Friday, 10 December 2010

end of term report

Today is my last day living full-time in Ulaanbaatar, the fabulous capital city of Mongolia; coldest capital city in the world; fastest developing capital city and a splendidly wonderful and completely barmy place. Following a heavy night of dancing and drinking I have to suffer the pains of first class travel once more as I brave a wee flight across Northern Korea for some time in Seoul before heading back to London, then Paris then sunny St Jean de Luz. It has been some six months; an adventure I feel honoured to have had the privilege to enjoy. Herewith 5 good things about Mongolia, 5 less good and 5 interesting.

The Good

  1. Mongolian music is wonderful, unique and omnipresent. It plays as important a role on Mongolian society as it does in Basque culture.
  2. Mongolian culture and history is unrivalled; its geographic position has largely sheltered its heritage from untoward outside advances and it remains as it has been for centuries.
  3. The Steppe is both wonderful and fearsome; it is one of the largest and most hostile places I have been able to enjoy and riding across it guarantees peace of mind.
  4. The Mongolian people have an amazing sense of self belief; there is little doubt their future is bright given this and the serene anger that lurks under the commercial skin thanks to Chinggis.
  5. I have made some incredible friends in Mongolia; it is a happy place and I hope that as it changes so much over the next few years that it remains so (go now if you want to experience it as it has been)

The Bad

  1. The harsh environment and weather are strking and waring to the outsider.
  2. As the country undergoes dramatic change so quickly there is a sense of potential double standards and corruption; Louis Vuitton is established while orphans struggle to survive.
  3. There is trepidation about outsiders, a little is healthy too much is dangerous; there is a scary right wing movement being established that needs to be quashed soon.
  4. As the country expands economically it needs to make provision for pollution and recycling.
  5. Mongolia needs to get over its perceived dislike of China; the economic upside for Mongolia is immense given its natural resources

...and the Interesting
  1. Mongolia has, in my view, the prettiest ladies in the world (even my wife agrees).
  2. The Mongolian word for beaver is minge; the Mongolian for lion is aslan.
  3. Airag is possibly the most unusual and horrid tasting drink on the planet.
  4. Mongolian horses are the hardest animals I have ever met; they could even beat badgers in a fight if it came to it.
  5. Mongolia has some of the most amusing and wonderful signs for what it was that made Chinggis Khaan so angry; I shall continue my search next year...

Mongolian of the day:- goodbye :: bayartai