On the Road to Khalkin-Gol

-Part One- by Henry Sakaida (continued)

Downslope to the town of Halgol on the Khalkin Gol, with the majestic winged monument in the background.

We arrived on the outskirts of our destination and were greeted by a large and majestic

The tallest war monument at Khalkin Gol, built with Soviet aid, is now sadly neglected and is in disrepair.

winged war monument dedicated to the Soviets and Mongolians of the Khalkin Gol conflict. It was sadly evident that no one has worked to maintain it. Like so many other monuments, it was in disrepair.

Wild marijuana plants grew everywhere. I uprooted one from a crack in the steps and placed it into my knapsack. “This plant has great medicinal and recreational properties!” I explained to our guide who had no idea what it was. “I’m a nurseryman and a slave dog lackey of Yankee capitalists and I see this as a potentially lucrative cash export product to the US!”

From the monument, we could see down below, the small town of Halgol on the Khalka River. It can aptly described as “comatose” rather than “sleepy.”

Typical of many damaged and destroyed buildings in Khalkin Gol.

By American standards, it is a slum. It reminded me of a scene from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they got off the train at an old decrepit station in Bolivia. “All of Bolivia can’t be like this!” exclaimed Butch. Halgol is typical of all the small towns and settlements in Mongolia – old,

On the Mongolian side of Buir Nuur (lake) where there were many dogfights between Soviet and Japanese fighter planes.

rundown, and neglected.

There were many abandoned and gutted buildings. When the Russians left overnight after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the locals looted and ransacked the public buildings. Doors, window sills, wiring, fixtures, and anything of value were stripped and carted away. Scrap metal made their way to China. People were milling about or just sitting and chatting with friends and neighbors. “What is the big industry here?” I asked Chinzor. “There is no industry here,” he replied. “People just stay here and survive.”

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