On the Road to Khalkin-Gol

-Part One- by Henry Sakaida (continued)

Khalkin Gol War Museum in town also doubles as a hotel.

Peace Monument outside the Khalkin Gol Military Museum, with dedications in the Russian, Japanese, and Mongolian languages.

We were not the only foreigners in town. A Japanese recovery team from the Ministry of Health and Welfare was visiting. They make two trips a year to locate and recover the remains of Japanese war dead. We introduced ourselves and they were polite, but did not volunteer any information. Justin explained that he had once worked with their ministry when he discovered a World War II Zero fighter wreck in the jungles of New Guinea and found human remains. They seemed disinterested and suspicious of us.

Halgol has two hotels. One is located in the town’s museum. The Khalkin Gol Hotel is not the sort of place one would take a wife or girlfriend. It can’t even compare to the Sleazy 8s or the budget motels dotting America. It has no running water and no bathrooms. Honest!

The hotel’s toilet is across the street in an open field next to wallowing pigs. It is an old wooden outhouse and it was padlocked! I told Chinzor about it and he said, “They gave me the key if you need to use it.” I asked him why it was locked, and he replied “Oh…probably to prevent vandalism!” Chinzorig is a Mongolian who speaks perfect English with a wicked sense of American humor. I never saw him nor anyone else use it.

The rooms were neat and utilitarian, and by Mongolian outback standards, an acceptable alternative to sleeping under the bridge or in the car. The owner explained to us that she was buying some of the old abandoned buildings to renovate, and build a future for her family. We admired her entrepreneurial spirit and despite the lack of creature comforts, promised to come back again.

Our room was simple and clean, but the lack of toilet and shower facilities left much to be desired.

To be continued part 2
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