Posts Tagged 'departure'

final post

My going-away present

My time in Mongolia has been phenomenal, and I am immensely lucky to have had this experience.   I came here with an expectation of arriving at the end of the world, and was pleasantly surprised to be wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot about this place that is alien and new, but I think there is also a lot that is familiar and comforting.

Anyway, Mongolians are so friendly and welcoming that the culture shock was almost non-existent.  The expat community here is also amazing, another pleasant surprise.  I think it helps that most people come here with a purpose, and that determination lends itself to some great personalities.   There are no beach bums in Mongolia. 🙂

I’m really going to miss this place a lot.  I suppose there is always the chance to return, but the mix of people will be different, and I’m sure, Mongolia will be totally different.  Even in then year I was here, UB changed immensely.  I can only imagine what it will look like in 5 years.

In the meantime, I wish everyone the best here!  Thanks for all the fabulous memories.

I’m traveling for the next few months, and all travel posts will be on my other blog: Paradigm Shifted. In addition, this blog will no longer be updated.  Also check out my other blog, Cereal and Milk.

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things I will miss about Mongolia

I’ve been thinking for the past few days about the things I will miss from Mongolia.  In no particular order:

  1. Beautiful sunny summer.  The weather in Mongolia is really quite fantastic.  In the summer time, it’s mostly sunny and warm, but never humid.  The skies are blue, the grass is green, and even though there is more dust than I would prefer, the scenery is amazing.  The city is a great place is to sit on a patio and drink a beer, and the countryside makes for some great outdoor activities.
  2. Cold, snowy winter.  Don’t get me wrong. It’s cold here.  But it’s also snowy and biting – a real winter.  Everyone dresses in multiple layers, but no one looks frumpy. And there’s something to be said for surviving a Mongolian winter.
  3. Speaking of, I’ll really miss the fashion here.  It’s bold, quirky, and totally Mongol.  The women look amazing. Of course, sometimes, it’s a bit overboard, and could be scaled back a bit, but the love affair with knee-high boots and bright colors will be missed.
  4. The expat community.  It’s a small community here, with everyone knowing everyone.  Because of that, I think it’s easy to make friends, easy to find things to do, and easy to fit in.  And, with some of the friendliest, most amazing people, it’s something I’ll really miss a lot here.
  5. Swine flu.  It was quite exciting this fall, when everything closed down and we couldn’t do anything for about 2 months.  No, really.
  6. Fresh dairy.  I love the dairy in Mongolia.  It tastes like grass.
  7. North Korean food.  Not that it is all that different from South Korean.  There’s just something about eating in a restaurant run by North Koreans that is maybe a little bizarre.  Also, the food is AMAZING.

bucket list

So I’m down to the wire, with 2 weeks to go.  Yesterday, someone asked me what I had left to do before I go, which I guess isn’t something you think about with only 2 weeks left, but better now than later.  So, in thinking about my 10 months here, I’ve got myself a bucket list of sorts.  Of course, I’m biased, writing this after spending this time here, but I do have the advantage of actually knowing what’s going on.  So, the list of things I hope to accomplish/experience/obtain in Mongolia:

  1. Go to the Gobi.  Done. 3 times.
  2. See Hovsgol. Done.
  3. Camp in the Orkhon Valley. Done.  One of my favorite experiences.
  4. See the Eagle Festival. Done.
  5. See the Ice Festival. Won’t happen, unfortunately.
  6. Go East and film gazelle migration. Went East, didn’t see any gazelle.
  7. Learn to make Mongolian food – specifically, tsuivan, buuz, and khuushur. Done! Even learned to make mantuu.
  8. Have copious amounts of vodka. Ha. Of course.
  9. Eat horse meat. Yes.  Quite good.
  10. Eat something gross. Horse intestines.  Not so good.
  11. Go to the spa and get a scrub. Done. Many times over. Need one more.
  12. Go dog sledding. This weekend!
  13. Get some amazing pictures. Oh, definitely done.
  14. See Amarbayasgalant temple. Sadly, no.
  15. See wild horses. Another sad no.
  16. Experience a Mongolian winter. Oh, yes.
  17. Buy felt goods. Shoes and jacket and some kitchen goods.  Just need to get more slippers.
  18. Buy calligraphy. Ordered.
  19. Get a tattoo. Not yet, but still thinking.
  20. Go karaoke. Sadly, not yet!
  21. Buy paintings. Not really, but will go see what is available this week.
  22. Buy carvings of animals. Camels.
  23. Buy Kazakh wall hangings. Two, one made before I was born.
  24. Get an in-depth look at agriculture and livelihoods. Really, the main reason I was here.  I know far more about agriculture in Mongolia than anyone really should.
  25. Ride a camel. Overdone.
  26. Drink airag. Yum.
  27. Go ice skating. Still a chance.
  28. Get a picture on Chinggis Khan’s lap. Nope.
  29. Learn Mongolian dance. Nope.
  30. See the Morin Huur Ensemble. Still waiting to find out when they next perform.
  31. See local cultural performances. Done.
  32. Go to Naadam. Done. Twice.
  33. Ride a boat. Done. Russian research vessel on Hovsgol.
  34. Go to the ger districts. Sort of.
  35. See Avatar. This week!

We’ll leave it at 35, for now.   Of the list above, the vast majority can be checked off.

3 weeks to go…

No luck with the Russian visa.  For one, they want 10 business days for processing.  For 2, they close from Jan 1 – Jan 11.  And for three, I don’t have 2 consecutive blank pages in my passport (thank you, US immigration, for the haphazard stamping all over the place).   The universe has decided that the spring of 2010 is not a good time for me to be in Russia…. so I’ll try again some other day.

In the meantime, I’ve booked my flights to/from India, Malaysia and S Korea.  It will be about 3 months of traveling, and it should cure the travel bug for a bit.  I’ll be coming back to UB on April 1 or so, and then heading back to the US for spring in the midwest.

Here in UB, the holiday season is in full swing.  There is a giant Christmas tree on Sukhbaatar Square, lending credence to the idea that Christmas (or at least the tree and gift-giving parts) is not just for Christians anymore. Snow is on the ground, also belying the age-old idea that it can be too cold to snow.

And cold it is.  Hovering around zero today, which an improvement from the negatives we had all last week (double negatives, at times).   While it’s surprisingly bearable, I won’t miss it when I’m yoga-ing on the beach in Kerala.

My work here is mostly wrapped up, and it was mostly a success.  There were some things I wanted to do that I didn’t a get a chance, but overall, I’ve gotten enough data to have a sense of a finished product… assuming I get around to writing.

more than a page

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

~ Saint Augustine

Before my eventual arrival in the US, I am planning on traveling a little.  Right now, the plan is to:

  • Depart UB and fly directly to W India to stay with family for a week or so, then,
  • Take the train to Kerala, then,
  • Wander my way down the coast to Trivandrum, then,
  • Stay at a beach resort with yoga studio attached for a couple of weeks, then,
  • Fly to Sabah, Malaysia, and climb Kinabalu, then,
  • Meet my cousin and family in Sarawak at Mulu Caves, then,
  • Fly to Seoul to hang out with a friend, then,
  • Make my way to Vladivostok to hop on the Trans-Siberian, then,
  • Fly from Moscow/St. Petersburg back to the US.

All very ambitious, so we will see how much of this truly ends up happening.  But for now, this is the plan, and I am hoping to fit it all in!

I’ll be wrapping up on this site soon, and future posts will be on my other site, Paradigm Shifted.

6 weeks to go

I’m nearing the end of my time here, and it’s starting to move a lot faster (though it went plenty fast enough!).   With the holiday season, life is quite busy, and even more so as I plan my next steps.

I’m still exploring the options of what to do next in the long-term, but for the short-term, I think a little travel is in order.  Not sure what exactly just yet, but so far I’m eyeing India, Malaysia, and then either Seoul or perhaps to Vladivostok to hop on the Trans-Siberian home.

In the meantime, there is a lot of wrap-up to be done here, which includes consolidating data and notes that will hopefully turn into a research paper soon.  Then of course, the holiday parties, of which there are many, and some basic holiday gift shopping.

Of course, packing and sorting should be included in there, as well as trip planning and flight/train purchases.  And the last minute rush to visit the tailor, the felt maker, and maybe even a brief dog sledding trip.  6 weeks isn’t much time to fit it all in!