Wild Packs of Family Dogs

Choibalsan Travel Blog

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The first pour.

The big news here in camp is I finally got my coffee maker, yes!!!  It arrived with a couple of the big muckity mucks and a couple bags of German coffee.   Mmmmm.  I got a picture of the first pour.

I also finally got one of my teachers to teach me the phrase “you have an ass like a Russian woman” in Mongolian and Russian!  In Mongolian, “chi oros emegtei shig bogstei”, in Russian, “u tebya jopa kak u ruskai babi”.  I had to beg quite a bit though.  And I still don’t know why you’d say it in the first place.  One of my ger-mates said one of the male surveyors has an ass like a Russian woman, so I assume its an insult.  Big butt I think.  I also learned how to say “shut up stupid” in Russian, which brings it to four languages that I can say “shut up stupid”.

Me, riding a Mongolian horse
  I’m learning good things too!

I’ve downloaded Yahoo Messenger to chat with my fellow co-workers, which adds a tricky element to learning Mongolian, spelling!  Spell check doesn’t have a clue how to speak Mongolian.  And I can barely spell in English.

I also learned the name for the fried, heavily seasoned steak stuffed with bacon and cheese they keep serving us for lunch.  Irish stew…???  I guess the concept of a stew is lost here.  Oh well, Irish stew lunch means pickle pizza night is not far off!

I got to take a horse ride the other day!  I was visiting one of the drills, they’re drilling a water well for the new camp, and some of the people who are building the new camp were hanging around surveying.

Destruction creation, Mardai.
  Apparently a guy from the area just rides his horse here and hangs out.  Not a lot to do around here I guess!  I kept taking pictures of it so he offered me a ride.  The horses here are very small and shaggy and un-shoed.  They have these bright, ornately painted, wooden saddles that I can’t imagine would be comfortable on a long ride in the middle of winter.  Basically the guy just took me around in a couple circles, he said I could ride it by myself but I wouldn’t have the slightest idea how.  I got the pictures anyway :)

I also finally got to go to Mardai!  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s the closest town to the mine.  It was a town built by the Russians to service the mines in the area, but after the fall of the Soviet Union was completely torn apart and sold for scrap.

Destruction creation, Mardai.
  Everything, the pipes, the rails, were taken.  The concrete and brick buildings were destroyed.  It looks like a war zone.  They destroyed all the buildings by hand to sell the bricks, the rebar inside of the concrete blocks, or the concrete blocks themselves.  My company has actually bought some of it to build the camp and the structures around the mine.  Some of the buildings are leveled flat.  There are still a few people living there, they use a hand pump for water now.  Some of the houses and shops were built out of scraps from the old buildings.  Cows grazing among the ruins, wild packs of family dogs, its right there along with Mad Max and Jalalabad.  The only building that wasn’t scrapped was City Hall, which is under the protection of the Aimag (Province) though what that means I don’t really know.
Old Soviet apartments, Mardai.
  It was a really pretty town once.  Its full of birch and poplar trees, more trees than I’ve seen anywhere since I’ve gotten here.  The Russians liked to plant things.  They even had a greenhouse set up on the mine property near the generators for warmth.  I took lots of pictures though with my film camera.

I learned today that on the way out (7 more days!) I get to stay overnight in Choibalsan.  They changed the flight schedule so its too early to drive from camp in the morning.  It should be neat; I only got to see Choibalsan briefly on my way in.  It too is a little Mad Max, though not to the extent of Mardai.

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The first pour.
The first pour.
Me, riding a Mongolian horse
Me, riding a Mongolian horse
Destruction creation, Mardai.
Destruction creation, Mardai.
Destruction creation, Mardai.
Destruction creation, Mardai.
Old Soviet apartments, Mardai.
Old Soviet apartments, Mardai.
Choibalsan
photo by: cltaylor56