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14 January 2006

U must take the U Train ... if you want to have some fun in Mongolia ...


My Suomi ain't so good, but I'm pretty darn sure this is the Train Route from Helsinki to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. (And Beijing's the next stop).

Well, I got as far as the architecturally gorgeous, thrilling Helsinki train station -- designed by Eliel Saarinen,
Eero's dad.

Now I look at this map of where my ticket could have taken me. I'm really sorry if my drool is dripping out of your screen.

It is just possible that my soul is Too Small to contain everything my eyes would see out the window of this train; something in me would explode or rupture somewhere around Omsk.

A frequent Vleeptron correspondent has a pal who went to Ulan Bator for FREE! Just part of the job, boss said: Pack your bag, you're going to Ulan Bator.

What's the metric system unit for measuring envy? That trip was worth about 321344.7 gigagreunen.

Since he first heard the name "Ulan Bator" on a squawky radio show when he was a kid in the 1920s, the American physicist Richard Feynman (Matthew Broderick portrays Feynman in the 1996 movie "Infinity") dreamed of going to Ulan Bator, and actually was making plans to go in the last year of his life -- but he never quite got there.

Vleeptron has other evidence that if you're ready for Ulan Bator, Ulan Bator is ready for Tourist You. I heard a wonderful story from a 15-year-old American girl who took a trip to Ulan Bator, but I can't tell you the story, because there's a Big Surprise in it, and if you go and do the Tourist Thing, you'll get the Big Surprise, too.

Where do people in Ulan Bator dream of going to in the West? In Amsterdam, a young guy from Morocco asked me lots of questions about Hollywood. "What is Hollywood like? Have you been to Hollywood?" He found it very annoying that I kept interrupting him to ask him lots of questions about Morocco. Dueling Travel Dreams. Dreamers heading in opposite directions.

Sorry Mongolia's having political trouble. Sorry Israel is having political trouble. Sorry Palestine is having political trouble. Sorry the USA is having political trouble. It's just the weather. It'll pass. Don't let it interfere with your travel dreams.

~ ~ ~

The Associated Press
Friday 13 January 2006

Mongolian government

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia (AP) -- Mongolia's parliament has dissolved its government after the largest political party pulled out of the 15-month-old ruling coalition, prompting two days of protests amid complaints about poverty and corruption.

No party immediately announced that it would try to form a new government following the vote late Friday to dissolve the government of Prime Minister Tsakhilganiin Elbegdorj.

But the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, which announced Wednesday it was pulling out of Elbegdorj's government, said earlier it would try to form its own government. The MPRP led Mongolia under communism until 1990.

The party complained that Elbegdorj, a former pro-democracy activist, failed to do enough to fight corruption and worsening poverty in this former Soviet satellite.

The party's announcement that it was leaving the coalition prompted a protest by MPRP opponents who temporarily occupied the party headquarters on Thursday, accusing its leaders of trying to seize power.

MPRP members staged their own demonstration Friday in support of the party, demanding that Elbegdorj resign.

Elbegdorj didn't say whether he would try to form a new government.

"I have done my best as prime minister of Mongolia. I trust that the legacy of my government will enrich the heritage of Mongolian governance," he said Friday night in comments broadcast on state television.

Parliament voted 39-0 to dissolve the government after 37 members of the 76 body left before the vote. Twenty members of Elbegdorj's Democratic Party walked out in protest, but five Democrats remained and voted for the dissolution. The legislature's lone Republican and one of its two independents also voted for the dissolution.

The MPRP has 38 seats in the parliament, just one short of the minimum 39 required to form a government.

The uneasy ruling coalition was formed in 2004 following disputed legislative elections in which the MPRP and its rivals accused each other of vote fraud and other abuses.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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