Arrested in UB!

I came back to the capital for the week-end. On Saturday, I rented a bike for the day ($25). I biked in the South of the city, along the river, and rode up in a random valley starting with a path. The path was slowly over, but still going up, sometimes walking to push the bike in the rocky area. I went down in the next valley, which had nice building I took for a luxury hotel. The main entrance to the road was limited with fence. I explicitly let the buildings behind and went through the area deeper in the valley in the direction of the forest. But I suddenly met unusual security guys: some soldiers with their Kalashnikov! I had to give them my passport! I walked with them back to the path I took and explained them how I entered the zone. At this point, I thought they would let me go, but no, they brought me to their watch house, asked me many questions and checked the whole content of my bag, called the guest house I was staying, etc. As I can speak neither Mongol nor Russian, it was not so easy. I initially thought I could continue my biking day, but after 2 hours there, it became less obvious.  Hopefully, Sarah and my guest house could help me to understand what is going on. When they said I have to wait until Monday for a complete check the police office, I understood I was in a serious trouble. But my plane out of Mongolia was scheduled early on Monday! So they made a faster procedure, a car came into the place and brought me to an office in downtown.  I was actually under arrest! The office was not even the police but the intelligence services (like FBI)! The area I came into is a state protected and a high security area. The building I thought it was a hotel was like a presidential house! In the IS office, one of the officer could speak fluently English, and took over my case. He asked me further questions, what I am doing here, checking all my visas, asking me if I have special military training, what I did in Indonesia and Iran and if I can speak the Arab language. As a dumb tourist without even a military service (France has professional army now, no conscription anymore), I just stayed calm, and apology about my ignorance about the area. Sarah came and translated my statement I wrote in English. She also had to give her details. She also said she is somehow related to some high important person in the police hierarchy. The officer gave him his trust and finally lets us go after scanning my whole passport without any fine. It was about 6pm. In the meanwhile, I called the bike shop and they get the bike back from the protected area. I went back to this shop after this adventure, and got my deposit back. The bike shop is actually managed by a Belgium guy living in Mongolia for 8 years. His sons were also in vacation there. So we could just discuss in French.  Fortunately, the daily adventure was in the peaceful Mongolia. It would have been another story in Iran or China…

I spent my last day in Mongolia mostly at my guest house working on my pictures. Hanna came back from 2 days in another national park and stayed in the GH, Sarah and her friend Marekee joined us. Sarah made our hairs. And we went out together for dinner and clubbing. A nice farewell party!

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