Survived my first week in Ulaanbaatar! So far I have:
- Gone out for dinner (twice). Witnessed a steak served with strawberries. Not even kidding.
- Eaten traditional Mongolian food (and enjoyed it – much to my surprise. Worst vegetarian ever and loving it.)
- Gone bowling with the other volunteers (my first time!)
- Gone to a Mongolian nightclub…yeah, I think I’ll stick to clubbing in London for now.
- Visited a monastery – now THAT was much cooler.
- Been shopping in the city center. Found this amazing little clothes store that looked like it had dropped straight out of Camden. Cue MASSIVE SQUEE and impulsive purchasing of hotpants :p
- Had the floor of my room flooded with water from two floors above.
- Read 2 great novels (The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt and Virtual Light by William Gibson)
- Done some drawing, and some running. 🙂
- And of course, taught a bunch of utterly adorable Mongolian kids the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colours and basic English words. Trying to get them to say “th” was hilarious. (me: “say ‘thirteen'” boy: *sticks tongue out, makes face of fierce concentration* “th-th-FTEER-TEEN!”) They are definitely my favourite thing about being here right now.
So quite eventful! And now, just as I’m getting over the epic jetlag and my stomach bug has progressed from “violent” to merely “painful”, I’ve been floored by a stinking cold. Time for tea and rest.
I can’t say I have any love for UB as a place yet. As far as cities go, this ranks somewhere down there alongside Beijing. The Mongolians themselves though, that’s a different matter. You meet them randomly, get talking, exchange numbers, and the next thing you know they’re taking you out on a tour of their city or inviting you round for dinner! Really friendly bunch, crazy hospitality, and equally as fascinated about my culture as I am of theirs. It’s a nice kind of relationship to have.
Plans for the coming weeks: visit more monasteries, go to the Black Market, get out into the countryside, go to one of their “cultural shows” (traditional singing and dancing I think) and visit a couple of museums (particularly the “Intellectual Museum”, which is a museum of puzzle games – sounds really interesting). Gotta teach my kids an English song they can sing for a concert as well. Coming up short of ideas. I don’t think Headhunter would go down well. Suggestions welcome…