Music: How it has saved me in Mongolia

It is no secret that I LOVE music.  I love it in all of its genres:  classical, pop, rock, indie etc.  It is a part of my daily life.  I was a bit worried when coming to Mongolia that I wouldn't have access to making music or musicians.  Boy was I wrong!  I am so lucky that I was placed in UB.  UB has a thriving classical music scene.

There is an opera house on the east side of Sukhbaatar square.  It is a stately pink building that has been dwarfed by surround buildings but provides amazing music.  During my time in Mongolia I have visited it to see the following performances:

  • Scheherazade  [ballet by Rimsky-Korsakov]
  • The Nutcracker [ballet by Tchaikovsky]
  • Aida [opera by Verdi]
  • Requiem [Verdi]
  • Madama Butterfly  [opera by Puccini]
  • Swan Lake   [ballet by Tchaikovsky]
  • La Bohème  [Opera by Puccini]
  • A concert of various Mozart works
  • numerous Mongolian operas and ballets
Each of these performances was really well done.  I am still in awe of Madama Butterfly and Verdi's Requiem.  Stunning!

I also came to Mongolia with an interest in throat singing (хөөмий in Mongolian).  This was at the prompt of my organ instructor who introduced me to the documentary "Genghis Blues."  I was able to study хархираа (harhiraa) for a few months with a student from my university.  We didn't get very far but I can do it!  Harhiraa is the really deep undertone style of throat singing.  It produces a note that is an octave below the note sung.  Quite fun . . . but hurts your voice.  Thank heavens I'm not a singer!

In November of 2011 I bought a morin khuur (horse headed fiddle) and took lessons from a professor at the College of Dance and Music.  Mind you . . . I had never played a string instrument before and learning from a professor at this college is like studying at the Juilliard Institute of Mongolia.  My teacher, Ganbold, was great.  He was quite expensive from a volunteer's point of view but he taught me a lot about the instrument and the basics of it.  He taught me the Mongolian proverb эзэн хичээвэл заяа хичээнэ which, when roughly translated, means: If you endeavor to do something, fate will be with you.  He told me to never forget it so I had it tattooed on my left arm.

I was only able to study with him for one month but I learned a lot and am eager to study again once I get back to the states and have more money and some time to devote to it.

 Being surrounded by new musical experiences was exhilarating to me.  I learned so much about Mongolian culture through its music.  Mongolians love to sing and they taught me many of their traditional songs which I now sing in karaoke to their great delight!

One of the greatest points in my Mongolian musical career began in December of 2012.  I saw a Mongolian friend on facebook talk about a choir concert in Mongolia.  Aside from Verdi's Requiem I hadn't heard of a choir in Mongolia so I was really eager to see and hear it.  I asked him about it and he invited me to attend the rehearsal that night.  The choir was part of the Church of Latter-Day Saints in Mongolia. I attended the rehearsal and met the director, Unurjargal.  She is a famous opera singer in Mongolia and is very kind, generous, and caring.  That night their pianist wasn't able to make it so my friend volunteered me to sight read their Christmas program.  It was such a treat for me to sight read excerpts from "The Messiah" and play hymns and carols that were so familiar to me (although the hymns and carols were sung in Mongolian).

From that day forward until May 2013 I worked with the choir at every rehearsal.  They rehearsed twice a week (Thursday and Sunday evenings) for about 90 minutes.  It was a lot of work having to do it all in Mongolian but I was allowed to be their rehearsal pianist, assistant conductor and I helped them with their English diction.  Being around choral music again was such a needed activity for me!  When I would have a bad day in Mongolia I could always turn on my ipod and listen to a bunch of choral music which was great but being able to perform it and help shape musicians was beyond amazing.

In February 2013 I had a nasty safety and security incident that really rattled me.  It made me question why I was in Mongolia, did Mongolians even care about me, and what was keeping me here.  After weeks of contemplating leaving Mongolia the answers to some of those questions became clear.  My teachers and students at my school needed and wanted me, they and all my new friends in the Mormon choir cared about me, and music and English was keeping me in Mongolia.

I continued to stay with the choir and helped them prepare for an Easter concert held on March 31, an anniversary festival held in April and I was able to play with them for the 8th annual Mongolian Choir Festival held on May 1.  They are a great group of musicians and it was an honor to work with them.

They may not ever know it but the friends I made in the choir saved me from myself.  They pulled me out of a really dark place and surrounded me with love, music and so many smiles.  I am so grateful to them for their musicianship, eagerness to learn and grow in music and for their friendship.  Unurjargal, their director,  Buted, their artistic director (who is a VERY famous Opera Singer) and Otgonchimeg, their pianist, allowed me to express myself in music and share my love of music with everyone.  In January Buted went to America to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Hearing her stories about the music, the pipe organ and American culture was fascinating.  She is so talented!

I am lucky that my Mongolian was good enough to communicate my ideas in music but even if I didn't have the language skills required, music would communicate for me.  It has a way of combining and blending two very different cultures, people and ideas into an amazing musical experience.

To all of the musicians in Mongolia who have guided me, taught me and become my dear friends I say THANK YOU!  Маш их баярлалаа!  You are amazing people and I will cherish every memory and every moment spent with all of you.  Thank you for adding such gorgeous music to my Mongolian life.

The Opera House of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  Such gorgeous music is made there!

Me and Unurjargal.  She is such a kind and fabulous person!

A. Buted (famous opera singer) Unurjargal and Me after the Christmas Concert December 2012

A. Buted, Unurjargal and choir members

They look great at their Christmas Concert!

Ankhaa and me.  He introduced me to the choir.  

A. Buted and me taking the reigns of the rehearsal.  Their "fearless" leader?!

What fun to conduct and lead in a foreign language!

Easter Concert March 2013

Look at them boys!  Easter Concert March 2013
Ulzii and me.  He has become a dear friend of mine.
Ulzii and Zuluu

Dancers from the April Church Festival Concert

The Morin Khuur player at the concert.  Great player and great guy!


Going to the Gobi Take 2

Well around the first part of February yours truly went back to the Gobi.  I know what you are thinking . . . how could I possibly top last year's trip in April with such high lights as: Desert drinking, drag queen camels, monasteries and a monk?  Easy . . . my friend Alyse lives right on the border with China.  I HAD to go visit her in her ger.

Alyse is a Community and Youth Development Volunteer in a public school in Zamiin Uud.  When I visited her she lived in a small ger in a yard with two other gers.  I forgot how difficult ger life can be and it gets even more difficult when you live alone and have to go through two FRIGID Mongolian winters.  Alyse handles it all with grace and ease.  She truly deserves a "Suck It, Apartment Dwellers" Peace Corps badge.  I complain about having no hot water . . . she has NO running water!

Here is how to survive in a ger (as seen by an outsider)

6:00 AM
Get your ass up and out of bed!  Mind you, your bed is warm from the cocoon of blankets and the toasty, Peace Corps issued sleeping bag.  Gotta start that fire.

-Alyse proceeds to beat the smoke pipe to knock all the ash into the stove.  Then she exits the ger (in frigid temps!) to dump the ash.  Next she begins her magic making fire technique.  It involves expertly stack wood and alternating with paper to make the perfect fire.

-I wouldn't stand for this crap . . . I would probably just pay someone to make my fire.  Alyse is too amazing for that!

After you have started your fire, get back in bed and wait for exactly one hour.

7:00 AM
Your ger is now warm enough that you can walk around and be quite warm.

-Make your breakfast (yogurt and granola!), get dressed, wash your face and brush your teeth.  But . . be careful with water consumption because there is no running water.  Conserve that H2O!

After this time we would just hang out, browse the interwebs, listen to her amazing music selection and as Alyse put it . "occasionally talk" which works perfectly for us.

Before Alyse would leave her ger to go out for the day, she would throw a huge piece of coal on the fire.  This piece of coal would make the ger uncomfortably hot if you were to stay in but when going out it will serve to keep the ger warm until you come back.

If we stayed in her ger for the day, she would have to constantly shovel more coal and wood on the fire to keep it going.  Her day revolves around that fire.  Without it, you just can't function.

Other thoughts on ger life:

  • Going to the bathroom is always an ordeal.  You have to gauge how badly you have to go . . . if the urge isn't that strong, wait a bit.  Then when the time comes, put on your shoes, put on your coat, grab some toilet paper, and head out to the outhouse.  Mind you, it gets really cold in Mongolia at night (-40 F/C) and you notice it on your bare skin!
  • Speaking of cold, at night your water will freeze and if you are gone for more than a day the things in your refrigerator will freeze along with everything else in your ger.
  • Everything can be burned.  Traditionally, Mongolians don't burn trash in their ger stoves but Alyse would burn anything papery as it made good kindling.

To all my friends who live in gers . . . you effing rock!!  You have survived two really hard and difficult winters in Mongolia and you have thrived.  Well done!

And to Alyse, you are an amazing person, a true friend and a great example of a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Check out her blog: Words Not Made With Lungs

Here are some pictures of her ger
The ger stove 

Shovel that coal!

Speaking of coal . . . 
The large pieces used to keep it hot during the day

Looking amazing while keeping me warm!

Notice how I am only taking pictures and not assisting in any way.

Her perfectly made and maintained fire

Her beautiful ger poles.  I love this look!
Her khadag (traditional blue scarf)
The support post of the ger.  So beautifully decorated!

Her home!

The other gers in the yard.

The throne . . .aka outhouse.


I'm dreaming of a -40 F/C Christmas

 So it is that fun time of year when it gets colder than the center of hell (according to Dante's Inferno).  Currently on Sunday, December 2 at 11:45am it is -2 F (-19 C).  Fun Fact - - at -40 Celsius and Fahrenheit merge.  It is beautiful!

When I talk with people who don't live in Mongolia they always ask me if I am prepared for winter.  It is like asking people on the Titanic if they were ready to go swimming.  The answer is - not really!  Coming from Nebraska, I am no stranger to cold but this level and length of cold is something that was new to me last year.

Nebraska winters can be bi-polar.  One day will be 40 F and the next will be 0 F.  Or, like last year, it could be 70 F the entire time.  Mongolia, thanks to Ceiling Cat, is more stable in her winter attack.  It begins to get cold in October and steps you down slowly and carefully to -40 C/F.  This gives you time to acclimate and get your winter things ready.

According to Mongolians, winter hasn't officially started yet.  There are 81 days of winter and the date when winter starts changes each year due to their lunar calendar.  So right now it is still 'fall' but I beg to differ.

If you want to survive the Mongolian winter just ELOPE!

1.  EAT! EAT! EAT!
Your body will burn a lot of calories just trying to stay warm.  So . . you must give it a lot of fuel.  I usually throw down a lot of Clif bars each day and drink milk tea that I lace with butter for extra fat.

The best way to stay warm is to layer properly.  I start with a base layer of thermals (I have transitioned to my thickest ones) and then put a long sleeved shirt on top of that followed by a cashmere sweater.  I also wear a thick pair of Smart Wool socks.  They are a life saver!

3.  Outerwear!  Outerwear! Outerwear!
You have to wear a good coat, warm hat, great gloves and a couple of scarves.  In the city, I wear a wool pea coat with a jacket beneath.  This will suffice in UB and keep me warm.  If I venture outside the city or will be outside for a prolonged period of time I switch to a beautiful North Face Down coat.  This keeps me toasty!  I usually wear two scarves.  One to keep in my body heat and another to cover my mouth. (When your mouth gets cold you lose the ability to enunciate and sound really special for a little bit!).
Gloves are really important!  My hands are ALWAYS cold so I put them in my coat pockets to add another layer to trap heat.  This helps a lot.  If you listened to the advice of your kindergarten teacher, you should know to always wear a hat.  This keeps your ears from freezing off.

4. Prance! Prance! Prance!
This just means to keep moving.  I will sometimes walk 5 km from a university to the city centre in -40 weather just to keep moving.  I get really hot that way and don't have to stand at a bus stop for 15-20 minutes outside in the frigid air.

5.  Entertain! Entertain! Entertain!
Going outside at night can be a real drag.  That is when it is the coldest and it is harder to see ice and you can fall. (I sound like I am 92 years old!).  So I find plenty of things to do to keep myself entertained.  Currently I have three books in progress on my kindle and I play a lot of card games.  When feeling less book wormy, I watch a lot of t.v. and movies that are on my external hard drive.  This year I am lucky to have a keyboard so I can practice some Bach and Widor to my heart's content!

So if you just ELOPE you can survive the Mongolian winter.

Fun facts about the cold of Mongolia:
You can feel your nose hairs freeze when you breathe in through your nose.
Sometimes your tear ducts freeze if you don't blink often enough.
Due to the pollution your snot turns black! (Hooray!)
Apparently your the cord on your headphones can snap due to freezing.
Your phones get jacked up if you don't keep them next to your body and warm.
No need for a freezer in your house . . .just put your food on the porch.

A normal late October outfit.  Light later of long underwear, normal socks, wool coat , scarf, gloves and a hat.

A normal December outfit.  Thick long underwear, heavy socks, a jacket, wool peacoat, two scarves, gloves and a hat.

My "crap it's cold" outfit.  Heavy thermals, heavy socks, down coat, scarves, gloves and a hat.
A good sampling of my winter gear.  1 layer of light long underwear, 2 sets of thick long underwear, 4 pairs of gloves, 7 pairs of socks, many scarves and hats.

Many of my sweaters.  I have a problem.  This is about 60% of the sweaters I have here.  The rest were in storage at the time.

My long underwear brings all the boys to the yard.  Maybe . . .
I call this "Portrait of warmth."
A sunset view of UB as seen from my balcony.  It does provide a nice view!

Well I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and I hope you are well and warm wherever you are!


Granny Panties and Hand-washing

So this post is about my favorite thing in all of Peace Corps-dom.  Hand washing.  Long gone are the days of washing machines, dryers, nicely scented detergent and fabric softener.  My laundry is now done with my two hands, detergent and a drying rack.  I want to walk you through my routine of hand washing.  It's a good thing.

Hand washing  Chris Lyons Style

STEP 1.  Open up a beer and immediately enjoy its foamy goodness

While enjoying this tasty beverage ask yourself a few IMPORTANT questions:
     1.  When was the last time I washed some jeans?
               If you can remember when, it is NOT time to wash your jeans.  Jeans are a pain in the ass to           wash and I hate doing it every time.

    2.  Can I put off doing this until another day?
            If the answer is yes, continue enjoying your beverage and worry no more.  If the answer is NO due to a lack of clean underwear or shirts, then proceed to step two.

Important note:  If you have snowflake tights now is the time to strap those badboys on.  You will need to be comfortable and flexible to move all that water.

STEP 2.  Say a little prayer to ceiling cat or laundry god or Kim Jong Il
I keep hoping that one of the above mentioned deities will send me a washing machine from the sky.  So far, no luck.  If those deities fail you, begin heating up water.  Clothes are about to be washed.

STEP 3.  Gather necessary accoutrements

Start with washing powder that you have poured into an empty glass jar because empty glass jars are fun.

Then it comes time for the weird smelling "New Top" bar of soap . . . to really get out those stains ( I just don't care enough so my clothes are stained all the time)

And finally, the  tumpin (pink bucket) and  liquid laundry detergent (it is labeled for black clothing but I like the ways it smells so I use it for everything.)

STEP 4 Sort your clothes and get ready to hate your life for a while
Since there is no machine and you can't do multiple loads of laundry, you gotta sort by color: lights to darks.  Also, the plastic bag is for resting the wet clothes on top of while rinsing and such.

STEP 5  Add detergent and agitate them clothes!

Spin your clothes around like it is Hurricane Filth.  (which it pretty much is).  I usually lose steam after 5 seconds so I go and finish my beer and just let them sit there.

STEP 6 While waiting for clothes to have all the dirt soaked out of them, think about how much you dislike handwashing

And then begin wringing out the soap

STEP 7 After washing and wringing all clothes, empty the dirty water and fill your bucket with fresh water and rinse them.  Some people rinse until the water runs clear.  I don't.  Case in point:
My water after rinsing all the soap out of my clothes: (it should be clear)

STEP 8 Get out your drying rack and hang up the clothes to dry.  If you really care, you should line up your seams so they don't start turning on you.  Again, I don't really care so I don't try that hard.

STEP 9 Treat your hard worked hands to some lotion from Bath and Body Works.  Incidentally this cashmere extract comes from Mongolia.  

While you are slathering your hands in cashmere goodness, reflect on what you have just done.

I don't know how the Mongolians do it. . . . they hand wash their clothes without complaining, their clothes look perfect and their seams aren't turning.

My clothes are covered in cat hair, the seams are turning and my blacks are no longer black.

AND my underwear is all stretched out.

SEE!  My granny panties.  They are beautiful!

If you have followed my sure-fire way for washing (or ruining) your clothes, they should be dry in 12-24 (sometimes longer) hours.  In the winter, you can throw socks and underwear on the radiators to dry in record time but that might lead to rust stains but I don't care.

Now go hand wash like your life depended on it!


Thoughts On One Year in Mongolia

I cannot believe it has been over one year since I came to Mongolia.  (Side note: I meant to write this on my one year anniversary . . . but that didn't happen!)  So much has happened to me and changed me over the last year.  I want to share some of these changes and thoughts with you.

1. Peace Corps
I still love the Peace Corps.  It is a fantastic organization that allows willing volunteers to share their talents, time and dedication with others.  Being a government organization, there are many rules and a lot of paperwork but it is SO worth it all.  At the end of the day, they are there to help assist volunteers to be as productive and creative as possible.

Being in a country that has around 140 volunteers, I have met many people from all different walks of life.  I consider them all friends and colleagues.  They have taught me a lot about themselves and have taught me about me.  I have a few VERY close friends in Peace Corps and I am honored and so very happy to have them in my life.

2.  Mongolia
Mongolia has changed me in ways I didn't know possible.  One year ago I came here having never eaten a boiled sheep's head.  I have now eaten that more times than I can count.  Before coming to Mongolia I didn't know much about it.  I knew it was cold, the land of Chingis Khan and a wide open country.  It is all of those things but I have found so much beauty in the country and in its people.

Mongolia, in places, can look like Nebraska.  It is wide open, full of fields and has farmers and fabulous sunsets.  It makes me happy when I see the canvas of the eternal blue sky painted with vibrant purples, pinks and oranges.  It also has rolling, verdant hills called steppe and looming ancient mountains.  Everything here is just gorgeous.

The Mongolian people are so kind, giving and genuine.  Their hospitality is amazing.  I am so honored to have many Mongolian friends who help teach me about this country, themselves and where they want Mongolia to go in the future.

3.  Music
A little over one year ago I spent many hours each day practicing and perfecting the art of playing the pipe organ.  I haven't seen or touched an organ during the last year and I miss it SO much!  But . . . I have immersed myself in Mongolian music.  I studied the morin khuur (horse-headed fiddle) at the School of Dance and Music.  It is fascinating learning about that instrument and learning a musical instrument in a foreign language was challenging and rewarding.  Recently, I have studied the art of throat singing (or hoomii in Mongolian).  Thank goodness I am not a professional singer . . . I am pretty sure my vocal chords have bled since I began practicing.

The music on my iPod has also changed immensely.  I still have an unhealthy amount of organ and choral music on it but it has been enhanced by a lot of Indie music.  This is due, in large part, to the gathering of volunteers to swap media.  I have learned of many new artists like: Of Monsters and Men, Ingrid Michaelson, William Fitzsimmons and Sufjan Stevens.  Each artist has had one song resonate with me at a particular time to help me deal with an emotion.  I am eager to explore these artists more.

4. Me!
Perhaps I have learned more about myself than I have anything else over the last year!  I am a much more patient person now.  Waiting outside in the -30 F weather for a bus taught me that good things come to those who wait.  While teaching English, I was frustrated with the slow progress that seemed to be happening but I waited and suddenly the progress was so evident and I was so proud of each student with whom I worked.

I have been reminded that love is stronger than hate.  Being a part of the LGBT community in this country and working at the LGBT Centre has showed me that being surrounded by love allows you to overcome hardship and come together to work for equality.  I am so honored and proud of everyone at the centre and those who are working so hard for human rights and equality.

I have come to the realization that there is something inside all of us that connects us as human beings and brings us together.  It is underneath our shame, sorrow and pain.

And so I have another year in Mongolia.  I am ecstatic about being given the opportunity to work here again with great people and fabulous friends.  Of course, I miss my family and friends back home but it is their love and support that allows me to continue my work here.

To you all in America, keep being cool by planting your gardens, finding joy in life, pursuing your passions and loving one another unconditionally.  I will see you all in under one year!

With love and respect,


P.S. I PROMISE I will blog next week about "ghetto gardening" Peace Corps style.


Just goin' to the Gobi

Yes.......you read that title correctly.  I went to the Gobi (just went to the Gobi isn't as much fun for a title).
My friend and counter-part Oogii and I went to the Gobi desert two days.  As my life goes....the batteries in my camera died and NO store in Sainshand had ANY batteries!  A similar experience happend between my youngest sister and my father during her senior year.  He kept taking picture after picture documenting her life.....but he forgot to put film in the camera.  Oops!  So.......I have only a few pictures of the trip and only one picture of being in the Gobi.

Come with me as I spin my tale of train rides, greeting the sunrise, energy centers, beer and camels!

April 19
After teaching a few classes at Gazarchin, Oogii and I made our way to the train station.  She and I each had two bags.  I had a normal sized back pack and a messenger bag and she had nearly the same.  Look....be proud people.  I am the QUEEN of overpacking and I totally didn't do it for this trip!

Our train left promptly at 4:30pm and we were on our way to Sainshand city in Dornogovi province.  It would be a 10 hour ride so I brought a lot of entertainment like my kindle and my iPod.  At the next stop, a two women joined us in our cubicle of English and awkwardness.  They were great!  They brought a lot of alcohol (because their husbands don't like them to drink at home) and some fabulous huushuur.  They were both curious about me and were surprised when I spoke in Mongolian (however limited it may be!)  One woman commented on how thin I am and how I am not really that masculine.  (You think?!)  She said her son was just like me.  Thin and not masculine.......I should get his number.

We drank a bottle of cherry wine that tasted like Robitussin and I proceeded to take two Tylenol PM and passed out for the remainder of our train ride.  Fortunately......I woke up at 1:30am which gave me time to fix my hair (I looked like I could have auditioned for the Broadway version of Lion King!).  We left the train and were picked up by our driver.

He took us to a store where I tried to buy batteries but they were non-existent.  Instead we bought sausage, bread and a bunch of beer.  Then at 3:00am.....four of us drove out in to the Gobi desert to start our trek!  But first.......we had to stop in the middle of the desert and consume our beers.  So there I am drunk at 3:30am.......riding around in a car........still effed up from my Tylenol PM..........there are no roads and I desperately wanted a pair of silk eye shades.

April 20
We waited for the magical time of sunrise to come.  Finally at 5am the sun was almost up.  We drove to the top of a hill near Hamar monastery to greet the day.  Mongolians greet the sunrise with palms facing the sun to feel its energy.  You can also take a box of milk and squirt it at the sun.  That works too.  Mongolians place a high value on dairy and use it a lot in their rituals.  They also throw it on stone piles called ovoos.

After the sun came up and I felt a little less drunk we went to the Energy Center.  This is a really large area filled with stupas and other symbols of Buddhism.  It was really quite neat.  The next stop on our Gobi jaunt was to the 108 meditation caves.  These caves were used by Buddhist monks for 60 days.  During those 60 days they were locked in the caves alone and were given food for only 30 days.  They spent their time meditating and following the teachings of their predecessors.  It was really fascinating to imagine someone doing that for 60 days.  I would go insane!

After eating a filling meal of tsuivan we proceeded to my favorite stop.  A camel herding family!  Gaah!  It was an older woman who lived in a ger with her daughter (around my age) and her two grandsons (maybe 3 and 4).  They had no electricity except for a large battery that would run a power strip.  They based their entire livelihood around this animal.  It was fantastic!

We politely asked if we could ride a camel and they obliged.  Our driver asked me if I could ride a horse and I very confidently said YES!  I am from Nebraska......and I have ridden a horse a few times in my life.  The last time was in Bolivia in 2001.....and I fell off the horse twice.......but I still rode the damn thing!  The camel bends down before me and I am instructed to get on.  After mounting my 'steed' I tried to make him stand up.  This is where he turned into a drag queen and judged me.  He wouldn't move!  I kicked him with my boots and gave him the command.  He just looked back at me and we had a dialogue between us that went like this:
Chris:  Camel....please get up and don't make me look stupid.

Camel:  Girrrrrrl.....suck it.  I am tired.

Chris:  Please?!  I will show you a kitten video on cuteoverload.com when you are done!

Camel:  No!  

Chris:  I like your outfit.  You look fierce.

Finally after our internal conversation the camel stood up.....but would not move in any direction.  It was at this point I was regretting the fact that I said I could ride a horse.  Here I am sitting on this damn camel and he won't move.....at all...... I wanted to delete the words from the driver's ear canal.  After a while I just had to own it.  It is kind of like when you clog a toilet at someone else's house.  You just gotta bow your head and ask for the plunger.  In this case I gave the driver the rope and he led me around............like I was riding a horse at the Y of the Rockies in Estes Park.  

After my embarrassing ride on the camel we moved on to the final stop which is called the Black Mountain.  It is an imposing mountain with a steep climb up many stairs to reach the top.......where only men can go.  I somehow made it all the way to the top.  It was breath taking!  If only I had my camera.......DAMN!

On our drive back in to Sainshand we saw a bunch of camels just hanging around.  My batteries mustered enough life to take one picture.  So my picture in the Gobi is of us chasing camels around in a car (It felt like chasing an Amish man driving a horse and buggy........)  

After that Oogii and I crashed in to bed and didn't wake up for 18 hours.  The next evening, April 21 we went back to UB on the train and made it in on Sunday morning, April 22 after an uneventful trip back.

So there you have it.....my quick trip to the Gobi.  

Here are like three pictures of my trip.  Thanks cheap batteries!

Oogii being cute as always!

Me being.....well.....weird.

The hallway of our train.  Much better than Amtrak!

Our morning in the Gobi.  Sun is almost up!

Feel the energy of the gorgeous sunrise!

Oogii honoring the women's ovoo by splashing it with milk.

Just chasin' them camels!

Za.  There is my blog for now.  I am running out of ideas.......WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW!  Leave me comments or send a smoke signal or something..........Then I will blog about it!

Be well,