Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Mongolian Month

Today marks a full month (rather than just 4 weeks) that I've been in Mongolia. I'm still alive...although I came down with my first cold on Friday, which led me to go on a coke bender over the weekend (I was down to about one bottle a day til then). What's it like here? A little lonely, honestly - I make friends slowly (as you, my six loyal readers, know from experience), and I often feel kind of isolated. My classroom, while actually INSIDE the main building, is kind of in no-man's land, and most of the time when anyone comes to my room it's to take construction paper, rather than to see me. But I don't want to bitch - I generally like the people I work with and I REALLY like the students, I don't have to be to work til 8:15, I will have some disposable income (when we finally get paid in nine days), Mongolia is a gorgeous country, and hey - I finally made it to the Khan Uul ward, even if the meetinghouse locator was wrong on a second count (that of the time they meet).
This weekend our principal organized a city tour for us, and took us to Gandan Monastery, BD's Mongolian Barbecue (for lunch), and the National Museum. Gandan was our first stop. It was not as big as I was expecting; apparently it was bigger until communism came to town and waged a drug war against the opium of the people. It was a show monastery for foreign visitors for years, and after communism fell here it was reopened for real.
While Mongolians worshipped the "eternal blue sky" many, many moons ago (and I can understand why, because the skies have been ridiculously, eye-wateringly blue for most of the past week), these days they have more in common with Tibetan Buddhists. Check the prayer flags, yo. I'm sure this doesn't help their animosity towards China any.
Food has been an issue for me since I've been here. Well, issue might be too strong a word. I don't particularly like to cook (for myself, at any rate), but I ate WAY too many big fatty meals in Shanghai, so (as I've said, ad nauseum) this is GOOD for me. However, I was delighted with our lunch at BD's. I've never had Mongolian food back home (although I did a couple of times in Shanghers), but if this is what it's like (and I have it on good authority that it is) then I can't blame Americans for liking it. BD's is 20,900 tugrugs for all you can eat goodness, and maybe a block down Seoul Street past California's (which is also supposed to be good).
Finally, the National Museum of Mongolia (sorry, their camera fee was 10,000 tugs so this picture is all you get). It was a nice, well-curated museum, and my Dark Lord and Master would LOVE the section on Chinggis and his horde, but I confused the museum we went to with the Natural Natural History Museum, so I was a little disappointed that there were no dinosaurs. Hell, I didn't even realize until recently (thank you, Lonely Planet) that so many fossils had been found here, but I was looking forward to seeing them. I fully intend to go out to the Flaming Cliffs at some point in the next two years; til then, I will have to be happy with a trip to the Natural History Museum, and that will give me something to do another weekend (thank goodness we didn't make it to the Winter Palace, as we'd planned...there are only so many things to do in UB...)

3 comments:

  1. Hi Becky and welcome to Mongolia. I have just read your " A Mongolian Month". Just wondering how did u miss that GIGANTIC dinosaur in Natural History Museum? It is impossible not to see it.
    Would be glad to show you that dinosaur on your next trip to the Museum, if you want. my email is chingesk@yahoo.com

    bye.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Actually we went to the National Museum, not the Natural History Museum, so I don't think I missed it, but thanks for the offer to show me - I'll keep it in mind!

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  2. Sooorry. I misunderstood you then. the names of the museums were changed and so confusing these days. The NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM was called CENTRAL MUSEUM. The National Museum was called Museum of Revolution until late 90s. I like the old names.

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