Gers Gone Wild (which you may or may not have seen already) was a 3 week romp through the spanktacular and diverse scenery that is on tap in Mongolia. Many days of driving, countless adventures, heaps of new stuff, no shortage of challenges: it was everything that travel is supposed to be, and one of the best expeditions I had gone on.
Shooting these videos was one of the most fun projects for me, as it was a highly social expedition: up to 13 people (8 in our vehicle, 5 in the other). As far as anyone is concerned, I was glued to the camera about 90% of the time (with the exception of sleep and toilet missions), and as you can imagine, this yielded tremendous amounts of video, well beyond what could be used. Some of it was funny, but difficult to fit in. Some of it was plain stupid, but still funny (as most stupid is…). Some of the video was too good to lose, but too detailed and dragged out to have any hope of using in the final product.
So here is a nice little collection of the stuff that didn’t make it.
First scenes are from the plotting, planning and scheming at the Khongor Guesthouse in UB. It was an elaborate process, because despite the fact that I picked up a number of books and must have spent a month on the net digging stuff up, I still could not visualize the destinations and the reasonable times between them, the required logistics, accommodation, details of transport, and so on. It really was easier to show up, have someone hand an itinerary, explain the “what” and “when”, and then try to piece something together.
As is usual in these cases, we eventually lost the focus (about 3 minutes into the procedure) and the fun started. And of course, there was a mission to the department store to pick up our mascot, Fifi the Orca (who, for some reason, has a French citizenship and goes under the name “Fifi l’Orque” on Facebook).
Some deleted scenes of random jokey shit in the van (safety briefing a-la-Aeroflot) and then Alex teaches us some Mongolian phrases. It failed.
We got going, had some fun in and out of the van, and then Alex almost destroyed my camera during a complex group shot.
In this video you’ll some extra footage from the village. I couldn’t include that much in the video, simply because it wouldn’t add anything there, but I do want to share it here because it was a stunningly isolated, desiccated and remote little village that just needs to be seen. Then there is some more dancing/tomfoolery in the van, followed by an animal encounter: we spotted a bunch of horses and camels by the side of the road, which of course translated into a photo stop. Next scene was the van rescue, nothing super-spectacular, but I included it here without the soundtrack to place you right there, next to the screaming engine and the similarly screaming people (mostly me).
Then there was some more random stupidity: we invented an activity where we would jump and tickle some unsuspecting person in the van. Yes, it is stupid, but you know what, you sit in the van for 10 hours and see if reciting Dostoyevsky will entertain for long. Finally some more stupidity at the ger camp, and the girls going nuts. You may notice that this is where the title “Gers Gone Wild” was conceived…
Here we start with some extra footage from the Flaming Cliffs, followed by some scenes from Dalanzadgad (internet cafe and some music crap…). The main bit is the stuff we entertained ourselves with when the van broke down… I only showed a brief interaction with the shepherds in the main movie, but I thought it would be neat to show more, sans soundtrack. I purposely included the lizard stuff, because while someone is bound to cry a freakin river about the treatment the little fella received, the fact is, these guys are simple but friendly people, and we didn’t need to say much to them, we were just playing about, and it was all good fun. As it should be.
This video starts with extended, windy footage of the morning at the campsite near Yolyn Am. It was a stunning morning, the orange, glowing light painting the place with the nicest light a videographer could hope for.
Next scenes take you to the gorge where we go for a hike, do some climbing, crack plenty of jokes, and have a ball.
This is a big collection of random stupid clips of us doing various monkee-business at the Khongor Sanddune. The main reason I included it here is because I wanted to show the stupidity of that Czech guy complaining about the noise we were making. Not late, and not really THAT loud, he probably just did not expect to get that much of Gobi’s sand in his vagina, and felt all irritated. In any case, it takes all sorts to make a world, but I think there was too much of this guy.
Next day we went for a camel ride, which was nice enough, but it is very difficult to balance a camera while on top of those weird creatures. Next scene is on top of the dune, where we shoot some sunset, and then make a very feeble attempt at sliding down on the orca. Completely not what we expected, Fifi provided NO adrenaline at all… Stupid scene, but we were quite surprised that it would be THAT difficult to slide down a dune.
When we got into Kharkhorin, we headed to the Erdene Zuu Khiid, formerly Mongolia’s most important monastery. In “Gers Gone Wild” it is a short sequence with a soundtrack and narration, but here you find a slightly extended clip, with no distraction of music or words. Note the calm: we had the place largely to ourselves, which is something one really appreciates in Mongolia. It really seems that in this country, it really IS all about you and your adventure.
Mongolian Music by B. Baasandorj
The ger camp in Kharkhorin has some sort of arrangement with a local artist where he comes in and plays some traditional Mongolian music for the quests. Normally this sort of thing is not my cup as they tend to be cheap shows, but in this case the dude was quite skilled, which was especially evident when he was plucking away at his yatga.
Click on the following to hear (and see) the performance.
After all the touring was gone, naturally it was time to retire to the ger, which for us was a centre of laughs and ridiculousness. Afterwards there is a visit to a dinky bank, some stream fording, and a mass of beautiful scenery. Towards the end, I included some clips of strangely large vehicles that you just would not expect to see in the middle of the Mongolian steppe.
We sopped at some roadside pub/tavern/restaurant thing, which actually looked quite good, except that all the orders were completely mixed up and no one got what they ordered. And that was after a 30-minute wait. This was more funny than dramatic though. Heheh..
Eric is messing about with some poochies, trying his “awkward with dogs” petting technique, which yielded nothing at all.
Finally, we encounter a confused goat that totally owned a dog. Th poor poochie was totally terrorized by this crazy goat, and we were left to wonder about the sorry state of Mongolian mutts…
Same story as with the other monastery, I wanted to share the full collection of video from the place, sans the soundtrack. This one was totally void of tourists, only had half a dozen pilgrims, and we were free to do whatever. Very neat experience, and very neat architecture, which, for some reason, totally escaped the 1937 purges.