Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nora broke her favourite reading glasses so I picked these out for her... and got myself a pair too.  I like the upside down sort of design.  Nora resisted at first but I think she now admits that they do quite suit her.  Despite the fact that Australia's awash with cheap, boring reading glasses from China, the Chinese themselves prefer fancier ones from Japan.

And weirdly, the cheap ones in Australia, presumably from China, come in strengths that increase by 0.25, in China the 1.75's etc. are unavailable in ready made reading glasses.  Ah, but then again, you can have a prescription pair done in China, within a couple of hours, for less than $20.

Statue of the day... no doubt some general.  Perhaps I should have straightened the photo... at the moment it looks like they've got a Leaning General of Ulan Bator thing going...

We had another concert planned for the evening.  This time the usual... Mongolian music and some contortionists...

I wonder how it came about that contortionists became a sort of folk art in Mongolia? Whatever the reason it's pretty impressive.  I wonder whether any olympic gymnast could do the same thing.  Perhaps it's what the ice follies are to olympic figure skating.

Another huge morin khor... probably the biggest of the trip.

We finished up at a karaoke.  Neither Nora or Sally got a pic of me singing Mongolian karaoke with Odko.  Perhaps they were so mesmerised by our singing?

Nora got into it as well.  She picked some song completely inappropriate for karaoke but she made a valiant effort.

In fact she was so into it that she had to stand up to really belt it out.

We finished up the night at Dave's Pub for the Germany England soccer match.  I was ready to walk out if England hit the front but there was no danger of that by the time we got there. 

I started chatting to a couple of women, two tourists from Germany and things were going well until they said good-bye to Nora and Sally as they left and Sally made some comment about the German sense of humour and not mentioning the war.  They didn't quite catch what she'd said so I had to tell them... and it turns out to be true... whatever you do... don't mention the war! 

I must say though... how can you expect some joke that we all know from some English comedy programme to have entered Germany?..  Especially one that revolves around the war.  They've spent the last 50 years having to pretend they feel guilty about it so they can hardly start laughing about it...  The worst thing is that after the Germans left, stone-faced, Sally laughed about it for the next hour...  Sadly, she's still probably laughing about it weeks later...

We also chatted to an Italian who's been living in Ulaan Baatar for 10 years.  He reckons he can't speak Mongolian but I'm not convinced.  He went on about how difficult Mongolian grammar is so I started getting stuck into him about it.  Just need to go about it the right way and all that. 

From what he was saying though, the westerners do mainly stick to their pubs in the central district.  I think I've never come across a place where there's such an us and them mentality.  I wonder whether it was the same when the Russians were there? They would probably have had a much easier time learning Mongolian... but then again everyone learnt Russian at school.  Either way, mutual comprehension would have been pretty easy; perhaps things were different.

Anyway, he was a really nice bloke so I hope I wasn't too harsh on him over the Mongolian.  He hasn't been on lpump much so perhaps he's finding it too easy.

And no day would be complete without coming across a road accident.  Colombians, Italians, Filipinos... they've all got a reputation for crazy and scary driving but Mongolians are in a class of their own when it comes to ignoring all traffic rules.
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Zenon P on

What do you mean, "They (Germans) have spent the last 50 years having to pretend they feel guilty about it"? You, as an outspoken German, have never shown the slightest hint of guilt about the war. You go, Nora - sing as much karaoke as you like and throw cold water on Herr Budzul every time he drifts off to sleep. Do it for the motherland. Jeszcze Polska nie zginela.

spesbona on

A few years back, just after a whole season of Britain media celebrating D-Day and winning the war generally, the long-standing German ambassador - by all accounts quite an Anglophile - retired and he made a big farewell dinner speech in which he praised the country and displayed his high regard of everything British, etc.

After the speech a reporter asked him if there was ANYTHING he didnt like. (I put a question mark after that and then removed it in case it offended Herr Budzul, the notorious grammar terrorist pedant. (I hope thats correct too..!))

Anyway, I digress. The ambassador paused for a moment and then said cautiously "well I do think there have been too many war programmes in the media of late......

That was enough - next days headlines....


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