27th of May 2008
Mongol Badarchin 1st mission. 39th country.
Ivory Coast. On the way to Man City.
The local microbus was driving through the dark jungle of West Africa on a paved road and stopped at a junction .
The armed rebels were sitting and had fires at the all corners of the junction.
A man in fatigues gets on the bus and shouts “Everybody get your money ready”.
When the Rebels were talking to the driver ,a local young man who was sitting next to me in the back of the bus told me in poor english “Ok, from here the rebel-held territories, if you go to the west you’ll reach the Liberian border, if you continue on this bus to the north you will reach the rebel-held Man city, he said with warning.
“Rebels?” I said.
He was probably worried at how this light skinned Asian would survive in the rebel-held territories.
If I leave the bus and stay here at the junction I will be with the local armed rebels alone surrounded by the wild jungle.
if I continue my road, I will reach Man city in the middle of the night where there’s no police military or law, where violence money and guns rule. I will face a lot of problems not only with rebels but drug addicts , alcoholics and thieves, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find a place to sleep.
I decided get off the bus and stay at this 3 road junction.
While the Rebels were dealing with the driver I got out the back door .
The red light of the transport that brought me here slowly disappeared into the dark.
With a bag that looks like it’s full of valuables I’m standing surrounded by rebels under the stars alone.
I feel how the armed rebels are looking at me and speaking something about the strange outsider.
“What do I do now?” I think.
A day before…..
26th of May 2008 .
The longest nomadic badarchin journey not only in Mongol Undesten history (800yrs) but Hun history (2200yrs) continued.
After 2 years of road to see the world and open the eyes I reached the 39th country and 23rd in Africa, Abidjan the capital of Ivory Coast.
The new capital of the Ivory Coast is located on the south shore of North West African continent.
When I see the capital I feel it’s cultural and material richness compared to the other cities of Africa.
Many of the other African countries are strongly influenced by it’s music.
Because of a civil war the country is divided into two, in the North the rebels who oppose the government have declared a war.
From the local bus station I decide to go to Yamoussoukro city even though it’s away from my road to Liberia because I wanted to see the Christian
cathedral that was built for 800 million dollars that was located in the middle of the Africa.
I heard of a huge construction in the middle of the Jungle, similar to the Vatican Basilica, is there.
For me its very important to document and take a picture of that building to show to my people.
I bargained and found the cheapest bus in the chaos of the terminal. Because I’ve traveled in many countries i know that my bags are often unsafe. I submerged my bag deep in the baggage compartment. other people put their bags on after mine which gave me a sense of security. Many people were surprised at the backpacker going north. I remember the same situation in Israel when I was going towards the north to the war with Lebanon.
I see the economic influence of China on the African continent, mining development and road construction. Africans think it’s better to deal with China than their previous colonial rulers. When I see them importing things they can make themselves I think of my own country’s latest situation.
This country was in civil war and signed peace treaty, but the wound is open.
I feel the situation is not good by the people stress and anger.
When I arrived at Yamoussoukro city and left the bus and saw the Dome of the cathedral rising above the African jungle.
Around bus station I see a poor town in disarray.
When I ask the locals how to get to the cathedral they stopped a taxi and spoke in French with the driver about the price and said “get in “. They thought I don’t understand French. When person who was helping me took money from the driver I knew that locals are overcharging me.
I said” I’m not taking the taxi” and got out of the cab.
I put my heavy bag on and walk towards the church on foot and surveyed the area.
In this part of Africa when locals call you they put their hand palm facing down and motion with the fingers as if calling a dog and whistle. For us Mongols that is offensive. Most of the time I ignore but when I do come they don’t say anything important.
I plan to reach the church and take a picture making documentation for my book “One Day On Earth” to share with Mongols. After will take the bus and continue the road. If not I will have to find a place to stay here for the night.
I left the center of town and walked towards the church. The Roman architecture looks very strange in the African jungle. I feel like it’s a Hollywood movie where I found a European city Civilization in the middle of the Jungle.
After walking a while I saw a United Nations peacekeeping missions military base. On the perimeter I see lookout towers with blue helmeted machine gun armed soldiers on every corner.
When I walked next to the barbed wire fence 2 soldiers with south Asian faces asked in poor english” How are you doing”.
I say “I am fine”
They ask “where are you from”
“Mongolia” I respond
“Really come inside the fence”
I say “can I”
they respond” no worries come in”
The gate opens and UN armed peacekeeper receives me.
Two uniformed officers that were sitting on the couch next to the building stood up greeted and introduce themselves.
“My name is Mohiuddin” said first, the second said “my name is lieutenant Colonel Moinuddin”. We are in charge of the Bangladesh peacekeeping Battalion in this province. “On this base are high ranking UN officers stationed here”
I’ve seen many UN peacekeeping bases in the countries I have passed but I’ve never been inside.
UN peacekeeping bases in war torn countries are fortified and very difficult to gain access to. Almost impossible.
Keep in mind to know where there’s a central United Nations office or find out the location of the Russian US or Chinese embassies on the map when you visit countries in war or local conflicts . Know your Direction by the sun or by The Stars to find these locations in case of danger.
Don’t forget that we are Noodlechin people (nomads).
Machine guns on Every Corner military equipment covered by camouflage and the stair of the soldiers without rest ready to fire at any moment.
Base in the middle of the Civil War.
“In 2007 we were in Mongolia on military training ” said the Lieutenant Colonel.
Now I understand why they were so warm with me.
While we were talking they called the other soldiers and ordered them to feed me and give me food for the road.
“I really liked Mongolia . Nature was beautiful. In all countries I’ve visited Mongolia was the nicest one, if I had a chance I would go again. We did military training at Tavan Bogd. Your guys were well prepared and trained, I have many pictures. They’re always running and together and in pairs. I didn’t understand why”.
while we were having a conversation they said
” it is time for us to pray ” and went to the prayer room.
My guess was right when I saw first the Bangladesh flag with the red sun and green background that it was an Islamic country . Most of the countries where Islam is the official religion the flags are green or have a crescent moon.
After the two officers left other officers came and had lots of questions when they found out I was a Mongol going around the world and this was my 39th country they were surprised.
The two high-ranking officers after praying Returned with gifts. United Nations peacekeeping shirt with the UN logo BANBAT (BANGLADESH BATTALION FOUR) They also brought bread biscuits and fruit.
“Eat this on the road “they said. On my Badarchin journey it’s very rare to have a good food.
At that time I didn’t know that the UN shirt would help me to survive in rebel held territory.
Lieutenant colonel said “can you have dinner with us?”
“I don’t know I came to see the Christian cathedral after i will continue the road or maybe we’ll find a place to put my tent around here.”
“Because this is the UN mission base it’s not allowed for outsiders to stay but you can put your tent outside next to the fence under the watch of our Soldiers” he said.
“Thank you” I replied
“You can watch TV in our meeting room or use internet if you need. Can you give a speech to our high ranking officers about the countries that you visited? I want to share something new with our guys.”
I said yeah “of course’
Because the main goal of the Badarchin journey is to share what I find. I asked them to prepare what I need for the speech.
In the room with the projector and internet I opened my www.amai.mn blog and shared interesting stories.
Because there were another two officers who served in Mongolia I showed Mongolian nature, Ulaanbaatar city and other interesting pictures.
In the meeting room foreign peacekeepers heard stories of my mission. At the end of the lecture I said
“life doesn’t stand on money or material, people have to have a pure soul and everything goes well.”
They could imagine how this lonely journey could be hard dangerous especially in war-torn countries like this.
other offices shared their dreams that they would like to go around the world but they didn’t have a chance yet.
While we having conversation the food was ready and they invited me to the seat of honor with respect.
For me who has been eating on the streets of Africa the south Asian food that was prepared in the clean kitchen was unforgettable.
I wish we Mongols will never lose the culture of hospitality to host the stranger and give him good impression of our nomad civilization.
I hope that all people who visit beautiful Mongolia will remember the hospitality and pass this experience to there future generations .
Observing the Bangladesh soldiers I see the highest respect they have for the upper ranks, immediately follow orders. The soldiers who are serving me food making me feel like an honored guest.
In the next country Liberia Mongolian peacekeepers are waiting for me. I wonder how they will host host me.
After the meal we continued our discussion about my journey. There were many topics we discussed Mongolian culture.
After hours pass it was late and I thought I need to have rest. I didn’t know that the high level officers discussed hosting me in their guest quarters. I was thinking about putting my tent outside on the perimeter when one soldiers led me to a nice guest room.
Even though the UN rules forbids allowing guests to stay within the perimeter human hospitality showed that it had no Limits.
Soldiers prepared food fruits and water on the table and showed me where the shower was and told me if I needed something to call them.
This is a UN military installation in the civil war area Cote d’Ivoire.
Translations will be continued…
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