Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Foundry.

During my home stay, Khass took me to the foundry in the ger district to the north of UB, that he, his father and his three brothers are starting up.
The ger district is divided into compounds called hasha. Khass’s family are creating a metal recycling facility in their hasha
All sorts of scrap iron products from car engines to old pipes are delivered to the site by old soviet trucks
The scrap is then melted in an electric furnace and cast into an ingot.
The ingots are then hot forged into what look like cannon balls. They are in fact used in drilling operations in the mining/oil industry. Entrepreneurs in action in Mongolia!!!!!

Home Stay.

As part of the in-country training, we have had the opportunity to spend 4 days and nights with a family.

My host family were a young couple, Shuree, Khass and their little 2 year old Beriga. They made me very welcome and I have to say I had the best of times with them

The family took me all over UB including a visit to The Megid Janraysig Temple. This was fascinating, having an inside view into what was going on and being able to walk around the inside of the temple whilst the service was in progress without feeling I was doing something wrong.

Buriga turned the pray wheels. We bought ‘holy’ water and incense to burn at home

On the Saturday evening a firework display lit the UB skyline. We had a grandstand view for the apartment window

And then it was time for supper. Nothing left. What a great 4 days. I cannot thank Khass, Shuree and little Buriga enough for making me feel so much at home. Thank you.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Street Scenes 1

This blog entry is the first in what I hope will be a series of general street scenes in the capital

Roadside mechanics are popular. From changing tyres and brake linings to suspension repair, not a problem.

I liked this photo of a trolley bus stop because the pedestrians seemed to be moving in sympathy with the trolley bus pick up arms. I know, sad reason!!!

An often repeated scene. Dad and kid. Statistically, women reach a higher level of education than men in Mongolia. As in the UK, both partners in a relationship are economically active (as the jargon says!!!!)

Young Famillies

This picture was taken as the family was walking away from The Megid Janraysig Temple. Ancient and modern………….Brilliant!!! Mongolia has a very young population. It is almost as if there has been a quantum leap from the 1960’s to 2006. Beatle’s music is popular, but I have not hear the music of the intervening years. Today, Robby Williams and Britany Spears are in vogue. Freddy Mercury has yet to make an impression here. I feel a mission coming on!!!!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mongolian Language Class of September 2006-09-22

Most of the class that graduated this day with Enkhee and Tsemaa.
Richly deserved for achievement.

Richly deserved for staying the course!

The tutors. They deserve medals themselves for their patience and never giving up on us.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Around Suhbaatar Square

UB is a 10 k long, thin city build along Peace Avenue which runs parallel to the “river”. To the south of the “river” there is also a residential and industrial. Suhbaatar Square is towards the east of the city and is the centre for government buildings, theatres and museums. The whole avenue seems to be one long shopping opportunity.
The Square is where people seem to gravitate to on first arriving in UB,….. and not only tourists.

And people meet to pass the time.

Newly married couples come here to have their photographs taken in front of the statue of their old friend Ghenkis

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Heads up for the Lotus Centre!

This little boy was found eighteen months ago left in a bus shelter. This was not an act of neglect but an act of desperation by someone. Ewan Mcgregor's and Charley Boorman's account of their encounter with the UB street children evokes a real sense of the children’s need for love, attention, and a secure environment to live in. (please see ‘The Long Way Round’). The Lotus Centre’s mission is to supply each of these needs.
From babes and tots
to kids and teenagers.

The Lotus Centre is TOTALLY dependant on charitable donations of time and money from within the country and abroad. These Singaporean volunteers are enthusiastically entertaining the kids on their last day in the Centre. Their main mission has been to redecorate part of the centre, providing the materials and the labour to make it happenWith Wai Ling making new friends,
and seeing despair turned to joy, The Lotus Centre’s mission IS succeeding.

But Lotus needs money, equipment and people power to keep succeeding. Please visit the Centre’s website at www.lotuschild.org and if you can, I urge you to help by making a donation. You WILL make a difference. Thank you.

6th September and the First Snow!

A month early from the north. We went from shirt sleeves to padded jackets and woolly hats in 24 hours.

Not that people seem to bothered about it. It is only – 2 degrees, what is the fuss about?

Bridge International College.

Mongolian language classes are small. There is nowhere to hide! For three hours each morning, the four of us are drilled, coached and encouraged by two alternating tutors, Enkh (pictured) and Tsema. And it IS becoming fun. I never thought I would ever,ever say that!!

But coffee breaks are always welcome……chat conducted in English, of course.

Our barber shop trio, in Mongolian of course.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Best View.

Clouds reflected in hills!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Herder's Familly Ger Visit

Some of the crew prior to departure from the VSO office. Look pretty sinister looking lot to me!! A minibus was about to take us a 1.5 hours drive west of UB to visit a family living on the steppes.

Having left the City and the main road behind, we took off on tracks across the landscape to find our family. The tracks are remarkably smooth and despite not being a 4x drive the bus fairly motored along. That is until we met livestock or crossed a dried up riverbed.

The family we were visiting live in a shallow valley with three other gers quite close. They move 4 times each year with the seasons.

And the views were just spectacular. No noise. No trees or fences for the wind to rustle or whistle through. Just open, uninterrupted space. You could literally set off walking in a straight line and not have to deviate from it. The Romans would have loved it here!!

The family met us and we were invited to join them inside their cosy home

Even with 20 additional people, the ger was very accommodating and just felt so secure and calming. We enjoyed a lunch of dumplings, hot milk, milk tea, dried yoghurt as well as popcorn and home brewed milk wine.

The kids and I played with their Lego. The little girl already rides horses. I missed that on camera. Kicking myself over that one!!! She is only 6 years old!!!

A fascinating visit. A traditional life style that is adopting new technologies. TV with photoelectric cells and wind turbines for power can be seen beside gers. These portable modern devises are likely to help preserve the nomadic life, if the Mongolians wish it so.