This Wednesday I’m getting on a jet plane for my Mongolia flight. I am so excited for my month in Mongolia, exploring whatever crosses my path. I’ll land in Ulaan Baatar (UB) in the middle of the night, assuming an on time arrival. This means I won’t get to see much until the next day. UB is the capital of the landlocked country, and has Mongolia’s lone international airport. I hear that pickpocketing is very common, but fortunately the biggest type of crime.

At worst, I’ll use my technique of standing in a crowd and calling out “English? Do you know English?” … As ridiculous as I would deem this strategy if anyone told me it were theirs, I can confirm that it is 100 percent reliable.

My big green backpack is nearly packed. Since I’m taking gifts for Dolgormaa, a friend from my university days, I’m also taking my big black wheeled duffel bag. Lots of luggage for a 4-week trip!

 

The Mongolia Flight

My total flight time is long — I avoid memorizing this disgusting number. I try to sleep as much as possible on planes. And, I dread the horrendousness of standing in a security line that curves round and round like a boa constrictor, but moves as slowly as a slimy slug. Next comes the soreness of cramped legs from sitting in a tiny seat, along with swollen feet for 10, 15, or however many hours the flight lasts. I do know that it will take approximately 24 hours from the time I step through my front door in California until I walk into my friends’ home in Mongolia, assuming that passing through customs and luggage collection takes an hour. This includes a 5-hour layover in Seoul Incheon airport in South Korea where I’ll have a change of airlines and transference of my luggage.

 

Pre-Travel Stress

I’ve never changed airlines mid-route before, and am wondering how my luggage will get transferred. I’ve never had luggage go lost or missing, and it’ll be a shame if this is the first time. I am actually freaking out about this. Do I have to collect my bags somewhere in Seoul? I have no idea!

I’m so nervous that my first Mongolia flight might not arrive on time and I’ll might miss the second flight.  Sprinting through foreign airports where I cannot read the signs is fairly difficult and stressful. For me, the transfer between flights is the most nerve-wracking part of any travel venture—can I make my connecting flight within the set amount of time? At worst, I’ll use my technique of standing in a crowd and calling out “English? Do you know English?” in a high-pitched, albeit shy and humble, voice. A more experienced tourist, or more likely a bilingual high school kid will sense my desperation and offer assistance. As ridiculous as I would deem this strategy if anyone told me it were theirs, I have found it 100 percent reliable in Eastern European train stations. Here’s hoping South Korea goes smoothly!

Traveling around Eastern Europe I asked for help in various train and bus stations. One day I went hiking with my Couchsurfing host (couchsurfing.org).

Traveling around Eastern Europe I asked for help in various train and bus stations. One day I went hiking with my Couchsurfing host (couchsurfing.org).

The next chapter in this story takes place at Seoul-Incheon airport.

Planning a trip to Mongolia? Read this Comprehensive Mongolia travel blog post. Or, just enjoy more Mongolia photos. Or, if I’ve bored you, and you want to start over, head Home!

Have a question or comment? Or, share your travel experience!

Have you visited Mongolia? Or, would you love a visit? There are plenty of hostels and hotels in all price ranges, in case you don’t have friends with a spare room. Comment below– especially if you have an embarrassing toilet story while traveling. It’s fun sharing funny experiences.