Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mongolia is Not Boring

We've gotten our whole new crop of newbie teachers in the last month, and I really couldn't care less.  I mentioned this a little more than a week ago.  This probably makes me a terrible person, but tons of them are married and I really haven't had much of a chance to talk to them.  And the fact is, I know that a fair number of them will be whining about Mongolia and/or our school in the next month, if they aren't already.

"Mongolia is boring."

"There's nothing to do in Ulaanbaatar."

Well, those of them who say it - like those who have said it in the past - are wrong.  I would like to call them lazy and stupid, but the fact is that even though it is NOT boring here, it can be a little harder to find out what's going on.  You don't speak Mongolian, so updates on tv and radio probably aren't going to help you get out more.  So today I am bringing your the guide to finding out what the hell there is to do in Ulaanbaatar.

Step 1:  Make friends with Mongolians.
This should be a huge, "WELL, DUH!" but there are plenty of expats (myself sort of included) who live in an expat bubble and don't really talk to Mongolians.  Which is sad, because the Mongolians actually hear about what's going on (them knowing the language and all), besides which they're really nice and funny.  Wild Ass and our driver, Enkhaa, have been a gold mine when it comes to getting out more. 

Step 2: Read the UB Post.
This is a little harder than I would like it to be.  I never seem to be able to find the paper when I want it, but it's worth the effort, because their events page has lots of good stuff, and it's in ENGLISH!

Step 3: Get Connected.
There's this thing called the interwebs and it KNOWS EVERYTHING.  For starters, you can watch Expats in Mongolia on Facebook.  It will require you to ignore a large number of misanthropists who can't let a single thread pass without commenting on how much they hate it here (in spite of having lived here for most of a decade and having married Mongolians), but you'll find - in between those hateful comments - discussion of what's going on.  InfoMongolia is in English and usually posts "Upcoming Weekend Events" every Friday evening, and sometimes even announces events further in advance.  Other groups to connect to - with the added benefit of getting to know other people if (unlike me) you're not 100% satisfied with your awesome group of friends - are IWAM and Internations.

Step 4: Pay attention to your surroundings.
Mongolia has the charmingly outdated tendency to post flyers about events on poles and walls, at bus stops and, well, pretty much everywhere.  Other events may have a huge banner hanging outside the venue or at the central post office.  Most of these banners are in Mongolian, but if you snap a picture with your phone and ask a Mongolian friend or coworker for a little help, that's not really a problem. 

Finally, be proactive.  If you heard of something happening in years past, keep an eye out for it.  Somebody knows about it somewhere; you just have to figure out who, and get the information from them.  By now you should have figured out that you're an adult (at least I hope you're an adult - I swear and rely on crude humor too much for this to be a child-friendly blog) and nobody is responsible for making you happy but yourself.  If you want to sit at home and be miserable, nobody's going to stop you.  If you want to spend every weekend getting hammered and picking fights with Mongolians (aforementioned misanthropists on Expats in Mongolia, I'm looking at you), go for it.  It just means there will be more elbow room for me and mine when we go to the circus, the ballet, lantern lightings, awesome musical performances, fashion shows, and the other events we've been enjoying over the last two years.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Becky you're great indeed! It's incredible that belly dancing mecenary decided to live in fascinating Mongolia. Best:)