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