Archive for the ‘Mongolia’ Category

New Mongolia page

I’ve added a new page with a map and practical stuff about Mongolia (the tab at the top of the page). I’ll keep adding to it when I have the time…


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The third and last part of my little film…

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The second part of my little film…

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The first part of my little film…

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Friday, 26th June.

I don’t like repeatedly seeing the same faces at an airport. Seeing them often enough, while you’re waiting for your delayed flight, to start giving them a small “ehyup” every time they walk past. It makes me feel as if I were in a disaster film. I’m getting to know all the main characters who will later be going hysterical, screaming, sacrificing themselves heroically or turning nasty and fighting a nun for the last life jacket…

It’s 11:03am. My plane was due to take off in two minutes. I’m sat watching an electronic notice board in Genghis Khan International Airport. When I got here two hours ago they told me that the flight had been put back ten hours to 9pm. I took the news relatively calmly as I had almost expected some sort of f#@k up on arrival. I’d got to the airport in plenty of time and my driver had managed to avoid every one of the heavy goods vehicles on the way by at least a couple of inches…

At the hostel I said goodbye to the remaining few people I’d gotten to know. I’d forgotten or just not bothered to learn the names of all but one of the people who worked there. I said goodbye to Ukhta, shook his three-fingered hand and promised to send him a cassette of decent music. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to “Bob” (one of the family that runs the place), as he was too busy trying to kick the shit out of one of their drivers. As we pulled away and out of the square they were still being held apart.

B@#%@cks, I’m going to miss my connecting flight in Beijing.

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Goodbye Mongolia…

Goodbye MongoliaWednesday, 24th June

“Different Ways to Drink Your Own Piss”.

That was Khuu’s translation of the title of the book she chose in the bookshop she’d shown me. I was looking for souvenirs. It’s quite a common remedy in the Mongolian household for almost anything apparently. Children start off with their mother’s urine then move onto their one.

Khuu had a strange condition when she was little. When she ate meat she’d come out in a strange rash and have difficulty walking. She spent three months on a hospital bed without improvement. She was subsequently sent to her aunt’s house/ger. Her aunt was a qualified nurse and looked after her as best she could. When it was agreed that the medicine that Khuu was being given was having no effect,  she was given a glass or two of her aunt’s urine every day. After less than three weeks, she was cured and the strange illness has never returned.

My last visit was to the Victims of Political Persecution Memorial Museum, housed in the converted house of prime minister Genden. Genden was executed by the communist after refusing to take part in the communist purges of the 1930s. Every room recounts the stories (mostly in Mongolian) of the countless intelectuals, lamas and other “counter-revolutionaries” that were sent to Siberian camps or murdered by the communist regime. The last room contains several skulls from a mass grave, each with its own bullet hole.

It was quite sad saying goodbye to Khuu, Marieke and Tine. They wouldn’t have been an obvious choice for travelling companions, but I think in the end I was really lucky.

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Back in Ulaanbaatar

Choijin Lama TempleTuesday, 23rd June.

I’m glad I got a few days to wander round Ulaanbaatar again.

I saw the Zanabazar Art Museum yesterday and had a drink in the only place that wasn’t shut at 11pm. Also found the Choijin Lama temple. A beautiful place hidden amongst grey soviet blocks and the capital’s only skyscraper.

I saw a Khoomi concert there with twenty others, which I’ll probably never forget. I couldn’t bring myself to take photos or videos.

The inside of the Choijin Temple (or “Temple of Mercy”) is full of the usual grimacing, fornicating, laughing deities along with amazing (and huge) Tsaam masks. But what makes this place special are the walls covered with representations of hell and suffering. Metres and metres of people being dismembered, eaten, drowned, strangled, sodomised, etc,. You end up looking upwards to rest your eyes and are greeted with the sight of imitation human hides hanging like a bat colony from the ceiling.

I went out later with the Marike, Tine, Stefan (German guy), a cockney boy called Eric and a Japanese trainee chef with no english. We talked about religion, poverty, philosophy and where to get a beer after 11pm in Ulaanbaatar.

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