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When I arrived to the border town of Zamiin Uud, Mongolia, I bought a cheap seat in a Russian Jeep with 8 other Mongolians to cross into China. The vehicle was cramped yet open aired with modified rug covered benches and two rusty roll bars. It’s the only way to cross the border at this desert post and our driver drove us to a gate where we got in a double-file line along with 30 or so other jeeps, Chinese vans and trucks. Beyond the gate was an open dusty expanse and a custom’s checkpoint far in the distance like a buoy in a beige ocean.

I knew it was going to be interesting by the collision dents in all the vans and jeeps. Our driver was a nervous wreck. He would crank the engine then kick it in gear jolting us forward about a foot, then cut the engine…

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