We wanted to go for a hike. To some trees. So we did some research, found a few blog posts, and knew we needed to get near the Zaisan Memorial to get near the hike’s starting point. One blog post said catch the 7, 33 or 43. So, being the gallant adventurers we are, we packed our backpack with some water and a snack and walked to our neighbourhood bus stop. The first bus to arrive was the 7. We jumped on and were excited because it wasn’t too that crowded and Marian got a seat fairly fast.
“Oh oh,” Marian says, “The bus just turned off the road we need to be on.” We didn’t react fast enough and soon we were careening down Chinggis Khan Avenue. We could have gotten off on any stop, crossed the street, and caught the bus back but we decided to just stay on the bus to see where it went. The beauty of most bus routes is that they often come back the way they went so the only consequence of taking the wrong bus is some time sightseeing instead of getting to your destination. Turns out we had lots of sightseeing since the #7 goes all the way out to the airport-about a 17 km run. So two hours and 33 km later and after seeing some new parts of Ulaanbaatar, we returned to the hotel.
We had a pee, a coffee, and hit the blogs once more. We soon abandoned them and turn to the bus app. With Marian working Google Maps and me on the bus app, we did our best to learn to read the names of the various bus stops (the bus app use the Cyrillic alphabet so it took a bit to look through all the routes to find out which ones went to Zaisan and which ones stopped outside our hotel. Turns out the winners were routes 52 and 55.
Grabbing our bag once again, we got back on the horse and headed out to the bus stop. The 52 came shortly and we hopped on. No crowds and we easily got seats. 15 minutes later we were at the last stop on the route and trying to find our way through the urban sprawl to the hiking trail we’d read about. We started walking uphill through many concrete skeletons of developing buildings, asked a few folks (none of whom answered in English-though 2 fingered pantomimed walking worked well-and we found our way to some trees. And found a hill to climb until the thunder and lightning got too close so we retreated back down and gave thanks that the clouds decided not to burst on us. The trees were huge green, and Larch and it was great to be amongst them. We walked back to the main road and decided to visit the Golden Buddha we’d seen a few times driving by. It was a gift from the country of South Korea and a monument to peace. We’ve visited many peace memorials and monuments in our time here-and prayed for peace in our world each time.
So the lesson today, a corollary to one my Buddhist teacher taught me, is stay on the bus (or hold your seat). There is time to recover from a mistake and you might even enjoy the ride. And, just because an error was made doesn’t mean you won’t accomplish the task or goal, you might need a more creative problem-solving approach…or if all else fails, that’s what taxis are for 🙂