It’s time for a new blog post about my Mongolian adventure, and what an adventure it is! For more than 7 months I’ve been living in this exciting country which in many ways are very different from Sweden and Europe.
The first obvious differences are the language, the food and the Mongolian planning. My Mongolian language skills are close to non-existing I only know some of the very common phrases such as hello, goodbye, ok, really and how to introduce myself. When it comes to food I do believe that I’m now used to the Mongolian food, at least the most common dishes such as the Mongolian versions of dumplings, noodles and soups. I have tasted food that I never had before and never really been thinking about to eat, however I still have a few couple of dishes that I need to tick off from my list such as camel meat, marmot meat and sheep head. I do have to admit that I spend way too much time thinking about what food that I will eat when I get back to Europe. Extra: I wrote this post on the Saturday morning, Saturday evening I tried sheep head for the first time!
A new way of planning
Next big difference is that compared to Europe planning is almost non-existing and for me this has been one of the biggest challenges since I love planning. The good part with it is that when you start your day you never know what might happen before the day is over. No planning also mean that things can happen very quickly here. If you want to invite people over for dinner you can literally invite people over 5 minutes before and it’s usually no problem. Since I’m not a big fan of cooking this works very well for me.
However, for me I do see the negative effects of not planning. Many events and happenings in schools, offices etc. is probably not as good as they could be. Students will not be able to attend their classes because of non-planned events and miss out on parts of their education. At last when nothing is planned things usually don’t start in time which means that many times you are ending up spending your time on just waiting. Most days I feel that I’m used to the lack of planning but every now and then I still get surprised (and many times frustrated) when things just happens out of the blue. This is only 3 things that is very different here and there is many more things to speak about but that will need to be in another blog post.
Ice festival in Murun
So what have I’ve been doing since my latest blog post? In the end of February I moved to my next learning center which is in Mörön. Mörön is a slightly bigger city then the previous places I worked in with a population around 35,000 people. Mörön is the province center of Khuvsgul province. Khuvsgul province is a popular destination for tourists with the largest fresh water lake in Mongolia surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains. I got the amazing opportunity to visit the lake at the time for the yearly ice festival.
I arrived to Murun after 24 hours of travelling, we had breakfast and then we drove the 100km to the ice-festival. After just moving to a new place and saying goodbye to my students in Mandalgovi I really didn’t had any time to build up any expectations about the ice festival. It was first when we arrived and we drove out on the lake (with 1 meter thick ice) that I realized that we were going to spend the full day on the ice. I was terrified! Surrounded by cars all driving on the ice to reach the festival I thought that the ice would break and we all would drown. Luckily the ice was thick enough and I got back home without a single bruise.
I had a second “I will die” experience that same day when two men were holding me up in the air so I could climb up on a camel standing on the thick ice waiting for me to fall down with me head before me feet. But I didn’t fell and instead I got a great picture of myself! During the ice festival I saw motocross race on the ice, ice skaters, ice statues, reindeers and traditional singing and dancing performances. We went sleigh riding on the ice and we enjoyed the slides fully made of ice. Wearing a borrowed traditional deel with my Mongolian jacket and my Russian winter hat (that I got from a nice backpacker in UB) I definitely felt like one in the crowd and I had an amazing time.
Developing new curriculums
Since I arrived to Mörön we have been working with developing two new curriculums, working with our contribution to the BOOKBRIDGE reducing single use plastic competition and done two school visit informing the students about the Mörön BOOKBRIDGE learning center. We have done Super Saturdays with the students which means cooking hamburger, visiting the local park, celebrating Easter and going on a hike. With my colleague Inés, who works as a fellow in Cambodia, we’ve been continuing developing our website The Activity Bank. So with a full schedule the time has been flying away and already in two weeks it’s time for my last move to my last learning center. The next stop will be Sukhbataar in Selenge provience, north of Ulaanbaatar, only a few kilometers from the Russian border. This is the place where my BOKBRIDGE journey started for two years ago when I participated in one of the capability programs.
Wish me good luck with my last two weeks here in Mörön and soon there will be a new update!