. This means I’m not even quite sure how it’s pronounced.

And I’m moving there today.

“This is how I live” is something I find myself saying more and more to people lately, as they ask about my lifestyle and what it’s like. I hop from country to country, sometimes for a day or two, sometimes for months on end. A good part of my time is just spent in transit. Hours on a bus, a day on a plane, a few minutes on a subway, a week on a train. A lot of the time they feel more like my home than any building I may be staying in.

Which makes sense, as I generally spend more time there than on any given bed or couch. Crouched over in a random airport terminal reading a book or wandering the halls with my iPhone out, hunting for free WiFi so I can figure out how I can get to my next destination.

That is another word that seems to have lost most of its meaning for me. Destination. Most people generally refer to it as a specific location, an end goal. These are kind of people who ask me unanswerable questions like “How much longer are you going to be traveling?” and “Where do you live?”. My destinations have typically become people now, as I figure out new ways of staying in touch with the kind of people that I am attracted to. Hilarious people who are making their way intentionally through life, as opposed to letting it happen to them. The kind of people who have the self-confidence to throw themselves into an absurd situation knowing they will make it out with a great story, and the humility to accept when it all falls through.

Laughing about the situation the entire time, naturally.

An unexpected miniature rave inside a winding labyrinth.

As we, these amazing people and myself, wind through the streets, we quickly discover that destinations are one of those things for when you feel lazy. A destination is an established place that you are going back to because it was amazing last time and will continue to be, so you can relax in knowing it’s a safe choice. Much more frequently we find ourselves walking, riding, and talking our way through random places, finding something that looks amazing nearby to try, once someone realizes they are hungry.

This is how we discovered the most delicious ice cream in the world, here in Berlin. We were wandering the streets between a shopping district and some sort of fair when we saw an artisanal chocolate shop. After perusing their gallery of different chocolates all wrapped in the same clear wrapper, we decided on the ice cream in a freezer off to the side. Specifically, I got the dark chocolate.

There’s a story my mother likes to tell about me, from around when I was 12 years old. I was generally kind of talkative, but during one meal I was particularly quiet as I was eating amongst everyone else. After a while of just eating in silence, I looked up and proclaimed to nobody in particular, “I. Like. Food.”

This generally holds true to this day. As such, the next few minutes after finding this dark chocolate ice cream are kind of hazy, as I kind of disappeared into eating. I do recall that it seemed like there was only enough ice cream to make it not just a cold scoop of delicious chocolate, and my friend recalls me making moaning noises. As this is all I’m left with, I am forced to reconcile this by concluding that this is the most delicious ice cream in the world.

Which makes me wonder what will be in Uulaan Batoor. What will be amazing there? Who will have amazing stories and things to teach? What will be the things that I tell friends “You have to visit, just for this.” about?

I honestly don’t know, and I really can’t wait to find out.

This is how I live, and this is why I live this way.

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2 Comments

  1. Ben Smith says:

    Hey Chris, best of luck on your new adventure. I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time!

    Smithy

  2. Chris Dame says:

    Thanks, Smithy! It’s already an adventure with lots of awesome people and crazy public transit. The internet is spotty and slow at best, but I’m hoping to fix that.

    Hoping.

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