Several things

A few things to catch up on.

I went to Darkhan over the weekend to hang out with Sunaree and got back on Monday. It was nice and quite and without the pollution of UB. Very relaxing. In terms of transportation, you can get there by car, (mini) bus or train. When you get cars to other towns in Mongolia, you go to a certain place (in UB it’s Teeverin Tovcho or the Dragon Center) and people shout out the places they’re going and you pick whoever you want to go with. Then you wait til the car fills with other random travellers and off you go.

On the way up I drank some vodka with a businessman, a woman and there was a teenage girl in the front who didn’t drink. On the way back, I was next to an old lady who had a turtle in a box, presumably to give to a grandson or someone. She sang to herself most of the way and the other passengers, both young guys, generally ignored us.

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Today, my parents arrive on the train from Beijing, so I’ll be showing them around for the next few days til they leave on their trip. I’ll join them later, probably after Naadam Festival.

Goodies time! The following are a couple of new pencil drawings, which will be explained when you click on them and go to the flickr page. There’s also some old ones from the yak filming trip to Terelj, like me posing stupidly in front of Turtle Rock.

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This music video is for Quiza’s new single, which samples an old Russian communist propoganda song with kids singing. We actually met him at the studio while he was recording this track. I’m linking to the video because I saw it on TV the other night and thought it was pretty cool. A Mongolian rap video done in South Park style animation. Enjoy!

No show, just tell

As you’ve probably noticed, I usually like to have something to show when I post, but this time’s just tell.

This week started out in a similar vein to last week. Issy’s birthday on Monday night, which was good fun and a little drinky. Tuesday night was a dinner with AYADs and VSOs at the British Ambassador’s house, which was great (food, people, everything).

Last night I decided to stay at home, sort out the apartment (desperately needed to do some washing) and cook. After getting home and sorting out the washing, I headed out to buy things to cook. By then it was quite late, so some shops were shutting, so it was a pretty decent mission around town. When I got back with the supplies, ravenous and looking forward to cooking, it was after 9pm, the sun was almost gone and my entire block was in a blackout. Only electric stoves here, so no chance of cooking. I’d also forgotten to buy toilet paper.

I had a nice chat with Sunaree on the phone for a while, hoping for the power to come back. After eating some bread and cold baked beans, going overboard with the pepper in the dark and getting some up my nose, I ran out for toilet paper. Because the neighbourhood was out, I went a little further and by the time I got back, lo and behold, the power was back too.

Full after my earlier eating attempt and tired from running around,  (by now it was after 11pm) I gave up on cooking, watched most of a crap movie and went to bed. The end.

New Stuff!

This week has been pretty crazy, but surprisingly I’ve actually got some art done, which I present to you now:

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The first one took a while. Been a long time since I’ve done so much cross-hatching. The second one’s for the Chinese poetry essays project, possibly my favourite so far. The third was actually for work, which you can see in context here.

Last night (Fri) was the only night I ate at home all week. Monday was the photography/embassy thing, Tuesday was dinner with an Australian mining family who invited all the AYADs over, Wednesday I was randomly invited to dinner at a friend’s house on my way home from work and Thursday I went from work to meet Carl, Gana and his friend Bayaraa, for Gana’s going away (he left for Korea for 6 months yesterday).

Tuesday and Thursday I was stupid enough to drink coffee after 8pm and got about 4 hours sleep each night. Last night I was just a zombie at home doing the steam robot drawing while not really watching a movie.

It was a very busy work week, which was really good, but turned pear-shaped right at the end, when I couldn’t access the site, thus couldn’t post any of the work I’d spent the day doing, which is why I’m here now, having just done that.

Don’t know what my plans are now, but I’ll probably just vegetate for the rest of the weekend. Sounds like a plan to me.

Who wants my job?

Seriously. My position will be re-advertised from tomorrow, because of the low number of applicants. If you’re 18-30 years old, have the relevant skills/experience/qualifications and feel like spending a year in Mongolia, apply asap. The jobs will be advertised on the AYAD (Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development) website, here:

My position is basically web-design/maintennance/design/whatever. The project is an English language TV and internet project, on Mongolian National TV. It’s been going since December and basically there’s a Mongolian and a native English speaker who co-host the show. Each week we line up an interesting young Mongolian who speaks decent English and interview them. We try to get some language teaching and fun in there too. We also try to deal with some more important issues for young Mongolians. So far we’ve had people like Quiza (a rapper), Degi (a violinist), Orgil (an actor), Onon (WWF species officer), a debating team, a scholarship student, an achaeologist, etc.

Anyway, there will be another AYAD with a journalism background who will basically run the TV and be the co-host. My job is to look after the website and all other design/tech related things. Each week, we put lessons/teaching materials online, which coincide with what’s happening in the show. The project can be pretty flexible. There could be some DVD production, online and print teaching materials production and we’re even looking to expand into radio. It can be what you want it to be.
Anyone interested can email me for more details, or leave a comment at the bottom of this page. The website, to see what we’re doing at the moment, is at

For the Round 2, assignments will be advertized online from Friday June 15 to Friday June 29.

I finish in October and that intake should arrive in September or October.

*Edit to add: There is no way you can overestimate the time it will take to complete the AYAD application. It’s big. Start early.

Another 24 hour bug later…

It feels like I’m sick every second week here. Probably because I am. This was a weird one. My nose started gushing on Sunday and I felt really tired. Monday, I needed to work at home for a while. Encoding DVDs takes a long time and you can’t do much else while that’s happening, so I read for a while and passed out on the couch for several hours. Apparently the bug was still with me.

By the time all DVD stuff was done and I left for work, feeling more rested, it was after 4pm and there was the opening of an exhibition to go to at 6:30. On the way to work, after trying unsuccessfully to grab a snack, I came across something happening outside the National History Museum. It turned out to be the opening of the Roaring Hooves Festival, which I hadn’t realised was free. I knew about it because Dave, Bek and Andrew are participating in the festival with a 3 piece act of double bass, cello, didgeridoo and some khoomei singing. I found those guys and others I knew, who convinced me to stick around and watch the performance. There were some great groups playing in amazing costumes, plus a bit of jazz trombone from Roswell Rudd and the Mongolian Buryat Band. A lovely afternoon out in the sun.

After that, we headed to the pub, where I finally got some food, then to the exhibition. It was an Australian photographic exhibition by Allan Fox (OAM). The Australian Embassy crew from Beijing were there, with the Ambassador announcing the appointment of an Australian consul here in Mongolia. The photos were great and it was good to see Australia again, even though I hadn’t been to most of the places. The wine and food were also good, then Jane, Alison and myself ended up having dinner with Mr Fox. 78 years old and full of stories from years in the public service working in conservation, nature and wildlife.

This did mean of course, that after a small lunch, I ate three times in about as many hours.

beardmoving.jpgA facial hair experiment from a few weeks ago. It is no more.

A long and rambling update (too much caffeine perhaps?)

Strange and interesting week this week. It’s been good for the most part.

For once I was organised with work and got plenty done early in the week, knowing that the end of the week would be busy getting episodes of the show copied onto my computer to make more dvds. That all worked very well, but Friday turned out problematic because of some bastard problems while encoding that I’m still yet to fix.

Monday was pretty much a write-off because I was recovering from a huge hike (and rest of the weekend; not drink-related, but physically exhausting). Carl, Gana and I met up around noon on Sunday and got a car about half an hour east of town, then headed over one smallish mountain, down, then back up Tseteegum the highest peak around UB. Incredible view and a nice, tough climb, especially coming from the direction we did, which was rock hopping most of the way up. On the way back, we headed down to Zuunmod/Manzushir and met Gana’s mates on the way, where they had been hanging out, then cooked fish for us.

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The drive back was fantastic too, because Bayaraa (Gana’s friend) had some great tunes. As soon as we started moving, classic ’50s rock pumped out and we sang along raucously. The rest of the music was great too; a bit of Satchmo, ‘Girl from Ipanema’, a really nice Russian song and more.

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The rest of the week was pretty hectic. Not all that much time in the office, mostly out meeting people, working with them and collecting bits and pieces I needed.

Been a while since an update, so I forget when some of this happened, but one day, Dave and myself went to meet Carl, Quiza (one of Mongolia’s greatest rappers) and BX(a great young r&b singer) for a bit of Street Karaoke recording. Carl’s works for amnesty and has been organising a free concert (right outside my house basically) with some of Mongolia’s biggest acts, to promote human rights. We’re helping to promote it through the tv show and website, while Carl’s been setting up meetings for us to record lines of some of the performers singing ‘Power to the People’. Quiza and BX were doing a radio interview, which got delayed, so we hung out with Quiza and waited for BX to show. When he did, it was hilarious. He met us, got the situation explained, then launched straight into his lines, goofing around for the camera.
Got another small illustration done, which I’ll scan and put up soon. Keeping the hands and mind busy while working on the art skills and techniques, in preparation for some artistic work I’d like to do when I get back. No solid plans for the future, but I think I’d go insane without a creative outlet.

Interesting week ahead. A few engagements early in the week and work should keep me busy, fixing the problem from Friday and some more intersting stuff.