The last few days
Trip Start Jul 25, 2006
20Trip End Dec 13, 2006
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This will be my last blog. I am in the process of packing up all my things (I came with the admirably small eight kilograms, I will be leaving will well over double that!) and on Thursday morning I will be heading south out of Ulaanbaatar the way I came, on the train. And then I'll be on my way to New Zealand via Hong Kong from there.
It's strange how quickly you can become attached to a place, I am actually really sad to leave my little, very old and run down russian apartment. It really feels like home now! And of course, I am so sad to be leaving all the friends I've made here. I had Tuuro's (my friend Tsoogii's son) birthday on the weekend. Man, he's so cute. This photo didn't come out so well, but you might be able to see him blowing out candles - even though there are none on the cake!
A few things I won't miss though (I think of these to make leaving easier):
1. The smog. It's just gross. I have to wash my hair and clothes every night because of it.
2. Walking home to my apartment in the dark (you can't see ANYTHING AT ALL until you get safely inside the actual apartment door - with numb, due to cold, and shaking hands, due to stories of murders and stranglings in stairwells being rife, it's never a pleasant experience)
3. People emptying their bowels where they shouldn't. A week or so ago, I came back from Saturday coffee to find someone had done this right outside my apartment door. You can even make out in the picture what the considerate person had used to clean themselves with. Some other kind soul put dirt over it a few hours later, but the mess had to be dodged for about a week. And often on the way to work in the morning I have seen chinese workers from the construction site next door dig a hole in the kids park outside in broad daylight and do their business. GROSS.
4. Mongolian men and their ceaseless habit of spitting/hoiking in public. I mean, do they really have more saliva than the rest of us? It gets worse in winter, because the footpath is speckled in green/yellow splodges.
5. Minus 25 degrees and colder. Any warmer is tolerable. Below minus 25, though my body is generally able to be kept warm under 5 solid layers, my face really hurts. Especially my nose. I now know why mongolians scornfully call foreigners "those with large noses" - having a small nose really is a great benefit when the temperatures plummet this low.
Okay, well, I trust you are all keeping well in the stressful build up to Christmas. Those in New Zealand, I will hopefully see you soon!
Bayashtai, and thanks for being interested in reading about my travels. I am reminded of a quote I once heard about travelling, something like "travel is intended to broaden the mind, but it often just lengthens the conversation" - I guess the beauty of a blog is that one is not actually coerced into hearing about the minute details of a person's trip, one enters the site willingly!
PS Entirely unrelated to anything I've written above, here is a photo of the new facade to the government building in Sukhbaatar Square. Everyone is up in arms about it because it costs a truck load of money and no mongolian sees any value whatsoever in it. It's pretty hideous actually. There are fake gold panals at the top of each pillar. Plenty of corruption going on too, so no one is very happy with the government at the moment, except those working there I'd say.