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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Over the Hills and Far Away

A lot of things happened during the last week. Culminating in a fantastic weekend in the Hustai National Park.
We will leave for an eight-day trip tomorrow and there just is not enough time to write everything down, however, I did upload the pictures:
http://www.im-spycher.ch/scrappy/Mongolia/week4/
You'll have to wait a bit for the next update, but I'm sure there'll be lots to tell :-)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Countryside and Goodbyes: Pictures

And here they are:
http://www.im-spycher.ch/scrappy/Mongolia/week3/

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Countryside and goodbyes

On Tuesday morning it was time to say goodbye to Dafni and Elli, who flew back to Greece. However, there wasn’t enough time to be sad, in the afternoon the second Hash was on the program. This time we went about 20 minutes outside of central Ulaanbaatar. And we already were in the middle of the countryside. There were nomads herding horses and cows towards home and we saw edelweiss blooming on the hills. The walk was very relaxing, at the top of a hill we found an Ovoo, the others told me that you have to walk round it three times in clockwise direction, after each round you throw a stone onto the Ovoo. After the walk I was officially christened as a Hasher, for which I had to down a sprite, which isn’t so easy with all the carbonic acid... Back in UB we met up with Thomas to celebrate his last night here.

Early on Wednesday morning Thomas left to return to Austria. Around lunchtime I started the quest to find a muesli mixture. With the help of Bayaraa, I found one on the market, it was imported from Germany. After buying fruits and yoghurt I was ready to make my first Bircher Muesli in UB. This I took to a potluck, which was hosted by people working in the American embassy. Most of them live in a newly built high-security area, which extremely resembles suburbia; there are well-kept lawns, lots of flowers, a big playground and very colorful houses.

On Thursday evening we met at Kachiu’s flat, which was huge, for dinner. I brought another Bircher Muesli along, a great success, and we made Spaghetti and Brownies, coming to think of it, we never ate the Brownies, because we forgot them in the oven. I wonder what happened to them... Afterwards it was time for Quiz Night. Sofia, who had just arrived from Greece and will go to Darkham on Saturday, joined our team and helped us a lot with the questions concerning Greek Mythology and Philosophers. In the end we came second, again, but the winners had an 8 point lead this time round.

On Friday I received my salary of 100 US$, I’m not yet sure whether this is for one or for two months... After running around halve of UB to get some Tugriks (I wanted to get them with my credit card, but ended up exchanging US$), we went to Tengis cinema to see The Cave of the Yellow Dog. A wonderful movie/documentary about nomadic life, it had fantastic landscape scenes and a moving storyline. For dinner we went to Dave’s Place, there even was a very good live band. Then we headed to Strings to celebrate Kachiu’s last night in town, or so we fought.

On Saturday afternoon we met Kachiu again. Because of a screw up at the airport her plane left 1.5 hours early and she couldn’t get on. So we tried to figure out, how she could leave UB during the rest of the day, because almost all flights were already fully booked with dozens of people on the waiting lists...

On Sunday morning Michaela, Evelyn, Uurii and her friends and I started our trip to Terelj National Park by Microbus. About half an hour outside of UB we had a flat tire, fortunately, there were many houses around and the driver managed to repair it within 45 minutes. And we were on our way again. Shortly before entering the National Park we stopped at an Ovoo. Now familiar with the custom, I immediately circled it three times. Close by there was a man with a yak, but I just took a couple of pictures.

In the National Park we stopped at a big rock formation, where we could climb up and enter a small cave. Ten minutes later we reached the famous Turtle Rock. At the end of this valley was a newly built monastery and we rented horses to get there. This was my first time riding a horse, fortunately they were quite tame. On the way back my horse wanted to get home fast and so I was constantly in the lead, and because it knew the way, I had almost nothing to do and could enjoy the fantastic experience. After lunch at the old Terelj tourist center, it was almost 5 o’clock now; we walked to the river and followed it for awhile.

Back in UB, Kachiu told us the fantastic news that she managed to get a seat on the plane leaving UB tonight at 1.20am. After a Chinese dinner, we accompanied here to the airport to make sure that she could leave this time round :-), and so we said our last goodbyes for this week.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Week 2: Pictures

Brand new pictures from my second week in Ulaanbaatar:
http://http://www.im-spycher.ch/scrappy/Mongolia/week2

Monday, August 15, 2005

Week 2

I've been pretty busy at work and am making good progress.
On Wednesday I returned to the Registration office and got my visa extended, unbelievably it only took me slightly over one hour!

Thomas, my roommate, came back from his fieldtrip on Tuesday, we get along really good, unfortunately he'll leave tomorrow. On Wednesday and Friday we went out clubbing to Strings, a music club with a live band. I liked it there, because they play all sorts of music, even some Rock.

At the end of the week people started leaving. First Hannah, early on Saturday morning to go to Bejing, then Katerina on Sunday and today Dafni and Elly.

So we spent a lot of time together to say goodbye and to reminiscence about the good times we had together.

On Thursday we entered Quiz Night at Dave’s Place, the pub we hang out at the most often, and we came in second place!

Yesterday we went to Karaoke. This is the first time I’ve tried it and it was great fun!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ulaanbaatar: Pictures of Week 1

The pictures of my first week in Ulaanbaatar can be found at:
http://http://www.im-spycher.ch/scrappy/Mongolia/week1/

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Transsiberian Railway: Pictures

Pictures from my trip from Irkutsk to Ulaanbaatar on board the famous transsiberian railway:
http://www.im-spycher.ch/scrappy/transsiberian_railway/

Monday, August 08, 2005

Siberia: Pictures

The first bunch of pictures found their way onto the web.

These are the pictures from my stay in Listvjanka and Irkutsk:
http://www.im-spycher.ch/scrappy/Siberia/

By the way, what do you think of my new banner?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mongolia

Tsangia and Baysa from my office picked me up at the train station and took me to the flat which I share with a student from Austria. Pretty soon I met the other students who were in Ulaanbaatar with the IAESTE program and we went out for dinner and drinks.

I’m working for Datacom, a company specializing in web-publishing and internet marketing. I’m participating in a project to create a web shop for a company selling mobile phones.

In my free time I go out with the other IAESTE students for drinks, parties, dinner, etc. Unfortunately, three of the guys I met on the first day already had to leave. But there are still 6 of us. The good news is, that more students are scheduled to arrive within the next month.

On the weekend I washed my clothes, ironed them (this is the first time I did it myself, and it worked! :-) ) and cleaned the place. Besides I went to explore Ulaanbaatar and visited several Museums (Museum of Fine Art, Museum of National History, Choijin Lama Temple Museum, Gandan Tegchlen Monastery).

The most annoying thing happened on Friday, I was going to the Ministry for Foreigners where I had to get registered and extend my Visa. Finding the place was easy, finding the correct office was not, all the signs were in Mongolian and the staff wasn’t exactly helpful. After waiting for an hour I was sent back, because I didn’t have the necessary documents to extend my Visa...


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Trans-Mongolian Railway

My train left Irkurtsk at 06.04am. To catch it I had to get up at 4.30am without getting much sleep, I was way too excited. I shared my compartment with 3 people from the Netherlands, they were on there way to Bejing, with a short stopover in Ulaanbaatar. The trip was great. After 2 hours we came to the shore of Lake Baikal, which we followed for almost 3 hours before turning towards Ulan Ude. The landscape was great. First a lot of trees, then the lake and towards Mongolia steppe. The most "annoying" part was the border crossing. We spent 6 hours at the Russian border (instead of 3.5 hours). At 1am we finally arrived at the Mongolian border. The first thing we received was the customs declaration form, which was in Mongolian script!!!, with the help of the conductor we figured out what to fill in. After a rigorous passport control we could finally get some sleep. Both the Russians and the Mongolians were very thorough in searching the train, they looked in every nook and cranny so that no one could pass the border undetected. After a surprisingly relaxed night I saw the first ger at 8.50am. Half an hour later we arrived in Ulaanbaatar, two hours behind schedule.

 
 
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