Mongolia + Work + Moving Stress = Sick Girl

Genghis Kahn himself.

Genghis Kahn himself.

At least this time I have a really good excuse for not blogging more frequently: I’ve been down with a nasty cold for the past three weeks, and in that time travelled to Cambodia and Mongolia, written 2 proposals, worked all but a couple of days, and got my cats shipped from Puerto Rico to Thailand — for *only* about $3,500!  Pshew!

So, Mongolia was cold.  It was rather nice during the day, up in the 40s, but freezing overnight; it actually snowed one night.  First snow I’ve seen in three years, aksh. Ulaanbaatar was strangely open and barren-seeming, after the crowded cities of Kuala Lumpur, Ha Noi and Phnom Penh.  The people were very round, not very cheerful (but quite nice) and very direct compared to SE Asia – they say that it’s the Russian influence.  It was actually refreshing: ask a question, get an answer.   My hotel was right in the heart of town, on Sukhbaatar square off the Parliament building, but that’s about all I saw because of the aforementioned working constantly.  I didn’t get the chance to try much Mongolian food, because the Mongolian restaurants didn’t have English menus, or even picture menus, but the one thing I did try was “Mongolian soup,” which was a plain, slightly vinegary beef broth with lots of beef.  That’s it.  Not appetizing. And I’m assuming it was beef.  And the western food: similarly underwhelming.  It was a good visit nonetheless, largely because it’s a fantastic County Office and I was able to get my work done — 3 external interviews, 7 internal interviews, a day-long communications workshop and report, and a full proposal — done in four days, and was very, very satisfied to go home without a shit ton of work to do.  And, despite all predictions to the contrary, Air China didn’t leave me stranded in Beijing for an extra day.

The kittehs arrived on Monday, quite heat-stressed after sitting on the tarmac in 100-degree heat for hours.  Sigh.  But I got them cooled down by soaking them down in the shower, putting wet towels in the freezer then wrapping them around the cats.  At one point I had a bottle of gin from the freezer wrapped up with Pooks; he looked like a little, wet, homeless alcoholic kitty.

I’d forgotten how noisy Pika is; she talks ALL THE TIME.  DAMN, cat, srsly. Take it down a notch!

And they’re so dirty!  Ten minutes and my cream tile floors were covered in cat hair and grubby little paw prints.  Today I finally made it to the local C-Mart to buy a vacuum: the sweetest, tiniest little lavender flower-colored diddums of a thing.  Just perfect for my tiny apartment.  My tiny apartment that gets smaller by the second, what with the addition of two cats.  I was sure it would seem big after the boat, which it did for about five seconds; we’ll see how it goes when Philip comes!   (MAY 30!!! We has ticket!!!!) I think I’d rather stay here than try to find another, larger place that takes cats (NOT easy in BKK) and have to move said cats, just for 9 months… I might be eating those words in a few months, but there’s always hope. Anyway, I’m hardly in the apartment, what with the crazy travel and work.

One piece of good news is that my mission to Burma was delayed for two weeks, which gives me a good chunk of time — 3 whole weeks — between missions, then another 3 weeks afterwards before travel.  Of course, then it’s back-to-back missions to the Philippines and Indonesia in July; should be interesting.  I’ll try not to catch a cold on each one this time around.

Everyday BKK: Cabs

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Cabs in BKK are almost always decorated with Buddhist icons and flower wreaths, but this hot pink, knitted dashboard cover was a new one. Made me giggle. Which, of course, the cabbie totally didn’t understand, as the lack of English language skills in BKK cabs in legendary. Kinda makes me sad, as chatting with cabbies is one of my favorite things on earth.

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Ok, right to left: No smoking, no durian (I think; it’s a super-stinky fruit), no booze, no dogs, no sex, no weapons, and no . . . ?????. If anyone has any clue, do let me know.

Everyday BKK: Lena’s First Rootbeer Float

P1040091LET me precede this post with the fact that Pip absolutely despises root beer.  He’s a Brit, you see, and the taste of root beer, which was originally flavored with the root sasafrass, is something those wacky Brits put in their toothpaste.  Why? Don’t ask me.  But imagine drinking toothpaste soda, and you get the idea.

So the other night, my colleague Lena (who’s from Poland) and I were at an “American” burger joint before a colleague’s concert, and she pointed at the menu and asked what a rootbeer float was.  I explained to her that it’s rootbeer, which is soda, not beer, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I said I love it, but you never know.

So, brave Lena ordered a root beer float. THIS was the result:

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However, turns out she really liked it in the end.  Yay!