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Where To Sit in a Russian Van

December 11, 2003 - Where To Sit in a Russian Van, by Anya Eber

One learns quickly that in a van traveling through the Gobi Desert there is hardly anything to do. Looking at scenery is certainly one form of entertainment, but considering nothing really changes out here itís not a very good one. There arenít any roads, so if you try reading you are most likely to fall ill from a headache which could very likely give you an abundant source of complaints to occupy your time. But I doubt itís a very satisfactory way to rid yourself of boredom. I have decided to solve my boredom for a while by writing a knowledgeable and informational paper (for other travelers who wish to buy the service of a Russian van for touring the Gobi) on which seat to sit in during the ten day expedition. I must warn you, however, that this specific thesis is only good if you employ the services of this specific van which is highly unlikely.

First of all it would probably be a good idea if I outlined the seating arrangement of the van. There are two seats in the front of the van: one used by the driver and one for a passenger.. The passenger seat is quite hard, has a nice view of the scenery, plenty of leg room and is always in use by some greedy person or another. Then there are two seats directly behind the driver and passenger seat. These both have a sharp railing back and moldy carpet seat covers. One is off limits to passengers and only used to carry boxes of canned food. The other seat, however, should be avoided like the deadly plague. If you are unfortunate enough to be burdened with this seat you will be very ill from the backwards views of scenery and continual stab from the railing on every bump. The middle has two seats. These, however, are a tricky pair to deal with. One is hard and actually quite comfortable but the other is worn and has a pair of loose springs inconveniently placed at the center. If you believe that the solution to this pair of seats is to sit in the good one Iím afraid you are quite mistaken. For with a greedy partner you might find yourself with half a seat squished against the window, while your neighbor has managed to steal both good halves of the tricky seat pair.

If you have come into the van after these nasty seats have been filled you will be confronted with a choice between three seats. They reside in the back, right in front of a mountain of luggage. Each of them is hard, has no leg room and once all three are filled is not a good place for someone claustrophobic. But though up to this point they are the same, you will soon find thatís where their similarities end. The one farthest in is right next to a window which makes things quite enjoyable, -- but halfway through the drive you will find that dust has crept in and is suffocating you. Unfortunately when you try to open your window you will find it locked and so for the whole drive dirt will stick to your hair, clothes, and tongue. That once scenic window will now haunt you for the rest of the drive. In the middle seat you are safe from dust but being stuck closest to the luggage you will forever be sent on quests in search of: books, Kleenexes, pens, hair ties, and walkmans. By the end you will have developed a strong dislike for your fellow passengers and their possessions.

The last seat is quite the opposite of the dusty one. In the beginning things will go quite nicely, but once the dusty seat passenger discovers his windowís inconvenience he will call for yours to be opened. As you havenít created any grudges yet you will comply. The Gobiís weather is freezing and with the wind blasting in your face you will most likely come down with a severe case of frost bite. Donít, however, assume that when you try to sensibly explain this to the dust seater you will get any compromise. It is most likely that for your reply you will get a red eyed stare, and number of choking coughs, and possibly some swear words.

With these seats now set before you it is your turn to decide where to sit. But before you despair at the dismal options let me remind you that there are worse places to sit. For one, you could be stuck on the back of a Mongolian camel in the hard wooden herding saddle for the expedition. So with this thought in mind one can be much more optimistic when it comes to this van. For things could always be worse.

Last Updated: December 11, 2003

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