3Nations: Scout Project and Ulaanbaatar

Right, I realise that it has been an age since my last 3Nations post, so please go to the expedition page to remind yourself what happened.... go on.... go on, go on, go on...

sorry about that, was channeling Mrs Doyle there!

I've made it a New Years resolution to get these done, it will happen!

Thursday 23rd July 2009

Given that the whole program has been thrown a bit off kilter; what with the storm, evacuation and moving the entire site; today was trying to get it back on track. So our plan was to head into Ulaanbaatar, for a bit of community service and culture.

All aboard the minibus! woo hoo

First stop on our magical mystery tour is the scout service project. This service project actually began before we had even left the UK. Money from the project and our fundraising was being used to build an official scout hall in Ulaanbaatar (and if I remember correctly it would be the first purpose built scout hall in Mongolia). The builders had been busy building the hall, our job during the trip was to paint the inside.

Our instructions were, well... basic to say the least.

"Blue, blue, purple, white"

... that and being handed the pot of paint and some brushes. Well, we say paint. It was more like blue water, but hey, you work with what you have!

The blank patch in the corner is damp from the storm two days before (the one from evacuation day)

Right into all those cracks!

You can see how thin the paint was... we had to do quite a number of coats

That little hut outside isn't storage... it's the toilet. We had been warned by previous aravts about this little hut of horrors and its preilous drop of doom.

After numerous hours of this we were taken to a shopping center food court. Food! And it's NOT mutton! It's even in the shape of pizza *mmmmm pizza* (scarily this was the one type of food that I missed the most during the trip)

After our meal that me, if not anyone else, happy we set off on our next stop on the magical mystery tour of Ulaanbaatar... the black market. Now don't worry, this is actually nothing illegal and doesn't hold any of the negative connotations that it does in the UK.

Aside from looking for some traditional mongolian stuff for souveniers, we had a rather bizarre shopping list:
  • Lino (for the floor of our ger, as our last lot got damaged)
  • a flat cap for Dan (because he decided that he would rather look a bit more dapper)
  • a hard hat for Pete (as he keeps hitting his head on the low ger doors... even knocking himself out cold one time!)
  • SWEETS!!! (just because... I don't need a reason for sweets)

 And given that it had started to rain just as we were about to leave the black market the lino doubles as a handy group umbrella!

...we didn't get random looks from the locals, so siree

We'd asked Annie and Tempka (the Mongolian Scouts who acted as our guides for our time in Mongolia) where we could get some souveniers, something traditional, so an extra shop at the imaginatively named 'Souvenier Shop' was squeezed in. And I really do mean that it was squeezed in, we pretty much had to run from it to our next stop, the theatre!

I got this traditional horse brush

Us Networkers can actually be cultured at times.... honest.

We were there to see a performance by a Mongolian orchestra. It was quite stunning actually, all the musical instruments were traditional Mongolian (including the flute and the horse head fiddle I tried on our day on site) and it also featured throat singing. I doubt that I would ever be able to sing like that (and given that your throat can bleed if you do it wrong I'm not exactly lining up to learn if I am honest).

ok, the horse head fiddle is funky... but check out the really cool Mongolian Clarinet in the background!



They also featured some dancers and gymnastics to give the musicians a bit of a break.

All very bright and colourful and impressive... educational as well given that they had a LED display at the side translating and explaining stuff in english (how thoughtful)

Given this rather busy day, we were starting to get hungry again so were taken to a small local restaurant for our dinner where we were taught the Mongolian method of drinking vodka (ie. vodka and mixer in seperate glasses, neck the vodka and then the mixer)

From there... well, let's just say that a drunken return trip to the campsite is even more fun when the music is pumped up, you are literally bounced off your seats at the back of the minibus and its after midnight when you return.

Thanks for those I borrowed pictures from, pictures of the show are from http://www.astronomicaltours.net/