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  • Suhashini L

Day 161 - Navigational Crisis In The Desert: Timely Help From A Stranger When GPS & Technology Fails

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

Day 161 (11 June 2023) - Bayankhongor to Altai, Mongolia


DAY 161 (11 JUNE 2023) – Today, I left Bayankhongor for a 420 km ride to Altai. On the way, I stopped by at a ‘Ger’ stall to have a cup of tea.

I met a friendly Mongolian gentleman and we conversed well in English. This kind man offered to pay for my pack of coffee at a convenient shop nearby.

Throughout this journey, the beautiful green landscape changed to a semi-desert landscape as this part of Mongolia is much closer to the famous Gobi desert. I came across some horses, sheeps and wild camels roaming freely, which was quite an interesting sight!

The Mongolian Gobi is the largest and coldest desert in Asia, and the 5th largest desert in the world! It covers the southern part of Mongolia, and the northern and northwestern parts of China. It is also the habitat of the Bactrian Camel, Apparently, there are only 800 wild camels remaining in the harsh environments of the Mongolian Gobi.

As I was approaching Altai, suddenly my navigation system stopped working due to lost wi-fi coverage! Even my backup phone with a Mongolian SIM Card was not working, so I couldn’t open up an alternative navigation map!

I decided to ride the straight road ahead but at one point, I got stuck at an intersection and didn’t know which way to go! The signboards were in Mongolian language and without wi-fi signal, there was no online translator.

I was literally stuck in the middle of nowhere! I waited at the side of the road and after 22 minutes, a lorry came by. I stopped the vehicle to ask for directions. Despite the language barrier, he understood my predicament and guided me in the right direction. I finally arrived safely at my stay in Altai after a 5 hour journey.

Technology makes travel easier with navigation and other functionalities, but it’s not always reliable. Perhaps carrying a physical (paper-based) map like the good old days would be helpful in such situations!



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