I have been here for nearly 2 days so far and “touch wood” i havent had any jet lag so far, its thanks to having a night flight with Korean Air who were just wonderful. After having read some of the other blogs from my fellow trainees i feel very lucky that i had such a great flight, everything flowed wonderfully despite the morning of my flight when a bird flew into my mums kitchen window, broke its neck and lay in a pool of blood, not what you want to see before an 18hour flight to the far fung land of Mongolia. But it really was great, the food was interesting to say the least but i slept well and we arrived in Seoul for a 5hour stop over where we managed to get into a private lounge with Alienors membership and enjoyed free food and drink and wireless connection so i got to skype back home to let them know i had arrived well. I guess the feeling of excitement really kicked in when we started to queue for the flight to Ulaanbaatar and saw my 1st Mongolian Buddhist monks boarding the plane, that is when my giggles began which continue everytime i get excited/freaked out in one go.
When we landed in UB you couldnt keep me in my seat i just wanted to get off the plane and breath my first air, my bag thankfully arrived well, it always astounds me how the luggage arrives too. We were met by 2 of the VSO staff and also realised that there were another 3 VSO volunteers on the plane who had come from the Philipines. We all bundled, and i mean bundled into the van/bus with luggage coming out of our ears and trudged into the city. We arrived at a guest house where there were another 6 volunteers who had already arrived, as it was already late we went to bed and it really hadn’t kicked in that we were really here.
The following morning a volunteer who had been here a year already took us round the city, giving us tips of what to do and not do, and markets, places of interest and of course buying a Mongolian phone and sim card, i am now the proud owner of a Nokia brick that way it is less likely to be stolen. The traffic, as expected really is dangerous, there are no rules and anything goes, so crossing a road requires full attention as well as big balls of steel. The giant man-holes without covers are also an adventure, it is like an assault course, you could walk right into one easily. We then had lunch with a few others from the VSO office including the country Director who is definetely a character and full of knowledge and interesting quotes as well as a lifetime of experience working worldwide, i can tell we will learn alot from him. The afternoon was quite tricky, we had training back at the VSO office, health and security in UB, after a big lunch which of course was all meat we could not stay awake, a few of us nodded off, it was the meat-lag. I also managed to meet Erka who i will be working with on my placement, we have a meeting next week so he can explain more about my placement, its weird but he looked exactly how i imagined, as if id seen him before.
This morning we began our language classes, it wasnt as bad as i thought it would be, you need a really good nights sleep though as its hard work and after almost a decade of not having any lessons you have to re-train your brain to concentrate hard and memorise alot of new information, especially when the language you are learning is written in Cyrillic.
The teacher is very expressive as there is little difference between some letters and it envolves some obscure mouth shapes and re-training the throat to create some odd sounds. I imagine it will be fun to speak once i can.
Ok i think that is enough for today, a few of us are off to a monastery close by this afternoon as have all of our afternoons off this week. back in a few days, hopefully with better knowlege of the language.