Note: More catching up with posts. But my host family just got a modem, so now I have wifi and will hopefully be able to get caught up the rest of the way!
After our few days at the ger camp, we got back on the buses for the 4-hour trip north from Ulaanbaatar to Darkhan, where we would finish our Orientation.
During the bus ride, we saw lots of hills and livestock and not much else.
Finally we arrived in Darkhan…
…where we were greeted by some of our trainers.
We stayed at the Darkhan Hotel and had our orientation sessions at a school roughly a 15-minute walk away. Sessions introduced us to Peace Corps medical and safety information, sector (Health, TEFL, or Community & Youth Development) information, and language and cross-cultural classes. We got to see several cultural performances, and I took lots of photos and videos of them, but unfortunately I left the USB cable for my camera at home because I thought, Oh, I can just download images from my camera to my computer using the SD card slot on my laptop. Except the videos won’t transfer that way, so no videos for now! Maybe if I ever get the cable sent to me or get a new one or something I will upload them later. Anyway, there was Mongolian throat singing (khoomei) and playing the horse-head fiddle (morin khuur):
Two dance routines (I got videos of them both but only one photo):
And more singing:
Sorry, I know still photos don’t really do much justice when it comes to music and dancing, but I promise I will upload the videos once I find a way to get them from my camera to my computer.
We also got to taste some actual Mongolian food, which was a first since the Darkhan Hotel was pretty much just feeding us their interpretation of American food. I didn’t take pictures, but thanks to Google Images I can show you what it was! We had some aaruul (pieces of dried curd):
Suutei tsai (milk tea):
Boov (deep-fried pastries):
Some kind of cheese (byaslag), yogurt (tarag), and sea-buckthorn (chatsargan) juice:
And of course, sheep’s head, which I will spare you from looking at a picture. If you really want to see what it looks like, you can look it up on your own time, but just imagine a sheep head, shaved and boiled, and you get the picture.
The aaruul and suutei tsai were both extremely salty, the aaruul so much so that I literally could not finish my piece. The cheese was pretty tasteless (it was nothing like the cheese I’m used to). The yogurt was actually okay; mix some fruit, sugar, and/or honey in there, and it would make a decent breakfast. The boov was basically like extremely stale, dense bread, but it was definitely edible. The juice was amazing, and I was very surprised to learn that there’s actually some kind of fruit that grows in Mongolia. And how do you eat sheep’s head, you ask? Take a knife and just slice a sliver of the meat/fat right off the skull. Yum!
During one of our evenings in Darkhan, some of the current PCVs took us to the giant Buddha statue near our hotel.
It was up on a hill and gave us a great view of the whole city.
Then we walked back because we were getting eaten by mosquitoes.
UPDATE: So, I ended up just creating a YouTube channel to make it easier to add videos from now on. But you can check out the videos from my Mongolia orientation there.