Thursday, August 30, 2012

Song & Dance and Dog & Pony

Well, four days of school down (only 178 to go) and two weeks into Mongolia, I'm still alive. I have not starved to death (in fact, I'm going to cook something REAL shortly after I write this, which will make the third time this week), and in fact, I was not even remotely tempted to eat the whole pizza I ordered last night (because it was nowhere near as good as New York Style Pizza's Brooklyn....mmmm.....) I know Mongolia will be a good place for me, especially if I make myself keep the right perspective. For example, it might take me an hour and a half to get downtown on the bus sometimes, but if I remind myself that it used to take me nearly that long on the subway to get to my belly dance lessons in Shanghers, or to make it to places in Seoul, it doesn't seem so bad. It's all about perspective, really.
A week ago the school took us newbies (and any Oldies who wanted to go) to the Tumen Ekh song and dance show. The vocal music didn't do all that much for me - I bought some on iTunes back when I got the job and overall it kinda gives me a headache - but the instrumental pieces were great. I especially loved the part where they made the horse-headed fiddle whinny like a horse.
They had dancers, too, but I thought the coolest part was the contortionist. Unbe-freakin-lievable. The theater was meant to resemble a ger-palace like our buddy Chinggis would have had. Not the most comfortable seating arrangement, but nice digs nonetheless.
The next day, after school, we abandoned Ulaanbaatar for the countryside (again, courtesy of the school). It took us three and a half hours, and we didn't go that far from UB, but Hustain National Park was worth it. Mongolia really does have spectacularly gorgeous countryside.
I got to sleep in my first ger that night, and it wasn't bad. Or it wouldn't have been if the fire hadn't gone out. In fact, it was nearly midnight when one of my ger-mates actually got someone to put a stovepipe on our stove and start our fire. Which was coal and didn't smell as nice as the wood fires that were burning in other gers, but it was so nice and warm, I didn't care. But let me tell you - when that fire went out, all three of us knew it. It got COLD. And it was bloody August.
The main reason people come to Hustain is to see the takhi, Mongolia's wild horses. This is the closest picture I got, out the window of the bus, but we actually found a herd of them and got out to take a look. We were supposed to leave the camp at 8 for this little excursion, but we got stuck waiting for people with families, and then our bus driver told us to get on the OTHER school bus. Well, good thing he did - turns out he was drunk as a skunk, and at 2 p.m. when we were meant to be heading back to UB he was incapable, so my bus had to hang around a couple more hours til the bus company could send out a sober driver. I had heard that alcoholism is a problem here - apparently the first day of the month you can't buy alcohol anywhere here (store, bar, or restaurant), but this was the first time I'd seen it with my own eyes. I felt kind of bad for the guy - I guess it would suck to have to stay sober while driving a bunch of drunken foreigners around, but then, I go around with drunken foreigners all the time and enjoy myself just fine. And I wouldn't risk my job for it. Anyways, that's all for now, people. Hope you are eating well wherever you are; have a burrito and think of me.

No comments:

Post a Comment