Hello. More stories to come shortly, but for now, I’ve just uploaded a ton of photos to my flickr for your enjoyment. I’ll try to tool about with the site soon and see if I can get flickr feeding into this place in an easier way.
Damn it’s been a long time since I hit the net.
Been in Ulaanbaatar for a couple of days now and am getting the feeling I’ll never get used to the place. Yesterday we spent the day piling in and out of a van looking at apartments. We found a big 3 bedroom place in the center of town with a massive living room. The others will be in 2 2 bedroom apartments also quite central.
Had my first taste of airag (fermented mare’s milk) last night and it exceeded all possible expectations of foulness. I was actually quite optimistic before I tasted it, figuring it couldn’t be all that bad if so many people out in the countryside drink it, but it really was horrendous stuff. I never thought a drink could give you flashbacks until this stuff.
Aside from that it was a great night and I suppose I’d better get used to that stuff if I’m going to spend any time outside the city.
Ulaanbaatar is hard place to describe. From the outside many of the buildings look run down and grotty, but inside are quite alright. A lot of them are more colourfully painted than I’d anticipated. The city itself is more modern than I’d thought too. Friday night we visited a great bar in town. The outside was covered in aerosol art while the inside had different decor on nearly every surface; one wall military themed, one wall covered in denim, one wall painted in a South Park motif, and so on. Very cool place with very cheap booze. I’ll return for pictures later.
The booze is cheap everywhere. Spirits are only served in 50 or 100ml shots and cost bugger all. You can get a good bottle of vodka for $10 Australian; $4 for a drinkable bottle, and more varieties than you can poke a stick at.
We had snow on the first night/second day and got woken by a canine dawn chorus. The dogs roam the streets freely and tend to bark nice and early in the morning.
The other great thing about this place is the mountains that surround the city. You can see them from everywhere and they look spectacular now they’re covered in snow. One even has a portrait of Chinggis Khan made out of stones facing the city for the 800th anniversary, but it’s hard to make out now the snow’s there.
More to come shortly.
Oh, and photos from the last couple of weeks on my flickr. Enjoy!
*Pretend this was posted on Wednesday night, when I first drafted it, but was unable to post.
I am currently living it up in limbo in Beijing, waiting to ship out to Ulaanbaatar on Friday. We’re staying in a hotel on a uni campus by night and hitting all the tourist spots during the day while the China AYADs are in classes. There’s a bar on campus, which a few of us have been frequenting called the Bla Bla Bar, which seems much like any uni bar. In fact, I’m starting to think all universities are built off the same blue-print and filled with the same kind of people all over the world, with slight variations. There’s a universal university culture and plan.
Sunday we visited the Summer Palace; a beautiful, enormous old place built around a lake by a tyrant empress, overcrowded with tourists. I did see a girl doing model poses there instead of the usual tourist fare, including the sultry look-back, which was hilarious.
Monday we headed into town to sort out visas and do a little shopping; the former being surprisingly easier and less stressful than the latter, which is probably due to my ineptness for bargaining. I did, however, pick up a dodgy b-grade dvd called Octopus II, and plan to acquire more. In the evening we made it out to see a young acrobatic troupe, then wandered around town looking for food and booze. Speaking of booze, the beer here is good, cheap and comes in one size; huge.
Tuesday was Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City. I have never seen a line so long in my life as the one for seeing the body of Chairman Mao. The Forbidden City is unbelievable in scale. Unfortunately my camera decided to cark it, so I have no pictures from there or the Great Wall, which was the following day (today! At the time of writing).
The Great Wall was amazing. We decided to go on the hardcore bit on a mountain, rather than the flat bit. Hard work, but I think I lived up to my genes and would’ve done my grandfather proud. Rod Fowler, who died before I was born and I’m told I bear a great resemblance to (in character as well as physique), was a medic in PNG during the war and was renowned for his walking, setting a cracking pace through the jungles. The locals dubbed him Muruk, the Pidgin word for Cassowary in honour of his walking prowess.
I’ll hopefully get some pictures off some of the others of the Wall, Tiannamen and the Forbidden City. We did a small, half-arsed re-enactment of the Mongolians invading the Chinese on the Great Wall. “Damn you Mongorians! Stop breaking down our shitty wall!”
I’m exhausted, but well. A couple of days left and we ship out to Mongolia, so my next post will probably be from there. Wish me luck.
So here I am in Beijing in an internet cafe, about to run out of time. Just letting you all know that I made it and everything’s going swimmingly. Long day of dozing on planes and hanging around airports, but now I’m here and all is well. Amazing place. Pictures will be up soon (I hope) and I’m sure I’ll have more interesting things to say once I’ve slept and seen a bit more. Email me.
Yes indeed, I am leaving tonight. Had a great last day in Melbourne; great last week for that matter. Had a great time catching up with everyone and saying my goodbyes.
Melbourne put on quite a show for me today; lovely weather, great people and even my favourite busker (apart from the old dude with the goon-pipes); the Japanese bluesman.
If you’re lucky I’ll post something from Singapore airport. If not, there’ll be something from Beijing, hopefully with pictures. I’ll see what I can manage.
See you in a year!
So, the send off party was last night and I’d like to cordially thank everyone who turned up, particularly those who assisted me when I was in need; I may not remember, but I am very grateful. Hope everyone had a ball. I sure did while I was capacited.
The hangover wasn’t as horrendous as I’m sure was expected. I even made it out for a run/walk this arvo and took some pictures. Click thumbs for bigger (or to pass the time).
This is the first post on the new computer, which is a bit of fun.
The countdown continues…
So here’s my random stupidity for the week. I had this idea ages ago, but between having a job in hospitality and not wanting to frighten the ladies, I never had the chance to grow enough facial hair to try it. In retrospect I should’ve let it grow for at least another week or so before trying this stunt, but you live and learn. So now I present to you 1/2 beard 1/2 moustache man:
If only I was drunk I would’ve gone out in public like this. The pics didn’t turn out quite as well as I’d hoped, even with malicious enhancing.
In other news, I have a brand spanking new laptop I just bought for my trip/work. I like it very much.
I leave in just over a week, so updates will be sporadic. I have some drawings to scan, a cartoon I want to finish, and probably some pics on the way, so I’ll put what I can up when I have the time.