11am, Day 1 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
It’s my very first day in Mongolia, and Dasha (Dolgormaa’s brother) picks me up for a trip into UB’s city center, which is great! I’ve been awake since 4 a.m. and am bored waiting around the apartment. I’d rather be out exploring.
Once we’re on the road, which is 3 lanes in each direction, he asks if I want lunch. Of course!!!! I show him the dumplings page in my phrasebook—fried dumplings, boiled dumplings, dumpling soup…. Does this remind you of a movie? Hint: shrimp.
Dasha’s English is better than my German, but still not great. He understands about 50% of what I say, and I understand about 50% of what he communicates. He knows some Arabic, which I gather he’s more comfortable with than English. Luckily for Dasha, he knows 2 languages in which he can talk behind my back, and I will never know the difference.
I confirm that he does not speak German, Spanish, Danish, Haitian Creole, or Swahili. Alright, we have these languages in common: English and gestures with a smile.
First Day of Sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar
Lunch = awesome + fun. It’s hot outside as we walk past The Beatles monument on our way to the restaurant. Did you know about Mongolia’s Fab 4 monument? I certainly didn’t!
The restaurant, constructed of concrete block, holds in the heat despite being painted white both inside and out. Dasha and I are sweating even before our meals arrive.
I’m excited to try more Mongolian food, and we chat as we wait. My plate arrives filled with steaming, boiled dumplings along with sides of potato salad and veggies marinated in vinegar.
Over lunch I explain how back in Dolgormaa’s bedroom my scarf, long underwear, gloves and wool hat were ready to go with me into the Mongolian countryside for our days-long drive. However, I forgot my jacket back home in California. I probably own 10 or 20 jackets.
My excuse? It was a flawless, sunny, and warm morning when I left home after 5 short hours of sleep, so I walked out my front door wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
Next Chapter: Jacket Shopping in Ulaanbaatar. Don’t ask. I don’t know how I forgot to bring a jacket. And, shopping is not my strong suit.
Previous Chapter: German Food in Mongolia. Don’t ask, I can’t explain.
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