Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Fishy ice sculpture in Sukhbaatar Square.Tsaagan Sar market-FAT tailed sheep, outside the Lenin Museum aka Freedom Square
Tsaagan Sar Market- Milk vendors
As promised, here are some nice pictures of life in Ulaanbaatar.
Well, Actually the first one is not so nice. I fall nearly every day here. Everyone does, or they just slip and slide their way down the sidewalk. In the middle of all the sidewalks here, the ice is smooth and black from people literally sliding wherever they are going. It makes it really treacherous for those of us who just want to walk normally.
I was showing a friend around town today and I suggested we check out the Tsaagan Sar market. I don't think he had every seen so many animal carcasses just hanging out of the backs of cars! Some of the dead sheep had come from far Western Mongolia. As every good Mongol knows, meat tastes different from different parts of the country. I, however, can't tell the difference between mutton from Uvs or mutton from Khenti. The Tsaagan Sar market also had all kinds of white food: arrul, uruum, and other dairy product delicacies.
I also showed my friend the giant bust of Lenin that is inside the old museum. They are currently doing renovations in there, but I think the bust is gonna stay. Maybe it'll be a dance club or something!
V.I. Lenin and I inside the Lenin Museum
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Rounding the corner, trying not to inhaleVisibility, less than a mile
If the pollution wasn't there you would see a ger district in the hills.
I promise I'll write something that shows this city in a positive light soon! I think the winter blues are getting me. The mornings are the worst here. No one wants to leave the house because the air is so bad. I go to the gym everyday to get rid of my excess energy and to clear my head for thesis writing. Perhaps I'll take some pictures at the gym! I took these pics this morning around 10am. The taxi driver actually encouraged me to take pictures. I told him that my friends didn't understand how bad the pollution problem is here.
Usually by the middle of the day it clears up a bit, only to get awful again at night.
I can't wait to get outta the city!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I took some cold weather pics. After walking home today, I ran inside, grabbed my camera and headed for my balcony. It's a start! I think I'll take the camera outside of my home today! I know I lived here for 2 years before, but I guess I forgot how cold -40F actually is. To be honest, after -10F it all feels the same to me...unless there is wind. The worst thing about living in UB in this weather is the pollution. As you can see in the picture, that haze is pure smoke. The smoke comes from gers, cars, and coal burning power plants. This picture was taken at 11:30 am. Just for reference, in the summer, you can see the mountains in the distance. In the winter, I'm lucky if I can see the building across from mine!
I still love it here for some odd reason. I was at the disco on Saturday night and a Mongolian man turned to me and in English said, "it's Mongolia, you never know what's gonna happen." He said it!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Winter weather has really hit Mongolia with a vengeance in the past week or so. Records were broken all over the country last week for lows. Usually at this time of year it starts to warm up at the end of the "9 sets of 9". During the first set of 9, cows horns freeze. There are different indicators throughout the 9's. Somewhere in the middle vodka freezes, and then it gets warmer with different warm weather indicators. The city folks I live around laugh when I bring up the 9's, but in the countryside, following the 9's is serious business. All I know is that it's 9:45am and it's -31F. Yuck.
I promise to take some winter pics of UB for you all to see. It's just that it's so cold and to take off my gloves and expose my hands is frightening. I'll have to get a little fur coat for my camera too.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Below is an article from the UB Post
Illegal Vodka Production Uncovered in Police Raid
|Written by Ch.Sumiyabazar|
|Thursday, January 10, 2008.|
An illegal vodka distilling factory in the Songinokhairkhan District of Ulaanbaatar was discovered in a police raid last Sunday.
The Uurag Altai company, whose operation license was halted two years ago, was found distilling vodka with the fake label “Morit Khangai”, whose vodka has killed 14 people and hospitalized dozens of others. Also found were 200 liters of chemicals used in producing vodka, fake covers and print labels. “The small room where this business was conducted was horrible, small, and had a terrible stench. A container used for mixing chemicals was unclean. There were no safety or hygienic standards at all,” said a police officer.
Last week, two additional deaths were reported due to tainted vodka produced by the Asian Wolf company in Baganuur District that killed eleven people on New Year’s Eve. The deaths followed an emergency situation banning sales, distribution and bottling of alcoholic products in the metropolitan area. More than 60 people are receiving medical treatment in local hospitals in Baganuur, around 30 are in UB hospital due to poisoning. Relatives and families of those who died, received compensation of Tg900,000 each by the Government.
Monday, January 7, 2008
from the Australia News Agency:
ELEVEN new year revellers in Mongolia died and dozens more fell seriously ill after drinking vodka that contained industrial alcohol.
The incident has led to a temporary ban on selling vodka - the nation's favourite alcoholic drink - in the capital Ulan Bator, where the tainted liquor was purchased, Mayor Tudev Bilegt said.
The 11 people died shortly after drinking the vodka on New Year's Eve, while at least 35 others were taken to hospital suffering from poisoning, the National Emergency Management Agency said.
Two of the patients were in a critical condition, according to officials at the Central Military Hospital, where the most seriously poisoned were taken.
Authorities did not give details as to who the victims were, but television reports said many of them were at the same New Year's Eve party.
The killer vodka is believed to have come from one company, which produces eight different brands, according to the government's inspection agency. The agency warned all Mongolians to avoid buying those labels.
The inspection agency said the company mixed an industrial alcohol into the vodka, and that as many as 3000 litres of the killer product could have been made.
Mr Bilegt said the ban on all vodka would remain in place until an investigation was concluded into how and why the poisoned alcohol was made and got onto the streets.
Local press reports said one man had already been arrested for selling the industrial alcohol to the vodka company, although authorities had not confirmed this.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Filipino cover band, at Strings, in Ulaanbaatar, MONGOLIA!
My friends and I decided to go to Strings, a club in UB for New Years Eve. We had contortionists, clowns, and a Filipino cover band for entertainment. I should say, it was a mostly Filipino cover band, as the bass player was from Colombia. The most interesting part for me (aside from the dancing and drinking I did) was the amount of Russians and/or Russian speakers at the club. Every person who talked to me started in Russian, and then stared at me blankly when I responded in Mongolian telling them I didn't speak Russian. I guess we were all making assumptions. As it turns out, most of the people I was befriending were in fact Russian Buryats. Buryats are a Mongolian tribe that are mainly concentrated in, or around Ulan Ude in Russia. A few of the encounters were awkward as Buryats are ethnically Mongolian, so I was speaking to them and get really weird looks back. There were some Mongolian Buryats there to bridge the gap, but it was funny to be talking to someone, assuming you have some shared language, only to find out that you don't. All in all it was a fun New Years party. My new Moldovan-American friend actually won a bottle of champagne in the raffle (see video below).
So I have 2 videos for you. The first is the Filipino band appeasing the majority Russian crowd by playing this Russian pop song that I hear everyday. They even invited a Russian lady on stage to sing with them. Sorry I don't know who sings this song, maybe my Russian friends can fill in the blank here...
The next video is "Edgardo Elegante" accepting his award!
Happy 2008 Everyone!