Friday, 21 January 2011

absolute silliness

Ok, scratch what I wrote yesterday about Mongolia. The cold here is unlike anything I've experienced before. I tried to go for a walk this morning and not for want of trying I was warned against doing so. Combined with the joyful pollution that reeks out of the many gers as they burn cardboard, plastic, tyres - whatever it takes to keep warm - there is a definite bite to your throat whenever you venture outdoors.

There is a hill next to my home here that is about twice the height of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh (roughly 500m) so nothing too big. I try and walk up it whenever I can as means of keeping fit. When I first arrived it was a struggle because we are a bit higher up than I am used to; but I managed. When summer arrived I found it tough in +40C; but I managed. In Autumn I struggled at 0C; but I managed. As I set off this morning two Mongolian friends implored me to stop. They assured me that if I tried to walk up the hill in this weather my corpse would be carried off the hill. I failed (but am still breathing).

It might be mostly sunny. It might be mostly still. It might not feel too bad if you are only walking from your home to the car and back. However, if you walk any distance or remain outside for more than a couple of minutes your skin starts to get bitten, your bogies freeze, it becomes tougher to close your eyes as the mucous covering your eyeballs begins to turn more viscous and there is a shortness to your breath that would worry even the more fanatically fit athlete. Still, I can't help but be excited by it. Where else could I revel in -40C? Where else could I walks across deep frozen rivers? Where else could I be so often be close to death? Mongolia continues to surprise when you least expect it.

Apologies if I go on about the weather but a) I am British and b) it is amazing.

Mongolian of the day:- I speak a little Mongolian :: tiym, bi Mongol hel zhaahan medne