Friday, July 2, 2010

Mongolian Permaculture: Day 3 - OUCH


Our mission today:
  • Natural History museum
  • Fresh produce market
  • Find composting worms
  • Meet Programs Director at Mille’s expat Cafe
  • Replace Matt’s stolen video camera
Somewhere between the Natural History Museum and our search for the Fresh Produce Market - actually within 500 meters of leaving another café where we stop in for a quick cold drink – my new toy, the HD Video camera I only just upgraded to, the tool for my primary function on this project …is plucked deftly from my backpack, never to be seen again.

We wouldn’t have known except that a bunch of street kids yelling after us for money were actually yelling at the stupid foreigner walking around the streets of Ulanbaataar with his backpack open.

I am livid, upset at myself for letting this happen, and running through all the things I coulda-should-woulda done differently, knowing even as I storm back to the café we just left to double-check if maybe, just maybe the camera is waiting for me , that it is long gone and hopefully will provide someone with enough money for a nice meal.

In a country where the average wage is around $3,600AUS/year, I am walking around with electronic equipment worth approximately 2 ½ years’ wages. It would have paid to be a little more aware… at least it is something that is replacable.

Never fear, travel insurance is here, and so it is not a total loss; Rick has already gone into damage-control and is exploring options as we walk to Millie’s to meet Michelle.

Some painful lessons learned today, but nothing irreplacable lost. As Bek told me gently over dinner, after ribbing me all afternoon about what-kind-of-cameraman-loses-his-camera-on-the-first-day:

“Mongolians say if you buy someone tea for one thousand Tugrik, then two thousand Tugrik will come back to you.”
-Mongolian saying-

Meanwhile, Rick and Kat have managed to secure a handful of compost worms from an Aussie nurse working with another NGO who managed to bring some to the country in her boot. They are hilarious to watch wandering the streets of Ulanbaataar, attracting bewildered stares as they stop every block or so to pore over plants growing out of cracks in the pavement while a long-haired hapa boy [or as Rick called my mixed ethnicity the other day: Hybrid Vigour …I like ;) ] takes photos of them staring at weeds.

One time Rick narrowly avoids disaster – I have no idea how – by avoiding a faceplant, broken arm, or worse, being run over by a car as he trips over a street curb while looking up at some trees… I watch as he analyzes the whole thing in slow motion on the way down to the pavement: “I am falling …no cars coming, that is a good thing …don’t want to break my arm …so don’t put my hands out …protect my face …roll with it …**SPRAINED WRIST** - **OUCH!!!** …Phew, that could have been worse…”

The rest of the day is a success, The Program Director offers up her camera ad Bek helps me get tapes, then drives me all over Ulanbaataar to show me his hometown. We meet his wife Maka and its off to ceck on thir brand-new apartment still under construction, pass by the giant buddha statue in the rich part of town, swing past the college aparment Bek lived in during his studies, and finish the day off with BiBimBap stonepots at their favorite Korean take-away restaurant.

Plants Identified in UB so far:
  • Dock
  • Plantaine [roundleafed variety / ribwort]
  • Wild Thyme
  • Wild Chives
  • Mint Varieties
  • Southernwood
  • Queen Anne’s
  • Seabuckthorn
  • Currant Varieties
  • Chinese Poplar


  1. is that gray hair i see?

  2. not my grey hair ...that aint me... =p