The sun it shines on me...

Choibalsan Travel Blog

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Me and the puppy.

Naadam (Наадам) is a Mongolian festival, formerly religious but now just a general national holiday, held from July 11th to July 13th. It celebrates the three “men’s” sports, wrestling (more topless Mongolian men), horse racing and archery. Women compete as well. It is also the 800th anniversary of something Chinngis (Ghenghis) Khan did, so it’s a super giant holiday this year. Originally I was supposed to fly from Choiblasan to Ulaanbaatar on the 12th, which would have meant I would have been able to see one day of the festival. Unfortunately it’s such a super giant holiday here the whole country shuts down and the flights are cancelled, so I have to fly out on the 8th.

Me, Kirstine, and the baby hawk.
Damn! I don’t leave for Canada until the 14th! I’ll have to stay for the whole thing! One of my friends has promised me some Arrack, fermented mare’s milk. Like beer. I can’t imagine someone milking a horse. I really don’t know what there is to do, but I bet it’s a little more interesting than QAQC.

Work is fine. Thursday was let the girls drive the Bobcat day. I finally realized my dream of driving a Bobcat. Now I have to think up a new reason to live. Friday was safari day. We went to the lake. Yes, an actual lake! There were swans and ducks. I saw some herdsmen’s gers along the way with herds of cows and horses. As well there were some large unidentified birds.

Due to the company’s questionable policy of hiring people for the same job with similar names, my cross shift Kirstine has arrived.

Driving the bobcat!
They’ve been abbreviating us K squared. My name starts with a K in Cyrillic.

As part of Kirstine’s orientation, Saturday was baby animal day. The baby hawk is getting big; it’s also getting adult feathers. There is also yet another new puppy, possibly the cutest friendliest puppy in the world. Its name sounds something like Hooder. It crawls into your arms like a little baby and nibbles on your hand, face, shirt, until it gets bored of the attention and wanders off for a nap. Me and Kirstine were fawning over the puppies, cuddling them and calling them cute names, so one of the guys remarked, I wish I was that dog.... Of course I’ll attach pictures of the baby animals. Kirstine’s orientation will continue over the next few weeks with trips to Mardai, the survey hill, the forest, and the other mines in the area.

Sunday was actually start dewatering the mine day, with a trip to Mardai for cigarettes and chocolate (the chocolate was for me, the cigarettes for the guys).

A lake!
Kirstine didn’t come with so I’ll have to go again soon.

Also because of Kirstine’s arrival they moved us into a new ger because they figured we’d want to live together. It’s nice, only two of us and we have a table and shelves. I was alone one night in the ger and everyone was looking after me as they thought I would be lonely. I was hanging out at one of the other gers, two gers away up the hill, and one of the guys insisted on walking me home. Chivalry is not dead here.

My Mongolian is progressing well. Our translator Bolor said he wasn’t going to teach me things anymore because if I learn any more then they can’t talk their boy’s talk in front of me. But the girls will still teach me! They’ve started speaking Russian when they don’t want me to understand. Ingenious. Now I have to learn more Russian….

On a walk from the office to the cafeteria one day I lost my security badge. We’re supposed to show them to security before we enter the mine site. This morning I drew myself a new security badge with my name and a crude picture on it, and they keep waving me in! Either I’m a really good drawer (I’m not) or I don’t look very threatening (this face?) or maybe they’re just not paying attention (must be that).

So with the exception of the moth infestation (they’re everywhere, in the drillhole binders, in the hand drier….) everything is peachy keen. The weather is fantastic. Everything has turned green. Birds are chirping. Flowers are blooming. I’m even getting a bit of a tan.

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Me and the puppy.
Me and the puppy.
Me, Kirstine, and the baby hawk.
Me, Kirstine, and the baby hawk.
Driving the bobcat!
Driving the bobcat!
A lake!
A lake!
Choibalsan
photo by: cltaylor56