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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.

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