Hey everyone.... sooo its been a long time, i apologies ive been very slacking with the blogging, but i have an excuse! Mongolia is too much fun.
So yes work! its going great, i spend my time in a couple of different classrooms now, working with some of the youngers kids as well (babies!!! super freaking adorable!!!). I do mostly arts and crafts, making playdough, paper mache, colouring, drawing dragon ball Z lol. Ive also begun running a cooking class every week, so the kids and I have fun baking cookies and cakes and yummy stuff like that, its pretty crazy actually but the school got funding to build a kitchen class room (its a very small and un-equiped kitchen, i have to buy cupcake trays!) but the government doesnt give them money to buy stuff for the kids to cook so its been unused! Untill now :) I've found allot of things are like that in mongolia (I hear you have to pay police to come to your house.... not sure if thats a bribe or just the cost of things eh? but anyway).
So mmm interesting things that have happend at school in the last month....
I've been pee'd on, slobered on, drooled on, spit up on.... so basically im prepared to have children lol. The kids have nap time in the middle of the day, this is my new favourite thing cause it means i have a nap time too, im going to try and get this instigated at work when i come back, definitely improves productivity!
Oh the tradition in mongolia is they dont cut a boys hair untill he is like 3 or something, and they will also shave a girls head when she's... 3 or 4 or something so at times it can be really hard to figure out whether a child is a boy or a girl. So yeah ill be playing around with a little 'boy' and then 'oh you need to go to the toilet' (you need to help the kids go.... bit icky at first but you get used to it)..... and then'oh your a little girl.... thats embarrassing'.
OK! so what have i been up to in mongolia?!? Its Spring so the weather is warming up, its positive degrees now (single digits) during the day so hanging around outsides a little bit more often. I've participated in the international dodgeball tournament of Ulan Bataar (just a dodgeball compition), i figured id dodged enough cars so i could dodge a ball, we did ok actually 4th... out of 6 teams :P
I've gone skiing!!! i was terrible and almost killed myself (took a wrong turn at the top of the mountain... twice and ended up on the black diamond run when it was my first time on skiis... ever, had to throw myself to the ground cause i didnt know how to stop when i saw the drop, stacked it hard, did some flips, lost my skis, walked down the mountain like a boss!!!). But skiiing is definitely fun, will have to go to NZ or Japan and do it again.
Went to the countryside, carried an eagle (super boss), rode mongolian horses (they're tiny, really grumpy and when they run fast they smash your man parts). The countryside is really beautiful though, definitely one of the reasons i wanted to come here, ive seen it snow covered, right now its red/yellow/brown cause the snows have melted, hopefully i get to see it green before i go, country side looks amazing.
Went on an outreach to a detention centre for homeless kids, its really heart wrenching stuff to see some of the younger kids there, there was a 2 yr old girl and apparently she was just living on the streets! Child protection isnt exactly great here. Played some games with them, had an improntue dance off (im the guy who dances apparently), played bball (haha my awfull ball skills came in handy).
Made a whole bunch of friends over here, people are just really friendly (drunk mongolian guys not so much.... they tend to want to punch you in the back of the head). Overall a very exciting and eventful month, cant beleive time has gone by so fast.
If anyone wants to they can add me on facebook, actually starting to use it now that im over here. hope everyone back home is doing well, having fun, living life! Cause thats what its all about :D
(Super long post cause its been a pretty action packed day)
Spent my first day at the Kindergarten today and it was a great experience, the kids are super cute and so full of life. Many of them cant walk due to their disabilities but man Im the one whos gonna get tired out chasing them around. The language barrier is an issue but i reckon ill learn more mongolian from them then they're gonna learn english from me, they have these full on conversations with me cause i dont think they really understand the concept that i cant understand them, i just listen intently, smile and then tickle them, not sure if thats the correct response but they laugh so its all good. Brought over a couple of tubs of play dough, the kids love it, i dont think they've ever played with it before so we had a great time making a mess. Theres this one little girl whose name is Boschka (thats not actuallty the spelling but thats how it sounds) which means rabbit and well she is a character, she cant walk but she scampers around and climbs over everything, i love the fact she doesnt let her disability hold her back. When she talks she always says "you have to listen to me" and puts on a very serious face i cant help but laugh, im not gonna play favourites but shes adorable. The kids call me "ackha bichen" which means big brother cookie(biscuit)! Cause i told them my nickname is cookies lol. I thought maybe the kids would be afraid of me but that isnt the case so im bringing out the camera tomorrow! Turns out i will be reponsible for my own lesson plans and i need to make my own schedule and stuff like that, allot more reponsibility than i expected (I thought it was more of a Richard do this, and i'd do it kind of deal) but im ready to take on the challenge P.S any ideas would be great. Im sure that i'll have allot of stories to share with everyone.
The projects abroad office organised a social event this evening so the volunteers can get to know one another(as everyones working at different places and living in different parts of Ulaan Bataar), we've got a brit, a swiss (not a swede, she wanted to highlight that distinction), a german, an american and not 1 but 4 fenchies. We went to a korean restuarant ( love it! what are the chances right?) one thing led to another and bam! we're in a koraoke room with some mongolian guys (mongolians are huge fans of karaoke theres like a karaoke place every 500 metres) one of the volunteers knew. They dont have a huge selection of english songs but they got the classics (Backstreet boys!!!), one of the mongolian guys is also fluent in korean so he busted out k-pop! (side note, i am told that most educated mongolians know at least two foriegn languages, one of the guys knew english, french, korean and japanese! i dont think he was fluent in all of them but enough to make conversation, i feel bad i cant even string together a sentence in mongolian). After karaoke (which only cost about $9!) i was planning to call it a night but i got dragged to a night club (ok maybe not dragged, lightly prodded maybe) couple of vodka shots later (vodka is the drink of choice in mongolia, it's cheap and it's good and your not a man unless you drink it im told) im hitting the dance floor, by the queer looks i was getting i dont think they've seen moves like mine before (fist was pumping to the max) hell.... even back in auz my dancing is strange lol. Got up and danced on the stage, fell off the stange.... danced some more. All in all it was a great day, playing with the kids, experiencing the mongolian night life and to cap it off, cab ride home was like $1 awesome.
Today is international womens day which is a semi-public holiday, some places close (the school is not open today as the kids are home with their families), some places dont. I think its like combined valentines day/mothers day. So here are some things ive learnt about UB (ulan bataar), there are no street signs so if you try and find an address your in trouble, everyone seems to just know where things are. if you want to get around your have to remember land marks and have a good sense of direction. There are buses but i dont know the routes so i walk everywhere atm, so far ive spent at least 4-5 hrs everyday just walking around taking in the city. Taxis are cheap and everywhere though they dont actually have "taxis" here any car could be a taxi, you just stick out your hand, jump in whatever car pulls over and hope its legit. UB is a city of contrasts, the younger generation has embrassed western culture (though it looks like fashion is influences by korea), so theres allot of skinny jeans and gangsta hair cuts (most guys look like Ranald) and you've got the older generation weaing traditional dels (robes) and fur. You've got construction everywhere, they dont have any true highrises or skyscapers yet but i reckon in a few years time they will, but you also have the traditional wicker and fur huts (gers). You've got high end stores(they're not common though) and open air markets where people trade out of tents or from a table.
Oh it is a tradition in mongolia that is you accidentally step on someones foot it is polite to gab their hand, i told my project supervisor that it must be easy for mongolian guys to meet girls cause if they see a pretty girl they just have to step on their foot and then bam! your holding hands. She says im very strange and that i probly shouldnt go running after pretty mongolian girls abnd stepping on their feet.
Flying over with China air with a stop over in Bejieng, everyone thinks im chinese, all i can do is nod and say "sher sher" and hope they dont expect conversation. If youre reading this Wu, thanks for the RMD i didnt plan for the 6 hour stop-over in Bejieng, was able to grab some food, also Chinese people are pretty tall to my suprise, why are all you guys at CFS short lol?
When i first steped out of the airport my first thought was wow.... i havnt brought warm enough clothese at all (and its a reasonably warm -4 degrees day im told). But flying looking out over the snow covered landscape i couldnt help but be excited!
My host family are very friendly and gracious hosts though we dont communicate too well as they only know a little english and i know zero mongolian, my host mum is always offering me food so it already feels like home! Went to lay down for a nap and ended up sleeping for 12 hours (20+ hours travel time, read two books and 0 sleep)!
Its snowing!!! Fist time ive seen snow, ever!
Spending the day with my project supervisor Zulaa who is super friendly and nice (not just saying because she's gonna read this), as i go through orientation and a little guide through down town Ulann Baatar. The roads are hectic, its a like thailand except they all drive cars instead of mopeds, there are pedestrian street crossings but drivers seem to just ignore them, wish i had spent more time playing frogger in preparation. Tomorrow I'll be heading to my placement and i cant wait for the challeges that lay ahead.
I think I'll wait a week before i start going crazy with my camera, i dont want to scare people. Stay tuned for photos!
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