Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mongolia I

I must let you all know something before I begin this post. Because of the nature of the large group that I am traveling in, I have to be wary about how I blog. Our director has asked us to not post about a specific location until we have moved on to a different place. For this reason, I am going to talk about Mongolia in general instead of the specific area where I am staying.

Mongolia is a fascinating country of contrasts. The capital city is Ulan Bataar (UB) and it is the only major city in the whole country. The previous Russian influence has resulted in architecture and city planning that one could find in Eastern Europe. Buildings have relatively plain facades and nondescript signs speckle the exterior of businesses. However the city is bustling! Mongolia has a population of about 2.7 million and more than half live in this one city. UB is an overcrowded city that fits in with any other city in Asia.

Because there is only one major city in the nation, UB's population is diverse. Most everyone has a cell phone stuck to their ear, most people sport trendy clothes and would not look out of place in a hip, American city. Cars are ubiquitous and rush hour here could rival that of LA. (However, there is hope - I have seen two Priuses since I've been here!) Because UB is the only major city in the country, some people from the country side come here to try and better their life. There are over 10,000 children living in the sewer system in UB and beggars are hard to avoid. Pick-pocketing and theft is a serious danger here so we are all taking extra measures to be safe.

For me this means sacrificing taking a lot of pictures around the city. When I cart around my huge Nikon, I feel more conspicuous so I've decided to limit how much I bring my camera around. Hopefully before the week is over I'll have some pictures up!

We have started our Paleontology and Developmental Biology class. We meet in a monastery across town and endure four hours of class on the most uncomfortable benches my butt has ever known. However, we do go on field trips often which helps to spice up monotonous geology lecture.

I'll post again later this week so until then hope everyone is well!


Caitlin t said...

Hi Rach!Just wanted to drop you a line and see how the start of your adventure is! Everything is looking swell, Keep it up! I am also glad to hear you made it safe.

Travel well, enjoy yourself, be peacful...

Miss you!

Cattel (Kaitlin S) said...

Hi!! I'm so glad to hear that your trip is going so well. Korea sounded crazy and I can't believe that you are in Mongolia right now! Good to know that the monastery keeps everyone focused in prayer with their awful benches! Miss you and keep up the blog! So great to read. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel, Can't wait to see some photos when you have a chance to pull out your camera. I never thought of Mongolia as an urban oasis. Who knew. Take care, Love, Mom

Celia said...

Put simply... How cool! I've always wanted to visit somewhere outside the US (Caribbean and Canada definitely don't count) and I'm excited I get to experience this a little through your stories. Thanks for sharing! By the way I miss you a lot :)

Alexa said...

Hi friend! I'm loving your blog action so far, and can't wait to see pictures. Mongolia sounds far different than I expected... that's really cool! I'd love to hear things you're learning about in the paleo class (even though it sounds like you're underwhelmed).
Well, just wanted to let you know that I'm missing you, and thinking about you all the time! Love, Alexa

Kevin said...

Hey Rachel... sounds like you're having a GREAT time over there! My mom and I just wanted to say hi and good luck on all of your travels!! Be safe and enjoy yourself. We love ya and can't wait to hear more about your experiences!


Kevin, Mike and Aunt Karen