Traveling overland for long hours in extremely remote areas can be a real pain especially for women. I normally drink a lot of water while on the road for hours. Maybe it’s my fear of being dehydrated, I don’t know maybe it’s just my subconscious mind telling me to drink a lot water most of the time. And obviously the result is the frequent trips to toilet.
My memorable overland travel experience was when we traveled to Gobi desert from Ulaanbaatar on a 4WD vehicle. Flying was the original plan but there were no flights available as Mongolia was flooded by tourists and travelers from all over the globe due to the Naadam festival. I thought it would be fun and exciting, and I would really enjoy my first experience traveling to the desert.
We left UB at around 8am with the hopes of getting to the camp before the sun sets. I was really excited as it was my first desert experience, yet worried because I didn’t have a slightest idea what it was like traveling to Gobi. After 4hours on the a bumpy and sometimes muddy road (that is if you can call it road), I have already downed about a liter of water and I started feeling like having my first trip to the toilet. It was when the reality started to sink in, we were in the middle of a beautiful Mongolian countryside and our driver informed us that it would take another few more hours to get to the nearest town. I was like, “I cannot hold it any longer.” It was after 30 minutes more when we made our first stop, we all got off the car to do a little stretching. The driver walked away, about a hundred feet and did his thing. There were only 3 of us there; me, X and the driver. I was starting to panic already, I thought I could hide behind the tree and I could instantly feel better in less than a minute. But there was not a single tree, only grass and some pea-like plants that were just approximately 1 foot above the ground. So I told X that I really had to pee and he said I better do it right there and then as I was left with no other favorable options. So I hid behind those one-foot tall plants and tried to forget all the embarrassments, but hey it was Mongolian countryside and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the first one who did it.
I really couldn’t resist drinking lots of water especially after having a handful of different kinds of nuts. When I started feeling uncomfortable again, I decided that I would hold it and wait since the town could be a few more kilometers away. I felt relieved when I spotted a few shoe box looking buildings and small houses, thought we could pull over and go to a proper toilet somewhere there. We stopped by a small house cum café and the driver had his lunch there. I was very disappointed to learn that there was no toilet in that house, I couldn’t seem to understand why. X and I tried to survey the surroundings but we didn’t find one. So, when we got back inside the car, I told the driver that I really had to go and pee, he said something like “ok, later”. We drove around the corner and I was feeling so hopeful but after a few more turns I noticed that we were already leaving the town. After a few more minutes, I could see hundreds of horses and goats on both sides of the road again. We pulled over and the driver said to me while pointing out a rock “ok, that’s the natural toilet.” I was like “oh no, not again.” But I don’t have any other options so I went ahead and murmured “at least it’s quite a big rock this time.”
After going to the natural toilet twice, I started getting used to it, so the third time felt a little easy and we were even joking about it already. X was like “okay choose your spot.”
The fourth one was kind of funny, it was when we were at the tent of a Mongolian family (for those who have not read my older post yet, we got lost in Gobi and had to spend the night with total strangers in the middle of nowhere) . I was sort of expecting a proper toilet that time but there was still none so I had to go to the natural one again. It was already around midnight and it was really dark outside. I was scared that there might be huge scorpions and other desert creatures around. And there were also about 6 camels just a few meters away from me. I thought what if they suddenly decided to walk around while I was sitting there. I really couldn’t imagine what I would be like sitting there peeing in the dark with all these filthy bactrian camels walking around and circling me. The photo below was taken the following morning, I was standing in the area where I had my fourth toilet but the camels were already gone.
I had another toilet moment again in Gobi desert early in the morning before leaving our host’s ger. In the photo below, I was standing near toilet number 5. I was really starving that morning as I didn’t eat properly the previous day due to the fear of releasing some toxins and cleansing my colons while on the road. In conclusion I’ve been to five toilets (just to pee) in Mongolian countryside and Gobi desert. Those were the largest toilets in the world 🙂