Monday, March 30, 2015

Always an Adventure in Mongolia

An evening out in Mongolia


            No sadly it’s not what you are thinking.  (Sorry mom still single)  This is just what happens when an American (me) and an Australian (Kelvin) go out to eat because I have no food in my apartment.  It all started out innocently enough as we trudged through the melting snow to the Zaisan Gate Hotel and for once I was the one taking Kelvin to a new Mongolian eatery.

Hey I think the Pollution is lightening up I can actually see the mountains on the other side of the city.


Yup the land of the big blue sky is back baby.


            This was the weather just a few hours earlier and before I show you there is a little something to go with it.  Today was supposed to be the day of the big all school hike up into the hills shown above, only it was raining and sleeting as I trudged to work.  The hike was canceled and I went to talk to the AD about the weather conditions and cross country running outside as it was supposed to stop raining soon.

            “As long as the rain stops, and there is no snow or ice on the ground we should be ok to go outside.”

15 minutes later


By Lunch time


            So yeah I just had to say it didn't I.

            The cows are back in town


            And I think that it might be our dinner as it is standing right next to the restaurant.  Yes the Mongolians looked at us funny for taking pictures of cows.

            Well what do you know, it actually was our dinner.  Yum, filet, mushrooms, and mashed potatoes.

            That was Kelvin’s since I already tore into mine.  Hey I was hungry and it was as good as it looks.  Sadly it was a little on the small side, but hey there is desert right.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the cake I had last time so I had to settle for ice cream.

            Kelvin- Are you really going to eat that?
            Me- It’s just ice cream
            Kelvin- It will kill you
            Me- I only have it once and a while, and what about you Mr. fast food
            Kelvin- I only have it once a month

Shopping with Kelvin

            Kelvin- you look really at home in there
            Me- Hu it’s just the cereal isle and it’s so much more than just a breakfast food
            Kelvin- ………….

Next

            Me- Ugh green peppers
            Kelvin- You realize that the green ones turn orange if you let it sit out on the counter long enough
            Me- how is it that the business teacher knows that, but the biology teacher doesn't
            Kelvin-………
            (By this point I think the other shoppers think we’re nuts)

And finally

            Kelvin- how can you eat that?
            Me- What they’re vegetables
            Kelvin- They’re in a can
            Me- What it’s just a can
            Kelvin- ……….

Walking home

            Kelvin- watch out its getting icy
            Me- I’ll be fine it’s……… dang it Kelvin
            Always an adventure in Mongolia even if the locals think we’re nuts

Anime Nerd Rage

            If you've been following along back in January I posted about how I was not holding out high hopes for the newest installment in the Nanoha franchise and sadly I was right.  The latest teaser trailer is awful.  Here see it for yourself.



            The most striking problem to me is the character designs, all of the faces look like they took a few good whacks from a frying pan, and it just looks weird.  Secondly the backgrounds are to mundane, nothing like the high tech futuristic cityscapes that were shown in Strikers.  Lastly I think too much time will be spent on the cutesy angle.  I could go on, but I will control myself this time as I did get see alien ship monsters get punched in the face during the recent Kancolle finale.  That show had its own issues, but at least I got my big fights and explosions.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mongolians and Diets

A Mongolians view of popular diets


            So there I am teaching, the digestive system, which in the book I am currently using starts with a basic overview of metabolism or why we need to feed the beast.  (Yes I actually called my lesson that)  It then includes a small section on nutrition before entering the guts of the matter (hehe, guts get it, hehe).  The perfect real world application for nutrition then are the various diets people eat.  I began with the Atkins diet, which we all know is high in meat, and fat with almost no carbohydrates.  My student’s response.

            “Mr. Meharg, aren't you just talking about the traditional Mongolian diet.”

            “Um, not exactly, but your reference kinda sorta works.”

            I then explained essential and non-essential amino acids.  For those of us who are not science geeks, the proteins in the human body use 20 different amino acids.  The human body can give enough energy and starch make 11 (non-essential) of those 20 amino acids.  The remaining 9 (essential) cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from the person’s diet.  We are in luck because animal protein, regardless of the source contains enough of those 9 amino acids to meet our needs.  Vegetable proteins do not contain enough of those amino acids in fact some plants do not contain one or more of the essential amino acids.  This is why vegetarians and to a greater extent vegans must eat a wider variety of foods than us lowly meatarians, for proper nutrition.

            “Does anyone know any vegetarians?”

            “What’s a vegetarian?”

            “I've heard the word before?”

            “Alright, I guess it’s not surprising, given the Mongolian culture.  A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat?”

            “Hahahaha, good one Mr. Meharg.”

            “Yeah, you’re just messing with us.”

            “Nope, it’s a real thing there are people who for health or personal reasons choose not to eat meat.”

            “How do they live like that?”

            “How are they not dead?”

            Cue my explanation about the vegetarian diet and all of its permutations, which led me to Vegans.

            “Now you really are messing with us.  That can’t be humanly possible.”


            Cue my explanation on how the vegan diet is actually possible and how it works despite my students statements to the contrary.  Sorry PETA but I just don’t see you taking off in Mongolia anytime soon, because in Mongolia PETA means.  People Eat Tasty Animals.  Now don’t worry Mongolians treat their animals very, very well, because they rely on them to survive, and they know they will eat it sooner or later and are very cognizant of what their food is and what it becomes.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hiking, Ramen, and Resolutions

Hiking, Ramen, and Resolutions

            Sadly I have nothing super exciting to report.  I went hiking over the weekend and hit up a Ramen place with Kelvin.

Hiking

            The hike was a nice 2 hour jaunt up into the hills behind the school, basically get to the top and go left until you hit the sign that is posted in Mongolian and English (thank god) that moving beyond is prohibited.  Kelvin figured it was a good site to look down on the Presidents place.  I couldn't say, I was just glad I could actually read the sign for once.

The view at the bottom (I think the pollution is getting better)


The climb (that’s Jason in the Orange and I’m the dummy in the lead)


The view at the top


The animals



Oh and the presidents house


The Ramen shop

            Saying it was over the river and through the woods would be appropriate as it was quite the bus ride and hike to get there.

            Me- so is this place any good
            Kelvin- don’t know, I haven’t been their yet, I only walked by it
            Me- well now I know why you brought me along.  I can taste it and tell you if its any good
            Kelvin- the pictures on Facebook looked good, so I think its legit
            Me- lovely

            Now none of these were mine, but my food was really good, and I’m not a big ramen fan.  It was worth the trip and I would go back anytime




New Years Resolution Update 

            I do have some good news to report and I am moving forward on my new year’s resolutions a bit.  In case you don’t remember here they are.

1- Continue to travel.  I’m looking at getting to South Korea or Taiwan over Spring Break, China and potentially Taiwan if I don’t do it over Spring Break during the summer, The Mongolian Eagle festival which might be over fall break (It was this year), and either Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, or Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei over winter break.  There might also be a Mongolian trekking tour in there somewhere to.
2- Finish writing Gunslinger Girl World Tour and start the final part of the trilogy
3- Finish watching all of the anime stored on my hard drive (I bet some of you thought I did that already)
4- Keep up with both of my blogs and post about my trips to Thailand and Japan
5- Figure out how to use and implement Google classroom
6- Take some Mongolian language lessons
7- Look into getting a Masters in Biology

Resolution 1

            I am on tract with resolution number one as I now have plane tickets and a hotel for Seoul during my spring break 2.5 weeks away.  I know it is a bit last minute, but at least I have them right.  Now I have to organize everything I will be doing while I am there.  You know there is a tour to a North Korean Village, but I think that is just asking for trouble.  Oh look it’s the big ass white guy he must be American.  I am still on for China this summer, but it’s not looking good for Taiwan.  I have a good reason though……. And that reason is…….. Please put your drinks down….. I am going mountain climbing here in Mongolia.  Yes you heard it right I am going mountain climbing.

            The mountain in question is Mt. Khuiten on the western border of Mongolia.  This quest would not be possible without the extremely gracious invite from my neighbor and buddy Mark.  I will be hiking up to over 13,000ft (4,000m), across glaciers and plenty of other fun.  So I’ll be spending some cash on an ice ax and other equipment, as I've never been mountain climbing before.  That’s right you heard me I've never been mountain climbing before, but it’s OK since all I have to do is hike up it.
Mt. Khuiten

Location

Resolution 2

            Gunslinger girl World Tour is still in the works and I am close to getting another two chapters done if I could just find the time to write it.  I am bouncing around the idea of turning it into an EBook this summer.

Resolution 3

Warning anime dork moment

            I still haven’t watched all of the anime on my hard drive yet, but I am making good progress.  I have finished watching all 95 episodes of Rurouni Kenshin, 2 OVA’s and 1 movie.  This was a series that played on the old Toonami block back in the late 90s while I was in college, and it has held up well over the years.  The show is a Samurai drama set 11 years after the end of the Meji revolution in 1878.  The story follows one Himura Kenshin the former assassin of the Imperialists (the winners), as he travels Japan protecting the weak, with his Sakabatō (a katana with the blade on the wrong side).   He has sworn never to kill again in atonement for all of the lives he destroyed during the revolution.  His travels take him to Tokyo, where he meets Kamiya Kaoru, the master of a local Kendo dojo (sword fighting).
Normal Kenshin

Someone is about learn the error of their ways Kenshin

Kaoru Kamiya (AKA the love interest)

            Season one focuses on introducing a number of different characters as Kenshin faces enemies from the past and present.  The show has the right mix of serious and humorous moments, as the cast ends up in a variety of situations.  One bit that rarely gets old is how people constantly underestimate Kenshin before he opens up a can of wup ass on the unsuspecting opponent.  Another bit I enjoy is how Kenshin knows many high ranking government officials, because he has worked with them in the past.

            Season two is where the show really grows the beard, as the light hearted moments are dropped, as Kenshin must face his successor as the best assassin Japan, as he tries to take over Japan.  The second season is longer, but it never drags, and the fights are as varied as they are interesting.  This is also when the show starts to get a little bit more unrealistic with some of the elements of the show, but the plot and characters easily push through these spots.  Some of these elements have become part and parcel to many latter shounen (targeted at HS kids) shows.  It actually becomes amusing watching younger fans call the show cliched when it was Rurouni Kenshin that created and popularized these clichés in the first place.

            Season three is the weakest part of the show, and consists of several minor story arcs, some of which are quite unrealistic.  This can be a little jarring given how realistic the earlier seasons were.  I didn't mind though as they were still pretty cool.  It was worth in the end watching all of the hanging plot threads were resolved in a very satisfying manner.

            The sequel movie was OK, but I felt it rehashed elements from the second season a bit too much and the voice actors were different than the TV show.  I didn't like the some of the new English voice actors.  I found the two OVA prequels to be too dark for my tastes.  They are excellent pieces of cinematic animation, and explores the dark past of the Kenshin from the TV series.  I just prefer the more light hearted and positive tone of the TV series.

            The animation is high quality and holds up well even after 19 years.  In some ways I like the older style over some of the newer animations that use a large amount of CGI animation.  The action scenes are fluid, and while there is still the ever present flash of light for the big moves, the normal stuff is on full display.  The physical character designs are varied attractive to look at.  I mean who wouldn't want Megumi Takani as their doctor.



            The music is a pleasure to listen to and fits the tone of the series from beginning to end.  The opening and ending themes are excellent, with the third opening being my favorite.

            Overall I give the show a 5 out of 5, and recommend it to any sword fighting fan, or anyone who might be interesting in checking out what anime has to offer.  It has also been so popular in Japan that it spawned three live action movies over ten years after the initial release.  My only warning is that this show is for high school kids and above due to some mature plot elements in the second season.

Anime dork moment over

Resolution 4

            I think I've been pretty good about updating the blog, and I would like to get into a regular schedule.  Ideally I would like to do two updates a week for a while, if I can.

Resolution 5

            Google classroom still eludes me, but that is more of a summer project.  I am using turnitin.com, which is a service that compares the students work against internet sources and previously submitted sources.  The teacher and student is then given a similarity report, which lets them know how much of the report is similar to other sources.  I happen to like this as it helps to reduce and eliminate plagiarism.  Since the reports are submitted electronically I can grade them over the computer, which has the side effect of me writing longer comments about the student work.  So you see everybody wins.

Resolution 6

            Mongolian lessons still elude me, but I do have a number to call.  I just need to get off my lazy but and call her.

Resolution 7

            I have two masters programs picked out, the University of Nebraska at Kearny, or Western Kentucky University.  Both of the programs are online masters of biology, I just need to pick which one to do, and find the time to do it around all of the traveling, blogging, writing, and anime watching I want to do.

FYI


            In other news I was finally able to get my laptop fixed, after it stopped charging properly. The laptop would still charge but it would not always connect, oh and the battery life was unaffected lasting just as long as before.  While it only started recently it goes all the way back to when it fell off my desk during back to school night, and I busted the original charger and one of the USB ports.  I still have three USB ports and I can always buy a USB hub if I need one, so that wasn't a big deal.  The little nub that plugs into the computer bought the far though so I've been using an old ACER, and then HP laptop charger the school had lying around.  Well over the last month I've had more trouble charging it, and bought a replacement charger thinking that was the problem.  Well my Chinese piece of crap replacement charger was even worse, and had a harder time connecting to the computer.  Well long story short, Frank and his wife took me to computer land to get my computer fixed.  90 minutes, one replacement part (the socket where the charger plugs in), a little solder, 25,000 turgiks later (13USD) and my computer was as good as new.

Friday, March 20, 2015

March in Mongolia

March in Mongolia

In like a lion,           


Out like a rabid Tasmanian devil


            Snow, lots of snow….. well lots of snow for Mongolia anyway.  Last weekend the city had four inches of snow dumped on it.  Nothing compared to what the Eastern US got this year, but for Mongolia that’s a good bit.  Also, heavy snow in Mongolia means that spring is coming.


Warning science content

            Humidity- the amount of water vapor carried in the atmosphere.  This can be measured as absolute humidity, and relative humidity.

            Absolute humidity- mass of the water vapor in a given volume of air.  Yes it is basically the density equation.

            Relative humidity- the amount of water vapor the air is holding, relative to the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold at a given time.  This is typically given as a percentage.

            Temperature also has an effect on humidity, and this is where it gets a little weird.  As the temperature increases the absolute humidity increases as warmer air can hold more water, but the relative humidity actually decreases.  This is due to changes in the vaporization and saturation temperatures, but they’re not important for today’s lesson.  The point is, that warmer air yes 25-35 degrees Fahrenheit is still chilly, but it is significantly warmer than negative freeze your but off.  So now that the air is holding more water, Ulaanbaatar gets more snow.  Thus snow equals warmer air, which means spring is on the way.

Science content over


            As you can imagine, snow + people living in a dorm + Friday night = massive snowball fight.  Sadly this began after I had fallen asleep so I missed what might have been one of the most awesome events in Mongolia ever.



Mongolian Road Clearing

            Yes, even Mongolia has an effective method of dealing with snowy roads.




            You guessed it, Mongolia’s version of dealing with snow is to not deal with the snow.  I don’t think there is a single snowplow in the entire country.  These are people who go driving in the countryside throughout the entire year so I doubt a few inches of snow is much of a problem for them.  No salt or gravel either what is see is just the effect of the cars driving across the roads, the buses even ran on time.  Well as on time as buses in UB normally run.

            The upside to this was all of the fresh powder on the slopes of Sky Resort, as we ventured out for the final ski trip of the season.  I had better numbers to, six students and two teachers including me.  I would say that skiing on fresh powder would make for awesome skiing, but there was one little problem with that.  The slopes weren't groomed so it alternated between piles of powder, and skiing on ice.  When the amount of fresh powder was just right the skiing was pretty sweet, but that was only on a couple of spots on two of the runs.  One of the runs was a giant sheet of ice, and even I was a little wary going down it.  My students on the other hand, well they took off down the slope like…… well hyperactive spider monkeys on coffee and red bull. Faster, faster faster……

            Now I know my mother is off reading this somewhere laughing her but off right now, about the pot calling the kettle black or something doesn't help either.  Either way a good time was had by all.  Since we normally ski on Wednesday evenings the cafeteria is closed or barely has any food left, this time however it was a hopping place, and once again I learned how Mongolians stand in lines.  Oh wait they don’t, well that is not to say they don’t line up for things it’s just that the line turns into a mob, and jumping in line is not uncommon.  So there I was starving… yes it was like that time in Paris…. Until a nice Mongolian woman drug me to the front of the line asking me what I wanted.  Two burgers, and a coke later, how they didn't have fries I’ll never know, and I was on my way.  Not the best burgers I ever had (curse you mayonnaise), but after a morning of skiing with the kiddies they hit the spot.  I guess being the big American who never blends in comes in handy once and a while.

            I had a few errands to run, so I stayed in the city after the bus dropped us back off at the library.  By this point most of the snow was melting and it was the puddles you had to look out for.  I did manage to find a replacement charger for my laptop, sadly the Chinese made piece of garbage doesn't really work.

Cool view from the city



            Cross the street is still a risk at times as the Mongolians will either stop, and let you go or just go around you potentially running you over.  The city does stay quiet as they don’t seem to be too big on the, honk honk out of the way you ##@$##%#$%.

Warning Mongolian Culture content




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thailand- Phuket to Bangkok

            For this week’s blog post I will be returning to Thailand and continue to offer you more pictures and insight into a lovely South East Asian Country.

Phueket to Bangkok


            Since Phuket city is located on the southern tip of the Island and the Airport is in the north I decided to take advantage of the fact that I had to get a taxi to explore a few more spots before I flew on to Bangkok.  Phuket city has a forested outlook that offers an excellent view of the city, and while on most other days I would have walked to the top, I didn't think the people sitting next to me on the plane would enjoy me smelling like stale rancid mare’s milk.  The view was certainly worth the trip as I got to be up close and personal with tropical trees and monkeys.  The trees were great and the monkeys thankfully stayed away otherwise I would have ended up doing something rather rash.

Blinged out Spirit house



Tropical Tree- I thought all of the vines wrapped around it made it look cool

Monkeys- I know the picture stinks but I wasn't getting any closer

The view



            On the way back down from the overlook I stopped at a Buddhist temple sticking out of the trees, and it did not disappoint.  The amount of gold, jewels and bling was stunning, and it was quite the sight to see, for being a smaller temple.  It even had hints of what one could call Mayan or Aztec architecture, with dragons running down the sides of the staircase.

Thailand


Mayan/ Aztec



            As you can see from the Dragon this temple is quite colorful and it continued with the statues found all around the main temple area at the top of the stairs.  Frankly many of the statues gave off a distinctly Indian (sub-continent Indian) vibe.  FYI- I’ve never been to India before so I could be completely wrong.

Statues





            Now you might be thinking wow they put a lot of gold paint, and or gilded material on those statues.  Well as it turns out, it’s really not all that much, here is the rest of the temple.


Yes, the stairs are as steep as they look.

They didn't scrimp on the detail work either.


Inside the temple- sorry the picture stinks


            Now it is time for my flight on Bangkok airways, and for only 90 dollars US, it was quite comfortable.  I was expecting to be crushed in the seat, but it was more leg room than most American carriers provide and I am bigger than your average Thai.  No meal, but after a nice lunch at an Airport restaurant, (Burger and fries, shut up don’t judge me you hippies, do you know how hard it is to get a good burger without mayo, and fries in Mongolia) I didn't really need one.  During the flight itself I had a nice time talking to an Australian mine safety inspector, who was quite harsh on the Chilean mines.  He was tasked with getting mine deaths below twenty a month.  Given their track record in the news it was probably warranted.

            The Bangkok Airport is huge, well maintained, and has lots of shopping, which seems to be a thing in Asian airports.  Sadly the Airport is quite far from my hotel, and I didn't call ahead for the hotel to pick me up.  Now I had two main options take the train into the city, and then take a taxi because it doesn't run to the area my hotel is in, or just take a taxi.  I went with just getting a taxi from the airport, and it was surprisingly well organized even if you had to wait for a bit.  Everyone lines up while several airport staffers call up taxis to take each person or group to their destination.  While it might take a bit longer, the frustration level, is much lower, and you don’t have to do any shoving or worry about being hit by a taxi.  As I was waiting in line I ran into a couple of teachers on their vacation.  I’ll give you three guesses as to what country they are from…………..

            Yup, you guessed it Germany, thus proving that yes Germans are everywhere.  A rather nice taxi ride across town and I arrived at the Royal Princess Hotel, Bangkok.  My room was not great, but it was a big step up from the mess of a room I had in Phuket.  My non-smoking room smelled like smoke, but there was no mold or other unidentified organisms growing in the bathroom.  The bed was nice and comfortable and the room was quite large easily twice the size of the room in Phuket.  I did have Wi-Fi this time but only for an hour each day unless I wanted to pay extra.  Now on the upside the hotel did have a pool, and a small workout room, but no hot tub something I was really looking forward to.  The workout room was nice except when some parents let their little devils… sorry I mean darlings in there unsupervised.  I almost dropped a weight on them by accident.  I end up going to hotel management after they started messing around on a treadmill and all I could see happening was one of them being flung off into the mirror right behind it.  I figured protecting a couple of kiddies was good karma or something.

            So now for the most important part of the hotel, the restaurant.  While the food was perhaps a little pricy for Bangkok, when compared to street food, (which is quite good in Thailand).  I was simply too lazy to search it out, and quite happy with the prices at the hotel around 15 USD for an appetizer, main course, desert and drink.  The food was a mix of Thai, Asian, and western food (with a Thai flare), so while it wasn't 100% authentic Thai food I wasn't complaining.  After being in Mongolia for a couple of months at this point I was looking for some western food.  Ah hamburgers, Salmon, and many other goodies.  The breakfast buffet was good to offering cereal, omelets, and pancakes, among other things.



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Slow Times in Mongolia

Slow times in Mongolia

            Sorry guys but I have no big, dramatic, exciting things for you this week.  It’s just another week in Mongolia.  I would have said cold, but it is warming up a bit, I don’t have to wear warmup pants and a sweatshirt to use the gym anymore.  The ski club did venture back to the Sky Resort, but it was not as exciting this time.

Teaching


            It’s more of the same for the most part, as I am in the middle of the long haul.  When teachers refer to the long haul, we are typically (In the USA) talking about the time from Presidents day weekend to Spring Break.  This is normally 6 weeks or so of no breaks, when the kids start to get a little stir crazy from being stuck indoors for so long.  It’s not so bad here in Mongolia even with the double periods.  This is probably helped by the fact that my HS students switched classes in January, so while we are 25 weeks into the school year its only 6 weeks in for my Science 9 and Biology 11 classes.  I've also had my Science 6 kids working on Power Plant presentations that they finally gave this week, and while they weren't bad.  They were not as good as I had hoped.

            The fault lies on both parties here.  Clearly some of the groups did not do enough work, or listen to the instructions.  I also should have been clearer on some parts and should have given more guidance than I did.  I think I was also setting the bar a little too high for some of them.  Mistake one was making the project to open ended, now this works great with older kids, but it can backfire with younger grades.  The reason for this is a lack of knowledge and experience.  The second mistake was not providing more guidance on how to actually make and give a presentation.  I saw far too much reading from the slides, and big blocks of text.  In the future I will model, and then guide them through how to give proper presentations.

            On the other hand my 9th, and 11th grade classes are moving along well.  The Science 9 kids got a number of labs in the first half of the chemistry unit, and while I would like to do more, there really aren't anymore I can do given the specific areas I have to cover, and the materials I have on hand here in Mongolia.  I've got a bunch lined up for the next week or so as we head into the shocking subject of electricity which I have far more personal experience with than I would like.  Their only issue is the bane of teachers everywhere, getting the students to turn in their homework, not to mention show up to class on time.

            The 11th graders are great I just wish I had more labs for them.  They are currently covering the human body, (Cardiorespiratory and Digestive systems) and there just aren't that many labs I can do on those subjects.  I found balloons too late to do an intro activity on respiration at the start of the unit, and I couldn't find any lungs to dissect for them either.  I did teach them how to do a proper lung exam though as the school does have stethoscopes.  It’s been pretty much the same for the cardiovascular system.  I was unable to find any cow hearts to dissect, because apparently the Mongolians ate them all over Tsagaan Sar, and my computer wouldn't run the one virtual dissection I found online.  Thus we had to settle for a video instead.  Whether this is a positive or negative outcome I’ll leave to you to decide.  I was able to make use of the stethoscopes again, teaching the kiddies how to do a complete heart exam.  Next week I’ll be teaching them how to read ECG’s not the most exciting thing, but still pretty interesting.

            FYI- while there were no heart and lungs to be found, apparently the Mongolians ate them all over the Tsagaan Sar holiday.  I could purchase the entire digestive system of a ruminant animal if I wanted to.

Skiing


            The ASU ski club took their second trip to the Sky resort.  Now given the success of the first trip I was expecting the same or larger turnout.  I figured that the students would turn out in droves to see their teacher (me) crash and fall on his but again.  And turnout the students did, it was glorious, all one of them.  Yes, a single student turned out for the trip, now we still managed five people, one student, three teachers, and one teacher’s husband.  So just in case you are wondering I did not fall this time.

Camel


View from the slopes




Food

            Perhaps it was due to a confluence of the stars, or dumb luck, but the gym was locked, and instead of returned to cook my own dinner, I ended up instead invited out to dinner with my excellent neighbors.  I was more than happy to venture out into the hip and exciting nightlife of Zaisan.  Our first destination (Teraza, probably spelled wrong) was completely booked due to International Women’s day.  On the way to our backup location (London Grill) we spotted the Zaisan Gate Hotel, and decided to try it.

            Oh it was completely worth it.  The restaurant is a mix of jazz bar, and hippie coffee shop.  Dark stained wood, green couches, with orange, green, and red, for the table settings.  The service was good, but it does take a little getting used to the differences in restaurant service in pretty much the rest of the world compared to the States.  Here in Mongolia, the server leaves you to your own devices unless called over for something.  This is can be seen as a welcome change depending on your tastes, as in the states as the server can seem to be all over you at times.  Now we were all pretty hungry by the time we arrived and the bread was a welcome bite to eat.  Are Mongolian friend’s response was the breads nice but where is the food.  Apparently most Mongolians consider cuisine that does not have meat, is not really food.  (John you would love it).

Cream of Mushroom Soup


            Yes, I took a few bites before I took the picture, I was hungry darn it.  The soup was delicious, rich and smooth, with cream, and truffle oil drizzled on top.  It has a thick, earthy flavor, with not being over powering.

Pasta Carbonara


            This was Mark’s dinner and no I did not steal a taste.

Some other Pasta dish with Mushrooms, Chicken and Pesto


            This was Kathleen’s dinner and she might have stabbed with her fork if I tried to get a taste.

Salmon


            Yes it tastes as good as it looks according to Zima.

Tsuivan


            Oh so good, beef, noodle, and vegetable goodness.  A slightly salty taste enhanced by soy sauce.  Check out my Tsagaan Sar posts for a description of the dish.

Ox Tongue


            Oh so good, the meat is extremely tender and melts in your mouth.  I think it was braised, but I’m not a chef.  The taste is just out of this world, and what you see in the picture is an appetizer and not a meal.  The salsa is non spicy slightly sweet with a hint of bitterness that pairs very well with the meat.  I would go back just for the Ox tongue.

Cheese Cake


            Mongolian cheese cake, is firmer, and less sweet, than other cheese cakes with a crème Brule style topping.  It is quite good and doesn’t leave me feeling like I just ate diabetes, with cake that good I just had to have a second piece.

Tiramisu


            No tasting on this either for two very important reasons.  One I don’t particularly like Tiramisu.  Two Mark and Kathleen were too busy attacking each other’s plates like a married couple, and I didn’t want to lose a hand.

            FYI- Don’t worry they are actually married.  I guess dad learned early on not to touch mom’s ice cream.

The Weather- yes we get snow in Mongolia


            I know you can’t see it, but it is actually snowing.

Mongolian Weddings

            First let me say Congratulations John and Meg.  Now let me fill you in on a few Mongolian wedding traditions.

Dress


            Sorry dad but you the groom’s father has to be the master of ceremonies.  The wedding and reception lasts about three to four days.

            Meg your family lucks out as you family gets an odd number of livestock based on the wealth of the grooms family.  Also your dad gets a bucket of glue.


            Oh and I know it’s a bit chilly in Pa right now, but those Mongolian blankets should keep you nice and warm.