Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day 17 - History

The sleepytimes between Friday and Saturday did not have much rest for us. There is generally more noise in the building on weekends with parties and so forth but last night was extreme. There was even more noise than usual from above (where most of our noise comes from... it also echoes down a pipe that runs through our bedroom) and then at 1am there were some huge thumping sounds from right outside our door. For a second we thought someone was trying to get in but no... someone was screaming and trying to break down our neighbour's door.

It went on for a long time and was quite scary in that we had no idea what to do if the drunken fury turned to our door. You can't exactly call the police if you don't speak their language, and the word from a few people we've spoken to is that the authorities are not really interested in violence against foreigners. Anyway eventually the person gave up but the other parties continued well into the early hours of the morning.

When we got up this morning and had a look outside we saw that the person had broken right through the first door and most of the way through the second (lots of Mongolians have two doors... not us though!). So now our neighbours are bolting shut the outer door that blocks the entrance to our door and theirs... which means if we go out they bolt it behind us and we have to knock and hope they hear us to get to our own home.

Anyway, a late start due to weariness from all the above... but after three days there was finally some hot water! That cheered us up a bit. After our daily bowls of porridge (new brand!) we headed off to walk to the National History Mueseum. It was a good walk, which the footpaths mostly clear of both ice and slush.

Now, in supermarkets in Ulaanbaatar you have to put your backpack or any other bags into some free lockers. You would assume that the contents of the museum are more valuable than tubs of yoghurt... but no lockers! So we had to wear our heavy jackets and carry the bag. Also, if you would like to touch the stone monument from 3000BC... go right ahead! Want to wander around playing music on your phone so everyone can listen to it? No worries! It was the opposite to everything that happens in western museums.

That said, the museum was well laid-out in chronological order. We got to see some very very very old things (apparently the lack of humidity means that ancient stuff lasts well), examples of national costume (Mongolian women have tradionally done some very elaborate stuff with their hair, looks like the inspiration for Amidala's hair in Star Wars), information about all the tribes pre-Chinggis (not a lot of information about the revered man himself strangely enough) and then lots of pieces of paper from the Communist take over and then the democratic hand-over in 1990.

Full of knowledge we left the museum to look for some lunch... and found that a light powder snow was falling everywhere! It was very soft and pretty. We then went to a well-reviewed Mongolian restaurant to fulfil Rachel's desire to try the staples of Mongolian cuisine: mutton dumplings and deep-fried mutton dumplings. The place was nice but we've had enough meat to last us a long time.

When we left the restaurant the snow was heavier and sat on our clothes a lot as we walked. We stopped in at a cashmere store but it was very posh and well outside our price range! Some grocery shopping and then home!

The snow makes us happy as it is very pretty when the world is white. Also it seems to be warming when snowing.

So time for another random movie on HBO and hopefully some better sleeps...

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