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Dear Mongolia

by Globetrooper Lauren | 20 Responses
Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Dear Mongolia,

I’m scared. Terrified. Apprehensive. But also excited. Pumped. And Intrigued.

I’ve been back-tracking this last month, thinking about why I signed up to this outrageous journey in the first place.

Who in their right-mind wants to continuously walk for not only one but two whole months, through a desert which happens to be one of the largest in this big wide world? Who would consciously agree to face thrashing sandstorms and daily 30 degree temperature changes?

Who chooses to acquire a plethora of foot injuries and be scared stiff by potential attacks of wild dogs? And all with a bunch of twelve other clearly deranged, thrill-seeking strangers?

We did.

But this adventure is going to be very different from others (apart from the obvious remote, desert, unknown, who-do-you-think-you-are crazy factors). Because it will no longer be with my dearly beloved, Todd (or Toddrick as I like to tease for having a short name that’s not actually short for his name).

I’ll be on my own. All alone. Ok, I’m exaggerating, there will be other people around. But when we initially thought it would be good to do our own solo trips, two long, lonely months certainly didn’t come to mind. And now there will be no one who knows me, no one who will hold my hand, and no one who can snap me out of my sugar-induced mood swings.

But that’s half the reason why I’ve decided to continue on my own. I don’t want to be hand-held, pampered, told what to do, or given all the answers. I’m empowered by the thought of independence, sole reliance, my own determination and expanding my comfort zone pants. And just imagine how fit I’m going to be afterwards! Muay Thai would be easy peasy.

And then comes the shock… I’ve been gobbling down alfajores (melting moment-type biscuits) and sampling the many, many varieties of decadent helado (ice-cream) just because there are so many in Argentina. Cookies and cream, Ferrero Rocher, Creme Marscapone, Menta Granizado, Chocolate Suise, Coconut, and that’s just three days worth. How in helado hell do you think I’m going to stand up to these abs??

Carrie Lee

Gobi bad-girl Carrie Lee not only kicks my butt in the muscle department, she's also 52! - Clee Images

Considering one of my best party tricks is the ability to look like I have a pregnant belly, I’ve decided not to show a comparison of my mediocre 1-pack. As punishment for the daily disneyland-for-my-taste-buds degustation when living in Buenos Aires for a month, I planned a beat-down at Push BodyStudio last week with my bad-girl Gobi team mate, Carrie (see abs above) and our Gobi 2011 Nutrition & Fitness Advisor, Tina (see abs below).

Tina Notarianni

Our official Gobi trainer, Tina Notarianni is no push-over - Clee Images

As the coming workout video will show, I was able to pull off most of the exercises with a smile. Because as most people know who have pushed themselves physically to the limit before (and what I stupidly forgot at the time), is that the real pain comes after… Not only is it a struggle to get out of bed the morning after, but I nearly steam-rolled Carrie’s dog when I attempted to bum-slide down the stairs. Walking down them like a normal person seemed like an activity beyond my comprehension without being morphine-induced. And then, after breakfast when I was trying to block out thoughts of my impending doom, we headed back to the gym for Round 2.

A few good sleeps later and I am recovered, at least physically. But there’s a hard, painful, treat-less road ahead. Not only in terms of getting freakishly fit so I’m not the Gobi tortoise, but doing so in a foreign country without the ease and comforts of home. And also not losing everything I’ve done thus far on a crazy, 2-week Indian train journey (I am preparing myself for more warranted stares than usual when I start doing girl-push-ups in the aisle).

I know I’ll get there eventually. All I need is a constant reminder of all the positives that will come out of this challenge at the end:

  • taking those last few steps of the 60-day trek;
  • creating some ‘through thick and thin’ friendships;
  • experiencing the raw lives and kindness of nomadic families;
  • developing my writing skills (epiphany: should I try to write a blog post every day?);
  • raising money and awareness for Mongolian children and their education;
  • building up more independence;
  • and having hardcore adventurer/desert-crosser gloating rights; just to name a few.

Looking forward to meeting and exploring you, as well as being taught a few lessons (more physical than spiritual I think).


Featured image by Emmanuel Berthier

Posted in Adventure Travel, Gobi 2011, Mongolia | January 31st, 2011

20 Responses to Dear Mongolia

  1. Wonderful article. Superbly written and nice to hear your real thoughts.
    We are just human and life is for living.
    You’ll do fine Lauren. I have every confidence in you.

  2. Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize you and Todd weren’t doing this together! This is incredibly brave of you, Lauren. It’s only human to have some last-minute anxiety and fears. But I’m not worried about you. I mean, you went into a prison with no guards, for goodness sake! You are stronger than you think.

    • Well, we were going to do it together, but it’s just not feasible leaving everything for 2 whole months. When we went on a 7 day tour in Peru, we came back to the website down, a paypal dispute and much more… times that by 60 days and who knows what would happen!

      • Yikes! Yeah, I see what you mean. Well best of luck to you! This is going to be a huge challenge, but imagine how you’ll feel once you’ve accomplished it. (PS. Don’t skimp on the water. Heat exhaustion is NOT fun.) That’s quite a team you’ve pulled together, btw.

  3. Great post Lauren! Less than 4 months to go now and it’s becoming more and more real. Can’t wait to meet the whole team — I’m sure we’ll all get on like a house on fire. Bring on May!

    • Yes, I am really excited for May too. Only 111 days to go! I really need to stop eating chocolate… damn it.

  4. Wow! You are very brave. I’m sure it will be an incredible experience and I can’t wait to read about it.

    • Thanks Ali :) I’m really considering the challenge of writing every day for the 60+ day journey, so you’ll have plenty to read from me

  5. Hi Lauren,
    You are such a brave girl! I am sure there will be challenges in this journey but as you say this is sometimes where you make strong friendships, learn things about the other side of life as we know it, and learn things about yourself and your own values. Glad that you are going with some strong people though and the trainer looks fab – no doubt she will have you in good shape by the time you go.
    Thought the article on this was so good – well done lauren – your mum xx

    • Thanks ma,
      The psychologist in you really came out there. Haha xx

  6. Hi Lauren, I’ve just read your blog, and am so keen to read more on what you’re doing. Yours is the first ‘voice’ of a real person that I’ve ever read in a blog. I like your style, and I find what you’re doing to be of real interest, and a bit inspiring too. I haven’t travelled yet, because I’ve never been interested in the run-of-the-mill stuff. I’m 44, I have let my fitness decline, yet I find what you’ve shown me here quite stirring. I hope that you do a few blogs on your adventure, even if it isn’t every day, or even if it seems boring to you. We want to read it!

    • Thank you so much Patricia, you’ve made my day. Perhaps starting out small would help you – i.e. travel locally but try something you wouldn’t normally do. And I will definitely write more, hopefully inspiring others to just get out there and do something different.

  7. The stars shining in the Gobi Desert Mongolia will light the way. You are exceptional and have evolved into an amazing human being…you are filling up on courage determination and stubborness and I salute you !! Indian Railway sounds far more tragic to me having travelled Poona to Bombay a few hundred years ago…..loved your article and writing style from the heart…..I will look forward to hearing and watching your progress ….love AM

    • Such kind words Anne marie, thank you. The Indian Railway Challenge might be more tragic in a culture-shock sense, but this will push my buttons in terms of fitness more than anything I’ve EVER done before.

  8. Hi Lauren
    Wow! That’s gonna be one tough trip – but you will meet loads of friendly and hospitable Gobi herding families along the way :) I’m sure you’ll end up in Ulaanbaatar at some point and we’d looove to make a podcast with you about your journey, either before you set off or on your return, or maybe even both (that’s entirely up to you of course!). Also, I’m sure we can arrange some free and comfy accommodation for you here in UB so you can have a good rest and enjoy the comforts of home :)

  9. You’ll do great. Don’t worry, when Dave and I cycled from Cairo to CapeTown we were under trained and under prepared, but mental toughness turned out to be the key. Your tough and you can do it! After a week or so into it, your legs will get used to the daily routine. I hope that we cross paths in Mongolia. We’ll be whizzing by in our cushy car though during the Mongol Rally though:)

  10. Wow I’m impressed! I’d much rather eat alfajores than bust my ass in the gym :)

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