Six students from the University of Pittsburgh Honors College trek across Mongolia in search of illumination, perspective, and the perfect cup of Yak-milk tea.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Platypus is a Monotreme

We've completed nearly a week of Mongolian school minus the day off for Mother and Child Day, or the Festival of Screaming Brats with Water Guns. Actually, the holiday is taken seriously here to honor the role of the mother and to appreciate the little ones. The holiday gave all of us the chance we needed to decompress after a stressful flight and explore the city a bit. From touchdown till now one of the most striking things about Mongolia that I've noticed is the prepoderance of Western (mainly American) culture here. From mobile phones and Diesel clothes to Mongolian rap videos that could play on AET (Asian Entertainment Television), Mongolians have really taken to the West. Which does not explain the lack of proper infrastructure in the city. One would think in a city where college kids wear the latest fashions and have the cell phones with the coolest gizmos there would be sidewalks instead of rows of rubble, and reliable electricity instead of the occasional, limited blackouts. That must be globalization. On the other hand the influence of the West has brought an fascinating mix of Westerners (besides us) to the country. The night before last, we ate dinner with a grad student from UNC Chapel Hill who's been here since Februray. Last night I had the best burger I ever tasted from Dave's Place, an outdoor English style pub and restaurant run by an Austrailian, which explains "outdoor, English style". We came in third in a weeking trivia contest held by Dave himself. It was tons of fun before the power went out and just about as much fun afterwards. So wrapping up the first week, the food's good, the apartment's great, and our Mongolian language teacher is a hoot. That's all from my end. I hope everyone's staying well and I apologize belatedly and in advance for missed birthdays.
Till next time.