The road to Ulan Bator is long and torturous. We’re averaging only about 12 miles per hour. There’s not a single restaurant, just miles of the interminably brown and brittle Gobi Desert. Today we dip into our meager provisions. We make do with sandwiches made from crusty bread, pickles, overripe peppers, and tiny canned fish.

“The fish add just the right amount of flavor,” Andrew says optimistically. This is sustenance in its barest form, but at least one member of our dining party is thrilled: At one of our stops, a goatherd shoos his flock away and breaks bread with us. He smiles appreciatively after he chomps every greasy fish. Because there are no trash bins, the empty fish tin stinks up our battered, dusty car for the remainder of the day.

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