Posts Tagged 'transit'

travel diary: ovorkhangai

My second trip to the countryside followed on the heels of the first (back to back, actually).  This time, we headed southwest to the edge of the Gobi, to Ovorkhangai aimag. Ovorkhangai is known for being the home of Kharhorin, the old capital of Ghengis Khan.  We didn’t make it that far, staying instead in the aimag center, Arvaikheer.  The purpose of this visit was just to get out of town and relax a bit, and I traveled with an AYA volunteer.

We stayed with PCVs (the best network in Mongolia) who showed us how to make khushuur (we used tofu and cheese with the potatoes and veggies) and toured us around.  There isn’t much to see and do in Arvaikheer, so of course, we went shopping.  I managed to restrain myself and only picked up a single pair of cute shiny red wedges (velcro with bling. whoot).  Shopping in an aimag center is interesting – some of it is thrift shopping, and I could have sworn one of my old jean jackets donated to charity was on sale.  And some of it is imports from China, with prices that seem unreasonable for the countryside.

And of course, I ate about 500 piroshki, fried bread stuffed with meat and rice.

We tried to go to karaoke, but ended up sitting at the bar for hours just chatting (the karaoke room was also occupied for most of the night).  It was fascinating to listen to the PCVs talk about their experiences in Mongolia, ranging from some amazing times to some ridiculously crazy times.

And in the midst of it all, we managed to not get killed by the crazy drunk guy in the market who went out of his way to pick a fight, and didn’t let the stares from the folks from the hudoo bother us too much.

Arvaikheer sits on the edge of the Gobi, so it was really dusty.  Our second day was also incredibly windy, which made our hike up the nearby hilltop a little uncomfortable.   But even in the midst of the dry and dust, there are pockets of green, a sign that spring is definitely on its way.

Our return to UB was uncertain, as there was a travel advisory for dust storms.  When they blow in with other storms (ice, rain, etc), the busses tend not to run.  Ours did, however, and at a good pace, getting us back to the city in slightly less time than our trip out.

Now I’m back in UB and a little more thankful for the modern conveniences I have here. Like a shower.  Nothing like not bathing for a few days to lower some standards….

Pictures can be found here!

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last day on oahu

Tomorrow morning I head to Mongolia.  It’s been a fun reprieve from daily life this past week.  Here’s to new adventures!

park city

The last time I was in Utah, we went south into the desert. This time, it’s a little too wet still, but more importantly, there are piles of snow in the mountains. So that means snowboarding.

Sadly, I didn’t bring my board, or boots, or snowpants, or even gloves. Plus, there is lingering work and other minor tasks I need to take care of. So my brother has gone riding, and I’m left exploring Park City. It’s an interesting town, as far as ski resorts go. Unlike Whistler, which is entirely created around the fact that Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are good skiing, Park City and surrounding areas started as mining towns. You can still get that feel walking through town and around.

Main street is narrow and the buildings are old as well.

Of course, Park City is a major ski resort town now. Aside from Park City resort itself, there are two others within walking distance of my brother’s house. An hour’s drive away gets you to three more. In 2002, the Winter Olympic Games were held here, which Park City is quite proud of.

All that aside, it’s been cold and sunny here, which actually translates into kind of warm and sunny, when you are at 7K feet elevation.   Makes for some excellent pictures and a nice walk around town.

5 pm

And my last day in Toledo.  I took my tax papers to the accountant this morning, who informed me that I will be getting a refund.  Now I know the economy is sinking and fast, as I cannot remember the last time I got a refund.  I am thinking about these “payroll deductions” and how to stimulate the economy.   Basic economic sense tells me that the more we spend, the more we employ, and the cycle continues.  But when the banks are sitting tight on dollars and bleeding all the same, I think (?) the real problem is liquidity.  Nevertheless, I will be stimulating the Mongolian economy, where I will say, the people probably need it more.

I tried so hard not to overpack, and I think I am fairly happy with what I have.  Probably still too much, but not overwhelmingly so.  A few clothes left tumbling in the dryer, and I should be done.   My last meal in the Eastern half of the US will consist of mutter paneer, dal makhani (or some semblence thereof), and tomorrow morning, some upma.  Then onto to Utah, where I will probably sit on my brother’s couch and work while they are all enjoying the freshies at Snowbird.

Utah was recently ranked #1 in a poll on happiness within our 50 states.  Not sure where DC falls – I know West Virginia is last.  Utah is weird and wonderful, and I think I could live there one day, after I develop some tolerance for hippies and religious fundamentalists (the latter will happen before the sooner).   This was Utah the last time I was there.

I think there is more snow now.

off we go!

It’s 9 am, and I’m pouring coffee into my mug and taking the keys off the ring.   I got up at 4:30 am (thank you Marc!) and headed to National to pick up the rental. After an eventful early dark morning at National Car Rental (I just wanted the largest steel box on wheels they had, is that so hard?), I managed to get my hands on a sleek black Highlander.  It’s large enough for everything with no obstructed view, so we packed it tight (thank you Ed!) and I’m ready to go.   I’ve even got fresh bread for breakfast (thank you LeighAnne!).   I’ve also made lunch to take with (tortellini in creamy zhug sauce).

I’m driving through Maryland and PA before hitting Ohio, so it’s all turnpike and highways.  I will stop at the SV Temple in Pittsburgh for brief prayers of luck and prosperity.  Then to Toledo, to unload and get some sleep.

Thanks to all who came out on Saturday to wish me goodbye.  I will miss you all greatly.

The room is clean and empty.  Trash is out.  Cat ears have been scratched. Time to go.

the plan

So the current plan is to depart DC on March 9th.  I will then drive to Toledo and sort through my stuff (also, I need to do my taxes. Why don’t we have a flat tax again?) to decide what to take.  Then, supposedly, I will fly out of Detroit, potentially through Salt Lake City and Honolulu, stopping for a few days to visit friends and family and get a little warmth.   Then on through Seoul (for a brief layover) and into Ulaan Baatar.

The annoying thing is that my funding comes from State, so I’m subject to the dreaded Fly America Act.  Luckily, I seem to have picked cities that are all Delta hubs, so I think I’m gold on Delta all the way to Seoul, where I’ll board a Korea Air flight (which is probably codeshare with Delta anyway).  Of course, this depends on cost.

I’m still not sure where I’ll be living, but these are minor details to be worked out.  Perhaps I can spend a few nights at the spa.

In the meantime, I’m getting rid of stuff, so anyone in DC need anything, do let me know!  Also, I’m trying to see all the last few sights that I never got around to in 15 years here, so partners-in-crime welcome!