Up at 5am, bad!!!

I though i had escaped the jet lag but yesterday i woke at 6am and today it was 5am, im hoping tomorrow wont be 4am as i do like my bed, so im sitting in the lounge in the dark so as not to wake the lovely lady who works the guest house and i thought i could catch up on the blog. Its great having wifi, quite a luxury i wasnt expecting, but i forget that when im up the UK is asleep and vice-versa, im 7 hours ahead physically but my body i think is still crossing Russia somewhere, or so it appears this morning.

So last time i wrote i was off to the temple, my 1st ever temple experience and it was so great, i was in awe of the size of the buddha in the temple and i didnt expect to see so many litttle temples as well. Gandantegchenling is the name of the monastery and one of the few remaining from the Communist era when 900 temples were destroyed, this one however still functioned as a Buddhist monastery during those years as well as housing Russian officials, but today it is busy and glowing, there were quite a few people worshipping and many a Buddhist walking around the ground as well as chanting, its a place where you really do feel at ease and i can see me going there often for some tranquility and quiet time.

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We also met a local there, who at 1st site we presumed was going to ask us money but it goes to show you can’t make presumptions, he just wanted to show us his coin collection, which is much more exciting when you come from a country where there are no coins, he also had a good knowledge of English football, there was a photo card in his pocket of the England team, back when Beckham had long hair and he could name the whole team, he also had a great love for Mr Bean, im not sure why he is so popular worldwide, maybe as there is no dialogue and silliness translates in any language.

So that was Tuesday, i think im loosing track of the days as it is now Friday and i have gone back to completing this entry. So every morning we have been getting picked up at 8am, without fail as the bus driver gets a little crazy if we are late, which we never are, it is an old Korean mini-bus and it picks up everyone going to the language school, this we have discovered after a week as we stop on route and pick up a Japanese guy, a whole bunch of Korean volunteers and a Philipino nun, you can imagine the conversations on the journey as we all try and communicate with eachother, we are the newest at learning Mongolian but the others know a bit more than us, its entertaining every morning and afternoon, oh and of course there are more students than there are seats on the bus, that is just a given.

Today we finished our classes for the week and next week we are at the VSO office training all week. I can now read the street signs written in cyrilllic which i am proud of and would never have imagined on Monday and especially not 6months ago, it helps alot, i just need to know what the words mean now when i read them. I think in general i am getting used to being here, my body has settled in too, the altitude gives me a bloody nose and the dry air creates some crazy boogers like ive never known before, its a constant battle trying to keep them under control. Soryy for the graphic details but its a day long battle. I can also find my way around too, we have wandered around the city now in our free afternoons and i generally know where i am, its not a big city but the streets are wide and so there is alot of space and it seems big but you can get from A to B quite easily, you see a combination of old and “new” buildings, more old communist blocks than old Mongolian style buildings but the political history is everywhere.

You also see this in the people, the modern adults and grand kids with the nomadic grand parents, we saw this family below in the main square Sukhbaatar where the Mongolian government is, its probably the fanciest area of the city, where you also find the Louis Vuitton and Armani shops and the biggest Chinggis Khan statue i have seen so far, he reminds me in this photo of Queen Victoria as she was supposedly as wide as she was tall.

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About rdamm

I am about to embark upon a V.S.O. placement for one year in UB, Mongolia. I shall be working as a textile designer at Mongol Nekhmel, a textile company that produces cashmere, yak and camel hair clothing and homeware. I shall be sharing the skills i have gained in the last 10 years as a designer, creating connections and helping to open-up the products to the European and Japanese markets, therefore hopefully assisting to bring herding communities out of poverty. The views expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of V.S.O. www.vso.org.uk www.vsointernational.org
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