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.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sain bain uu?

Greetings all! We just had our last day of language class today so it will be nice to have a break for a little while. This weekend was pretty nice because we didn't have to go away for the whole time. Friday, Mike, Allison, John and I went to the black market which is always interesting and crazy. They sell everything there from remotes and satellite dishes to fake purses to my favorite organge lolliepops. It is a truly remarkable and shady place.

On Saturday John, Allison and I went to a smithsonian archeology conference about deer stones which was pretty interesting but we could really only handle half a day of that. Listening to translations can get tiring, so I can't imagine what it would be like actually doing the translating. After sitting around the rest of the day we went to Dave's place and encountered a Mongolian teenage punk band that did a lot of Elvis covers along with many drunk ex-pats and a crowd of Mongolians surrounding the bar. Mike, Allison and I then went to an awesome discotech with Australian Mike and proceeded to dance for what seemed like a long time. It was so fun because we interpretive danced during the very slow dances and everyone thought we were very drunk but in reality we weren't. It was a very good night and I hope to do something like that again soon.

The contracted Phillipino band did a wide range of mostly english songs and it was very entertaining. It is ironic because as far away from home as you think you are getting, it is impossible to escape American pop. It seems that it can infiltrate every little crevasse of the earth's population. This city is especially interesting because it is located in the east but is much more european then you would expect. The majority of adults here were educated in Russia or other Eastern European countries where they picked up the subleties of fashion and style. Just like in Moscow, all of the girls where high heels that if I were wearing on these cracked sidewalks, would lead to many tragic accidents, most likely involving a taxi or microbus. The rate of development here, in terms of construction, is also astounding. From week to week the city landscape is changing because the Mongolians seem to have found a goldmine in construction. Ironically enough, they don't have the infrastructure to mine their own massive gold mines but they do have the ability to build apartments for foreigners who are making large sums of money by mining Mongolia's gold for themselves and a little for Mongolia. The OT (not sure exactly what it is called in Mongolian), down in the deep Gobi, is soon to be the largest gold mine in the world, yet the Monglians are only making 15% profit from Ivanhoe, the mining company in charge of the project. This is causing a lot of political turmoil here in capital. I'm not really sure what is fair so I am trying to keep my mouth shut about the subject. I may get to visit there after my research is done.

I am actually leaving for the field Friday so this will be my last post until then. To all anyone who is worried because I don't respond to my emails for a while, that is why. So until then....