It was the third time I went there, but the first time I was asked to pay an entrance fee. I suppose they only ask foreign-looking people to pay. Buddhists who come to practice their religion surely enter for free.
There were quite a few people, some tourists but mainly Mongolians, but in spite of the many visitors the atmosphere was just as peaceful and relaxing as the last time I was there.
We ventured into a building a little to the side, and there we were welcomed by monks who seemed quite delighted to be the subject of attention from a group of ladies.
Ulaanbaatar is dusty, it's not a green city, it really can't be with an average annual temperature below zero (it's the coldest capital in the world) and the very dry climate. However, brave efforts are being made to create some green (small) spaces that perhaps remain dusty but at least they are green!
We had brought five balloons. The first four refused to take off, and when we came to the fifth one we had run out of matches.
Here the full moon just comes out from behind some light clouds.
I happened to hear that they are performing in UB at present, but it wasn't easy to find out when & where. Finally Zulaa called someone who knew, so yesterday I could listen to them in the Mongolians Pub! Great!!
Pictures from last night:
Medicine Volunteer of Projects Abroad Mongolia, Shawn Steckle Daniel donated amount of money to “Street Children’s Care Center”, the Metropolitan Police Department which is indescribably marvellous. We are really thankful for his charity. His donation money will be spent on maintenance and repair of the Orphanage and Detention Centre for street and homeless children. This contribution will bring bright changes in the living condition of the Mongolian street and homeless children. Thank him for your support for the Mongolian children’s future. We wish such a person in the world increase more and more in the future.
I had very nice lunch in an Italian-inspired restaurant downtown with Sezin, who is the UN resident coordinator in Mongolia. On my way to the restaurant the bus (which I had waited for for ages) broke down after having made very strange sounds. The driver very courageously got out and tried to fix it, but I decided not to wait for the uncertain outcome of his mechanical intervention and hurried through the university quarters on foot. It was graduation day for many students, and friends and relatives were waiting with flowers and gifts.
It seems I'm doing many things for the first time here in UB. On Friday evening I went to karaoke for the first time in my life. This was not my initiative, but an event organised by Projects Abroad. I wasn't the only beginner present, but I was the only beginner who sang (well, tried to sing ...) a song. I chose The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel, a song that I love. Here it is, luckily for you not sung by me but by them: Simon & Garfunkel: The Boxer
Sayo is an exceptionally good amateur, she sings difficult Whitney Houston songs like Whitney herself. Not only does she sing in tune, she sings with emotion. It's great to listen to her.
Zoloo and Sayo.
Our apartment block entrance door looks like a door to a safe, in fact all apartment block doors that I have seen here are very safe-looking. They are also always open. But when I came home the other day the door was closed! I tried to pull it open - it didn't move. I looked at my two keys, but there was no key hole to put any of them in (I hadn't noticed the absence of a key hole before). I felt slightly desperate. There aren't that many apartments here and this was in the middle of the morning, a time when not so many people leave or come back. I thought that Odnoo was out, but I rang her and she was at home! Saved! She then told me that there actually is a code lock (the little knobs that you can perhaps see are the keys to press). If the code lock works is of course another matter.
Please, artists, forgive me, but what I remember most from this night out is how to order a beer that hasn't been chilled in Mongolian. This has nothing to do with the quality of your performance, dear artists, not at all! It's just that I'm so used to making linguistic observations that I can't stop myself.
Open mike with Mongolian backdrop.
Today, as the forecast had promised, winter was back (well, not real Mongolian winter, but more like Brussels winter), with snow and wind. This is one of the mud seas that had formed during the night and early morning and which I somehow had to cross on my way to work, wearing black jeans and black suede boots. They are no longer black.
In the background you can see some quite typical garages.
Today was my last working day with the small children in the orphanage, as I will start teaching English to the older kids next week. I hope to be able to pop in and hug these five sweeties from time to time, though, as the teaching will take place just next door.
Here we are in the dining area, which doubles as playing area when it's not meal time, right after the morning snack. The morning snack drink is the reason why you can see at least one soaked t-shirt in the picture.
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