Thursday, 19 August 2010

end of term report

Today is my last day of term in Ulaanbaatar. The school holidays have arrived and our cat called last night to say she was looking forward to seeing us. So what is my impression of Mongolia after my initial six weeks?
Before I left for Ulaanbaatar I had a fixed image of Mongolia. I imagined it to be a huge place with big mountains and limited urbanisation; people were attractive but unsophisticated and a little fearsome; it was freezing cold all year round; camels and horses ruled and the food was best left to rot.
I was in part correct. It is an enormous country, one of the biggest. It does have magnificent mountain ranges and deep soaring Steppes. However, in Ulaanbaatar it has a thriving and lively metropolis (about the same size as Glasgow or Bordeaux). The people are very attractive, especially the ladies though I am biased, but they are also exceedingly fashionable. Regardless of age, class or gender there is a certain panache and style about your average Mongolian that would greatly impress your average Parisian. Mongolians on the surface appear trepidous about foreigners, rightly so in many instances, but like in so many other less over-touristed destinations once a connection has been made it immediately feels strong.
It is cold, in winter. Summer is a hot and arid affair. In my six weeks I have experienced: +44C and -2C; scorching sunshine and awful storms. Horses certainly do rule, Harry is king, but the camel is an endangered being. I hope Alice and co manage to revitalise their species. As for the food, I would readily swap most of the dinners I have eaten in Europe or the Americas for the offerings given here. It is an eclectic example of eating ecstasy.
Before I came to Mongolia I was excited about the prospect. Now, as I prepare to leave her and head home for a while I am already feeling myself loking forward to being back in her vodka fuelled bosom. Between St Jean de Luz, Edinburgh and Ulaanbaatar I am truly spoiled. And so to Europe...
Mongolian of the day:- depart :: yavakh