Now that we have some semblance of a plan involving our car, we're able to enjoy ourselves a little. The team is holding a beard competition! After the elimination stages, only two members remain. The final round will be put to a group vote.
Will it be Freddie's dark crowning glory?
Or Alex's thick red bristles?
And… drumroll please…Alex wins for convoy's best beard!
Erika sooths Freddie's loss by informing him that if she were an employer, she'd hire him with a beard, but not Alex. Personally I think it was a tough call, and Tom's rugged Ernest-Hemingway-old-man-and-the-sea beard could have taken the prize as well.
Sadly, most of the guys are planning to go clean shaven soon. This is incomprehensible to us, as we think they suit them all so well. Then again, we've never known them beardless. Tom without a beard seems just weird, and Tyler has been been suffering from severe beard-envy ever since we met Alex. How can he even think about shaving that masterpiece?!
After the beard contest, we all head down to an Irish Pub that reminds us more of TGI Fridays than any tavern we've seen. There, we revel in massive quantities of delicious food and drink such as chicken strips, fish and chips, huge salads, and, for the first time in a year and a half… a spiced chai latte! It turns out Ulaan Baatar is a fantastic city for eating. Wooohoo!
As we're enjoying our food, getting to know D'Arcy and Erika a bit better, laughing and joking and having a grand old time, a Mongolian band comes on stage. They get all set up, then begin singing covers of classic songs like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Bad Moon Rising". These guys are good!
During the second song, we're kicking ourselves for not bringing the sound recorder, so Tyler sprints back to get it. Unfortunately, the set lasts a mere five songs, and they are through before he returns. Bummer! But, the music isn't over yet. Freddie is eying the drums, looking for some sticks.
With the help of a waitress and the go-ahead from a manager, he quietly walks up to the stage. While he's graced us with his guitar playing, he's always taken our compliments with a smile and a "Not too bad… for a drummer." His real instrument is a trap set.
To the chanting of "Freddie, Freddie, Freddie!", a different man appears and lights up the stage.
And holy crap, the team goes wild!
When the show-stopping solo is over, and the same old Freddie sheepishly gets up to join us.
Well done, mate!