Weekend catch-up

This weekend was good, but would’ve been far better had I not been sick the whole bloody time. Friday night we went out and stayed the night at Bolor’s family’s summer cottage type thing, just half an hour north of town. A lovely wooden 2 storey place. It was all nice and snowy. Took many hours to heat the place, so we were in our big coats the whole time, but that was part of the fun. That, the drinking and the games. Did feel like crap and pass out early though. Ah well.

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Saturday night was a going away party for some friends, which was also good times. Talked to heaps of people, which may not have helped my throat because it was already crap and I had to keep repeating myself to be understood.

On Sunday, I finally made it out to do some shopping and am currently listening to some new Mongolian music I picked up on that expedition.

Today, I attended the launch of the Khan Bank Foundation, who gave us some money for the project. It was good event; met some interesting people working on interesting projects, watched Altan Urag play a couple of songs (a great band sponsored by Khan Bank) and ate some nice food. There were lots of cameras around, so I might appear in the background on the news. I was also approached by a lady from Mongol National to be interviewed for a show about foreigners living in Mongolia. I gave her my card and assume I’ll end up doing it, because I’m a pushover. Slightly disconcerting.

I have a couple of options for new places to live, which I’ll check out and decide on very soon. Looks like I’ll be living solo, so I’ll post some pics of the new pad when I have one and move in.

Big meeting tomorrow afternoon, which should hopefully have some good outcomes for the show. It’ll at least stimulate some different thinking and should help us make the teaching side of it more useful. Should be some interesting people to meet too, who could give us some welcome advice.

Something hilarious happened this afternoon that had me laughing for ages.

Just near our apartment, there’s this intersection that gets gridlocked nearly every afternoon, usually around 4ish, for several hours. I’m talking serious gridlock where nobody can move and it seems to happen for no good reason. You’ll hear ten people all getting on their horns at once and it’s like that on and off for a couple of hours. The cafe I frequent for their free wireless internet is just near that intersection and when I’m near the window there at the right time, I hear all the horns and chuckle.

So, after this launch, Dave and I got dropped off near home. We jumped out early because we could see the driver would get caught in this messy intersection, which was already ridiculous at 2pm. Dave’s heading back to Australia for 2 weeks for a wedding and he was supposed to be getting picked up at 3:15 at our place to go to the airport. 3:30 rolled around and we were getting a little worried, and a little confused by something I won’t bother explaining. Dave called our boss to see what was happening and she called the driver and got back to Dave. Apparently it had taken him an hour to get to our place from literally about 2 blocks away.

Dave plans to get some footage of that intersection one day so we can show others the hilarity and absurdity. It really needs to be done and photos would do it no justice, if only for the missing horn factor.

Alright, I’d better go and deal with food now, because it’s almost 9 and I haven’t even thought about dinner yet.

Tsagaan Sar, Wrestling and Things

Think I gave myself a bit of a cold running around outside too much yesterday. I was running late for almost everything I did yesterday, so I ran everywhere I had to be, which my body didn’t seem to be too happy about today. Ah well, should clear up soon, then I can enjoy the big weekend that’s planned ahead. There’ll be pics and posts about that too, no doubt.

Let’s see, I believe it was Saturday morning that we went out to a music studio to meet Mongolian rapper Quiza, to talk about having on our show. That was really cool, because he was actually recording a new single while we were there, so we got to watch him record some verses. Very cool track which samples a 1920’s Russian communist propoganda song. Quiza’s one of the only Mongolian rappers who raps about real life, politics and social issues. He’s a really interesting guy and if I can get some translations of his raps off Benj, I might post them here.

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From there we headed out to see some Mongolian wrestling. It was the 2nd biggest tournament of the year, behind the Nadaam Festival one. It took a while to understand what was happening, because they don’t have a conventional ring or mat where 2 wrestlers go one on one. I can’t remember the numbers or the rounds, but basically they throw heaps of them in at once, pair them up and wait for them all to finish. Winners go to the next round and it works it’s way down from there til there’s only 2 left. I don’t know their actual names, but the 2 in the final were dubbed Tower and Boob. Obviously Tower is just massively tall and powerful and Boob has humungous pecs. Tower won, but did himself a injury on the way. Very dramatic. It was a really interesting thing to watch, because there’s a lot of ceremony involved. The wrestlers have to do certain things when they enter the ring. The officials hold their hats while they compete and the hats have tails on them, with different stripes signify the number of competitions they’ve won. There’s also a ceremony to be done when they win, which involves doing a bit of an eagle dance, a little thing with the person they defeated, their hat’s replaced, then they do a lap around a sort of monument thing, then see monks who give them tea and goodies to throw into the crowd. When competing, the wrestlers can go anywhere in the arena, so they often run into each other, officials, monks, photographers or whoever’s in their way. The officials try to keep them in check and make sure they don’t do any damage. There’s also a lot of butt-slapping, which I think is a hurry-up, but haven’t got a proper explanation for. Funny though. Oh, and do I need to mention the costumes? They speak for themselves:

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Saturday night was a big party at our place for Cath, because she’s leaving us very soon. Huge party no less. Gargantuan. Mighty. Well, there were several vomiters, many people making out by the end of the night (2nd hand info because I’d already gone to bed, reasons for which follow), a broken door and a dog left behind. It was a great party and people had lots of fun, vodka and there was dancing all night. I ended up going to bed because I was angry about the dog thing (some people we didn’t know brought a stray dog to our party and left without it), then I was summoned to the bathroom to help get someone out who got locked in and they ended up smashing their way out. After another minor debacle, I just said “Fuck this, I’m going to bed” and walked off. Literally.

The next morning was the first day of Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian/Asian/Lunar New Year. Basically you go around and visit your closest family and friends, in order of age and importance. Everyone makes hundreds, if not a thousand buuz (Mongolian dumplings), which you have to eat many of at every house you visit. You also have to drink lots of vodka and depending on the household, airag, the fermented mare’s milk drink. There are a lot of really interesting customs and traditions involved, mostly to do with greeting elders and so on. I won’t go into any of these because I don’t know enough, but some involve, in no particular order, a tower of bread/cake, a big, cooked, fatty sheep’s back, snuff and knives. I went around with my friend Toko, who used to work at ESP, and visited his grandfather and other relatives. It was really interesting, but I did feel a bit ill by the end and couldn’t really face doing it again the next day, when I probably should’ve. I relaxed instead.

Videos Online and some Well Wishes

So, if anyone’s interested in seeing what the show’s like and their internet’s fast enough, check out the media section of the VoiceBox website here:


I’m even in one of them, explaining how to do Dave’s contortion trick while he stuggles with it. It’s kind of weird.


You’ll notice I’m using YouTube for it, because the hosting for the site is limited, so I don’t want to store videos on the site itself. They’re also very convenient to display right on the site, so that helps too.

Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian/Lunar New Year is this weekend and I don’t really know what I’m doing. It’s a big family thing where you go around and visit all the people most important to you and eat lots of buuz (steamed dumplings) and drink lots of vodka.
Tonight there are several options for parties, events and bars to go and things to see. I still don’t know what I’m doing, but no doubt it should be fun.

Tomorrow night, party at our place because Cath just got a job in Melbourne and will be leaving in a few short weeks. This also means that Dave and I will be moving out of the massive 6th floor apartment, rather than looking for someone to move in with us. Don’t know what I’ll do, but need to sort it out soon. Might live on my own if I can afford to.

And now, I want everyone reading this to head over to the forum and wish my mum a happy birthday for Fri 16th Feb. Click below:

Sledding pics

Those pictures I mentioned in the last post are now online. I finally managed to steal them off Dave’s camera, shrink them and upload them. So much fun. Such great pictures. Pity I can’t take credit for them.

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And more…

Sledding and Launch

This weekend was great. Firstly I got rather drunk at a gypsy themed party on Saturday night and danced like a fool a lot. Punch and jelly shots make for a fun night. I was an awful gypsy, because I didn’t really have the time, wardrobe or, to be totally honest, inclination to dress up appropriately. Usually I’d make more of an effort, but it’d been a long day.

We went dog sledding on Sunday, which was wicked fun. Noemi, a French girl we’re friends with, works for a tour company that runs dog sledding on frozen river and lakes in Mongolia during the winter. They’re the only people who do it and it’s an incredible experience. You stand on the sleds and control the speed yourself. I’m still amazed I managed not to have a proper stack. I almost lost it a few times, but managed to hold on. The closest call was when we were going over part of the river that had partially defrosted an inch or two on the top (it’s been unseasonably warm for the last week or so). I slipped off a little, but managed to get back on, but because my feet got a little wet and we were on really slippery ice with no snow cover, my feet didn’t stay on, so I was sliding along on the soles of my shoes, rather than on the sled. Jumped back on ok though, so all good. I got some pictures on flickr now, but my camera died early, so I’ll put some of Dave’s up soon. They’re pretty cool, because the dude that runs the company was leading us and he borrowed Dave’s camera to take action shots of us all.

In the meantime, here are some of my not so cool ones:

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Had a bit of a frustrating day sorting things out with this banner design for the official (belated) launch of the TV show yesterday. It’s all paid off now, because it got back from the printers this afternoon and it looks pretty cool. I’ve never had my work printed that big before; the freaking thing’s 1.2 x 1.8m. I’ll make sure I get a photo of myself in front of it once it’s up. The launch is tomorrow and it show be good fun. Got some press coming, some embassy staff from the US and British embassies, sponsors and potential sponsors and random friends. I’ll be sure to get some photos of that too.

It’s been very busy times recently, which is why I’ve been pretty quiet on the site and forum. Looks like it’ll continue that way for a while, which is good, because I like being busy.

Anyway, there’ll be more soon, when I get Dave’s pics from sledding and some from the launch.