Dear London: A Love Letter

Dear London,

As I sit here next to my suitcases, reflecting on the past eight months spent living and working in this city, I can’t help but recall that wise, temperate, philosophical medium called Tumblr where once was said:

alt text here

Then I remember that Tumblr is where the pre-teens of the economic aristocracy go to validate the ever-living fuck out of one another’s nonsensical, cocaine-fueled bullshit—because London is the most repulsive, most malignant, most contemptible, most desperate, debased, and wretched tumefaction to ever take cancerous root in the North Atlantic.

Perhaps I should not be so harsh. There is of course, much to love about London. Weekends are an intriguing and inspiring investigation into the multitudinous colors the human body is capable of regurgitating, such that any rainbow in the sky must hear news of the Camden streets and weep at its own inadequacy. The smug callousness of the populace cautions that in the ineffable scheme of all things, we are but balls of dust whose self-importance is dwarfed only by our marvelous insignificance—while the stratospheric cost of living gently reminds us that resistance is, dare I say, feudal. And how could one properly contemplate the soul-crushing ceaselessness of the rain without the hours of meditation spent on public buses crawling through the tide of traffic like twigs in a choked-up stream?

But perhaps the most admirable and remarkable thing about London is that it is the sole place in all of my life where overly social me has spent more than a few hours and befriended…virtually no one. This was particularly impressive in the light of prior accomplishments in friend making which saw me effortlessly gathering large social groups in Western Mongolia, suburban New Jersey, and a small town in Northern Germany in which the major feature of interest was a maximum-security prison.

My lack of success in this area was certainly not for want of effort on my part. I went to language and social meet-ups, I joined clubs, I volunteered at animal shelters—and yet, the people with whom I spent my spare time interacting stubbornly refused to become anything other than familiar faces in a crowd of people with better things to do than socialize with me. Occasionally I got as far as organizing a get-together with people who seemed fun and cool and interesting and interested in being my friend—until they canceled on me, generally as I walking out the door to meet them, and always while citing some platonic incarnation of “it’s not you, it’s me” right before being permanently swallowed up by the social sinkhole that is London. If I hadn’t at least had nice people at dance and work, I’m pretty sure I would have thrown myself off Tower Bridge back in November out of sheer loneliness.

Where did I go wrong? Two problems: 1) I didn’t grow up here, and 2) I didn’t go to uni here. Turns out Londoners as a general rule only make friends when they’re shoving crayons up their noses or shoving crayons up their noses while their stomachs are being pumped. Of my little group of friends, exactly 0% of them are from London. We bonded over how difficult it is to make friends here unless you’re 19 and have spent at least twenty minutes taking turns vomiting into a sink with someone who used to be your classmate but is now your BFF.

So it is with a great sigh of relief that I excuse myself from the absolute, sweeping loneliness of this urban hellhole and make for more social climes. My suitcase is a little fuller than it was eight months ago, but the rest of me is tired and empty. London, knowing me and knowing my life, I have no doubt our paths will cross again. But with any luck, our future encounter will only be for as long as it takes to catch my connecting flight at Heathrow on my way to some place that doesn’t suck gangrenous monkeyballs.

Goodbye and good riddance,


Online Dating Ridiculousness, Part 3: Return of the Douches

First, there was Part 1, where in my sweet, sweet innocence, I dipped a toe into the black lagoon of online dating and thought: “Huh. This will be fun.” Then there was Part 2, The Online Dating Strikes Back, in which I discovered the lagoon was actually a poisonous cesspool for nuclear waste. Welcome to Part 3. This one has wookies, and by wookies, I mean small men in bear costumes whose social skills have tragically died in a fire.

21. No wookies
alt text here
Or what other explanation do you have for this?

22. No “ciao, bella!”s
alt text here
One: Never ask “why are you single?” Two: Never ask “why are you single?” a second time. And three, don’t be your own stereotype. Unless that works, in which case I’ll just start all my messages from here on out with “Howdy, partner!”

23. No opening with your phone number
alt text here
I mean, points for honesty, but Carl is lucky I’m a nice person and have no friends in London. Or else Carl would have repeatedly received calls from parties extremely interested in knowing whether his refrigerator was functioning.

24. No balls that are impossible to throw back
alt text here
What is the correct answer to this?
A) “Kay.”
B) “Thank you.”
C) “Only occasionally, while running from rapists or towards small children who have gotten into the knife drawer.”
D) Radio silence

25. No dramatics
alt text here
I love a clever bit of self-deprecation as much as the next person living in England, but this…this is a seven-year-old with the brain chemistry of a self-aware and tragically extroverted sloth. Who allowed this man on the internet? Take this bottle of Nardil and go stand in the corner.

26. No pretentious douchenozzles
alt text here
A woman with a sharp brain and a kind heart and an open mind? Hahahaha, bro, there’s no such thing as unicorns.

27. No stalkers
alt text here
I meant to click on the girl next to you who I’m pretty sure was topless in her picture, but something about you makes me want to tie you up and pee on you. Could it be fate? Are you my unicorn?”

28. No guys in the wrong place
alt text here
Ah. Guy thinks he wants this:
Actually wants this:
alt text here
It’s cool. Honest mistake.

29. No racist pickup lines?
alt text here
Because nothing says “sexy” like a good ol’ fashioned racial pejorative.

And finally…

30. No one who describes themselves like so:
alt text here


Further adventures in Central Mongolia: Tövkhön Khiid

After seeing all the sites in Kharkhorin thrice over, Swiss Friend and I decided to do a day trip to Tövkhön monastery on the recommendation of our ger camp buddies. Gaya, ger camp manager extraordinaire, hooked us up with a relative of hers for a ride, and with surprisingly little fuss or issues, we were off.

But in Mongolia, life isn’t easy for very long, and in our case, it was easy for about an hour before our car got stuck. How stuck, you ask? This stuck.
In a stroke of luck that we made sure to appreciate very, very hard, we got stuck within sight of a few gers that housed an extended family of horse herders. Amazingly, these people also owned a tractor, so we let them get to it while we:

1) Wandered around for two hours looking at the baby horses
2) tried (and then declined) massive bowls of fermented horse milk
3) chased away the cows that wanted to join our picnicDSC01139DSC01140

and 4) climbed mountains

Find the stuck jeep in that picture.

Eventually our car was freed from the mud, an event our driver and rescuers celebrated with various alcoholic beverages, as is only appropriate when you’re about to go drive on cliffs and things.

And then we were off!

Our drive finished at the base of a forest on a hill.

After half an hour of hiking, we reached monastery base camp, or whatever the official name is.

Monastery base camp sold iced tea, vodka, potato chips, and very little else.

Up we go!

The view from the top was…well, it was Mongolia, what do you expect?

Oh, and the monastery was pretty aiite too.

Tövkhön is the one of the oldest monasteries in Mongolia and has stood on this site in one form or another since 1648 when a fourteen-year-old monk looking to build a monastery decided this was a nice spot. You know, as opposed to fighting the Manchus, like every teenager with a head on his shoulders was doing at the time.

But the mountain kept going, so up we went. At one point we had to do some actual rock scaling to get to the top, only to discover the giant sign that said women weren’t allowed on that part of the mountain because insert reason here. In such instances, I like to pretend I’m illiterate.

And then our friend showed up! The day before, we had befriended a Dutch tour guide, so while his group ran around the mountain, we happily hung out with him.

After we got back to the ger camp that night, we discovered Gaya had somehow read our minds and booked us bus tickets back to UB for the next day. So instead of stressing, we packed our bags and spent the rest of the evening chilling with our ger camp buddies and being overwhelmingly happy that we had come to Kharkhorin after all.

Online Dating Ridiculousness, Part 2: Things Get Worse

Remember this post when I chronicled how online dating has extended my list of reasons not to talk to people? Guess what–still single, still on the internet. So down the rabbit-hole we go, Alice!

11. No legitimately terrible messages
No terrible messages
Really, bro? It sounds like you just picked words out of a hat. I mean, I can do that too (Goat fine heyyy revolving his isn’t go away I hate you). But I don’t.

12. No guys who live in other countries
No guys far away
no guys far away 3
No guys far away 2
This seems like a really good way to completely defeat the purpose of dating.

13. No having really creepy handles
No creepy names copy
“Wow, this guy’s handle is a bit disturbing. Oh wait, no, look–he just wants new friends or someone to play tennis with! Goodness, I really need to stop being so judgmental.”

14. No icebreakers
No icebreakers
This isn’t freshman year of high school, and we’re not recent middle school graduates whose tentative social skills have been annihilated by hormones. But if we must, here’s mine: Who would scare me more if I were trapped in a room with them, you or Frenchfootlover?

15. No messages that are the OKCupid equivalent of a Facebook food picture
No OKC equivalents of a facebook food photo
How’s your morning been? I’m ignoring you.

16. No ridiculous questions
No ridiculous questions
A panic room in which I take shelter from the ridiculousness that is online dating. But like, a good one with chocolate and puppies and Chris Hemsworth.

17. No awkward introductions
No awkward intros copy
Can you imagine if we all talked like this? “Hello, I’m Tina, 27, 5’4, 112 pounds, no known allergies, 3.7 GPA in college, no debt, currently an intern, one time killed a turkey in my shower. Can you pass the orange juice, please?”

18. No being weird
*Turns tail and runs.*

19. No sending me ridiculously long messages that involve warnings and tips for dating you
No Tips for dating you
Ah. Guy thinks he wants this:
Actually wants this:
It’s cool, bro. Honest mistake.

And finally…

20. No leading with this:
No leading with this. copy

More Adventures in Central Mongolia: Kharkhorin

After our absolutely amazing horse trekking trip to some hot springs, Swiss Friend and I decided to check another piece of Central Mongolian awesomeness off our list, this time heading to Kharkhorin in Övörkhangai aimag. Kharkhorin is the site of the ancient Mongol city of Karakorum, which at one point was the capital of the Mongol empire. As a result, every tour bus doing the close-to-Ulaanbaatar route stops here.

We said a legitimately sad goodbye to the absolutely amazing Fairfield Guesthouse in Tsetserleg, and after much struggle, did eventually find the one man in the whole town who would take us to Kharkhorin for the going rate, rather than the going rate x 5 in foreigner tax. That guy also turned out to be an absolutely terrifying driver, so instead of relaxing for four hours, we spent two white-knuckle hours planning our funerals. In our eagerness to get out of the car, we forgot that we had absolutely no idea where we were staying that night, and as a result had him let us out nowhere near…anything.DSC01099
Cue several hours of 1) us wandering around looking for the ger camp we had arbitrarily picked out of Lonely Planet, 2) not finding said ger camp, 3) finding a hotel playing terrible karaoke music that wanted to charge us exorbitant prices, 4) leaving said hotel, 5) me sitting alone on the side of the road throwing rocks at dogs while Swiss Friend tried to (unsuccessfully) find some other ger camp, 6) me eventually remembering that in our trek to the ass-end of nowhere, we had passed a sign in English advertising Gaya’s Guest House, 7) Swiss friend sitting alone on the side of the road throwing rocks at dogs while I trekked back to the sign; 8) prayers to Zeus that the number on the sign would work, 9) talking to the owner of the camp’s 12-year-old daughter whose English was weirdly excellent, and 10) getting picked up by the pre-teen ten minutes later in a cab she had wrangled for us.

That in combination with Kharkhorin’s relatively unspectacular scenery  (Western Mongolia snobs that we are) lead us to initially regret our decision to bother with this godforsaken, ugly, tourist-trap corner of Mongolia. We made a deal: we’d give ourselves 24 hours, and if Kharkhorin continued to suck, we’d jet.
We arrived at the ger camp mid-afternoon-ish, so we were all alone and really not feeling the place. So we went exploring–and discovered some pretty interesting things on our hike. These included:

The skeletal heads of Naadam horse race winners:
A turtle rock, which apparently marked the borders of ancient Karakorum.DSC01106
And a giant rock carved to look like a goat, and by goat I mean penis.
According to the internet, this monument to manhood was put here to remind the monks at the nearby monastery to stay celibate. To me, erecting (ha) a giant statue of a penis to remind you not to use yours sounds less like Buddhism and more like a sex ed class in Clayhatchee, Alabama. What I can say is that right as we were playing on the rock penis, the sun came out, so Swiss Friend and I decided then would be as good a time as any to practice some yoga…because where else are you going to do it?

That evening we headed back to Gaya’s ger camp to eat dinner, get acquainted with Gaya (who turned out to be just as lovely as her daughter), and befriend…everyone who was staying there. After getting off to a bad start, our opinion of Kharkhorin was finally starting to turn around.

The next day we caught a ride down the hill with some ger camp buddies to go explore Erdene Zuu Khiid, the oldest surviving monastery in Mongolia.
It was huge and lovely and neat!DSC01124DSC01119DSC01122
We explored all the temples we were allowed in and may or may not have snuck into a few we weren’t.DSC01116DSC01121
We also got to hang out and listen to some chanting. We had a wonderful day walking around the grounds and making more friends.

Later the afternoon, Swiss Friend and I decided to explore in town, where we made even more friends and convinced some particularly awesome ones–two French women, two French children, and two Mongol dogs they’d picked up in their travels–to come back to Gaya’s with us.
That evening, after having a big group dinner at Gaya’s, Swiss Friend and I roped our ger camp friends into going on a walk with us:
Nothing like travel friends, kids, dogs, and a walk in the Mongol twilight to remind you how amazing your life is.

Yay, Kharkhoriin!

Mongol vs English Thanksgiving: A Photographic Comparison

Last year, I partook in the shower slaughter of a turkey in the Middle of Nowhere, Mongolia. This year, I partook in a fancy catered Thanksgiving dinner in a historical house. Let’s compare!

Last year:
This year:
Last year:
This year:
Last year:
This year:
Last year:
This year:
Last year:
This year:
This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for a lot of things: my job, London, the fabulous people I have met here. But mostly I’m grateful I got to spend ten months being equal parts elated, frustrated, horrified, and endlessly entertained by the complete ridiculousness that is Mongolia. I miss it, and as much fun as English Thanksgiving was, I would go back to Mongol Thanksgiving in a heartbeat. Too many people crammed into my broken living room, our freshly slaughtered turkey cooking in the oven, my friends bringing over all the chairs, plates, and silverware in their respective apartments (and still coming up short), my bathroom reeking of dead bird, and all of us sitting around my shitty table, trading stories no one else in any other country would ever find funny, knowing that more Mongol hilarity is right around the corner.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Online Dating Ridiculousness–Part I

In many ways, I don’t consider myself a (stereo)typical American. I speak another language, for example. I think war is silly and social health care is awesome. Guns and social conservatives scare me. Religious figures and meatloaf make me uncomfortable. But in one respect I am very, very American, and that is that I will talk to anyone.

Babies. Dogs. Trees. Tiny humans. Old humans. Humans in costume. Things that look like humans but aren’t. Strangers on the bus. Strangers on the train. Strangers on the plane. Strangers on the street. Strangers on bikes. Strangers with hair/makeup/clothing/shoes that I find admirable. It’s my superpower, my hobby, my greatest travel skill. In fact, I am so overenthusiastic about talking to people–and so clueless as to the possible consequences–that (as anyone who has ever traveled with me has soon discovered) I will talk myself into trouble in a heartbeat. Courtesy of sub-par language skills, I have accidentally told 15-year-olds that I would have sex with them and agreed to go on dates with mariachi musicians, narcos, and old men who want to go mushroom hunting. On occasion, I have been known to be so busy assuming the basic goodness of everyone around me that I have almost gotten tear-gassed.

So knowing this about me, you can see why I thought joining OKCupid would be a great idea.

“Dear Tina, WHY. Love, everyone.” Well everyone, I’ll tell you. After a few weeks in London, I still didn’t really have any friends and I wanted an excuse to get out of my room and talking to people. And yes, I’ve been single for a year and a half at this point, so I though “Why not?” If something comes of it, cool. If nothing comes of it, well, at least I got out of my room and talking to people.

Before I joined OKCupid, my criteria for talking to someone began at “not a douche” and ended at “has all their own teeth,” with the last one being fairly negotiable. OKCupid, however, has forced me to come up with a very long, very sad list of reasons not to talk to people. As the social equivalent of a 12-week-old puppy, this has made me a bit depressed, but the necessity is there and the struggle is real.

Welcome to Tina’s Arbitrary OKCupid Automatic Rejection List, Part I of many.

1) No one-word messages.
If you’re only going to message me one word, it had better be a pretty damn awesome word.
No one word messages 2
No one word messages
Actually, I was thinking more like “Xenomorph” or “Frigoriphic” or “Homunculus.”

2) No shirtless pics
No shirtless pics
Put it away, dude. Just put it away.
No Shirtless Pics 2
On second thought, maybe I should just introduce these two. They can stand around in their underwear flexing their muscles at each other in a peculiar mating call that only brings in other douchebags.

Like this guy!
3) No profile pictures of people having sex
No...guys with profile pictures of people having sex
I am relatively sure the guy in this picture is not the guy whose entire profile consists of “Hello x,” because the guy in the picture, we can assume, at least had the mental faculty to present himself at a photo shoot and talk to the photographer about having his picture taken. I’m not sure “Hello x” has the mental faculty to talk to anything that’s not a carrot.

4) No run-on sentences.
No run-ons
My day’s been fine why can’t you grammar properly haha just kidding I’m actually not kidding.

5) No misusing ellipses.
No guys misuing ellipses
“Nurse, we’re losing IQ points in the spaces between the periods. This patient needs a book on basic punctuation, stat.”
“Doctor! Our only punctuation book is being used by the run-ons guy!”
“Are we not a hospital?! DAMN THESE BUDGET CUTS.”

6) No giving me ridiculous names.
No ridiculous names
No I have not, li’l mister epictoolmonsterclaw.

7) No obvious serial killers looking for victims.
No serial killers looking for victims 2
So you can kill me and leave my body in a field? I think not.
No potential murderers 3 copy
So you can kill me and leave my body in a Cornish field? I think not.
No serial killers looking for victims

8) No marriage proposals.
No marriage proposals
Wow! Let’s run as fast and as far away from this one as possible!

8a) No I-Love-Yous.
No I love yous

8b) No “I-Love-Yous” followed by marriage proposals.
No i love yous followed by marriage proposals copy

9) No unsolicited inspirational bullshit.
No inspirational advice
You were born with potential. The potential to talk to human beings. You failed, so now you get high and write for Buzzfeed to forget.

And finally–and I cannot believe I actually have to say this–10) No “adult babies” who wear diapers.
No guys who wear diapers
Fuck off.

Stay tuned for future installments of Online Dating Ridiculousness. . . . . . .because there is so much of it.

So…I live in London now. And it’s so. easy.

I’ve been delaying this blog post because I’ve been waiting for something terrible to happen to me.

No, seriously. I’ve been waiting for something to fall out of the sky and crush my legs, for some bureaucratic nightmare dragon to rear its ugly head and bite mine off, to be sleeping in a box next to the Thames. But as it turns out, I’ve been here for a little over three weeks and nothing has gone wrong. In fact, everything is fine–more than fine, everything’s great! To my complete surprise, this has been by far the easiest international move I have ever made. It remains to be seen whether that has more to do with me getting to be an old hat at this whole trans-hemispherical relocation thing, or else because everyone speaks English/you can buy brown sugar here/I just spent ten months in Mongolia after which England is a cakewalk, because seriously bro, Mongolia. Moving abroad is supposed to be hard, but life in London is so easy I feel like I’m cheating at being an expat.

Happily, I’m finding living in London combines all of my favorite things about living in Germany (health care! public transportation! things to do!) with the ability to jaywalk. Less happily, it also involves a cost of living that is just stupid, plus all the public health hazards that go along with driving cars on the wrong side of the road, which makes jaywalking a daily exercise in close encounters of the fatal kind.

I’m currently renting a room in an area of London that’s not exactly the most hopping, but since it only takes me seven minutes to walk to work in the morning, I can’t say I’m particularly sad about it. I get all of this:
while also only being approximately 30 minutes from Central London, so it’s a good compromise.

In more happy news, I love my job to a degree that I did not dare hope for when I first decided to try being an adult with an adult job for once. I thought full-time employment was supposed to be lame, and yet, it’s Sunday evening and I’m looking forward to work tomorrow because we’ve got fun things that need doing, and I am the person getting paid to do them. Amazingly, I have somehow managed to find a job that pays me to do things I enjoy doing and would be doing anyway for no money. I feel like I’ve gamed the system.

In my further quest to painstakingly assemble the ingredients of personal happiness, I got WHEEEEEEEELS.
It has flowers AND a basket AND a bell AND not one, not two, but THREE SPEEDS! It’s also, like, forty years old but whatever. Is awesome.

The only true issue I have had since arriving here is making friends. Where I live, people are either 21 or 40, and my theory as to everyone in between’s whereabouts begins and ends at “state-mandated cryogenic hibernation,” possibly to cut down on NHS costs. Ah well, they’ll come. I’m a pretty social person, so it can’t be much longer.

In conclusion, London is awesome, come visit ya’ll. We’ll grill up these:

Horse Trekking in Central Mongolia!

Swiss Friend and I are friends for many reasons. I mean yes, we didn’t exactly have a smorgasbord of friend options out in Western Mongolia, but the bigger reason is that we’re very like-minded when it comes to travel and adventures, particularly the kind that stem from bad ideas–which, arguably, is how we both wound up in Mongolia in the first place. So when I suggested we spend part of our time traveling together at a hot spring in Central Mongolia, and she suggested we get to said hot spring by horse, it was a match made in travel buddy heaven.
We started off our journey by catching the bus from UB to Tsetserleg in Arkhangai Province, Central Mongolia. Our hotel was the absolutely brilliant Fairfield Guesthouse, which has all the amazing things like hot water and carpets that get regularly cleaned. After months of Mongolia, we were so blown away by the concept of a real mattress and complimentary tea service that when we discovered our rooms came with towels for the shower, we collapsed in giggly-crying fits on our respective queen-sized beds. And then recovered by taking really long, really hot showers. One day, when I’m rich and famous and have developed an inexplicable fondness for snails, please remind me of the time the prospect of a fluffy towel made me cry. I will humbly laugh in your face and then have my manservant Claude escort you from my villa.

After that, it was dinner and exploration time! Tsetserleg boasts many attractions, like traffic circles:
Giant Buddhas in front of temples.
And something called the “Divine Enlightenment Achievement Lane.”
Either I did it wrong, or it’s broken.
Whatever, climbed mountain.
The next day, Swiss Friend and I were picked up from the guesthouse ON TIME by our driver, that’s how amazing Fairfield is. We drove about 10k out of town to a little row of gers, where all the horses were fighting amongst themselves for the privileges of bearing us for two days.
It was while we were hanging out watching our guide and the ger people chase horses around that Swiss Friend and I met Weird American Couple who, though perfectly nice, were not nearly as impressed with the guesthouse as we were and kind of dickish about it. They were dickish about a lot of things, including how long it was taking their guide to get their horses together. Luckily for us, though, their guide spoke perfect English, which we needed when we discovered that our guide had no idea where we were going or how long we were going for. We weren’t very sad to see Weird American Couple go, but we were sad they took their guide with them.

After they left, our guide ran around doing Important Guide Stuff while we befriended our horses and debated whether or not we were actually going to make it to the hot springs. At any rate, it was too late to back out, and we’re not ones for backing out anyway.

Eventually, we were off on our noble steeds, Freddie (Mercury) and Bruce (Springsteen).

Day 1 of our horse trek saw us traversing various rivers, mountains, forests, and valleys, all from the backs of our little Mongol ponies.
Turns out it’s not so easy to take pictures from the back of a horse, especially when your camera sucks and said horse is dancing around in circles because God forbid he be more than five feet away from inside Bruce’s butt at any give point in time. But I got some decent ones.
One of the my favorite things about Mongolia was how often landscapes caused me to reevaluate my life. This trek had me reevaluating every ten minutes.
It didn’t take us very long to realize that our guide had zero interest in what we did with the horses as long as we didn’t fall off of them.
This lead to various meanderings away from the route, sing-a-longs, and the occasional Freddie v. Bruce speed face-off which our guide more or less ignored. At one point I went galloping past the guide while hollering like a madwoman and he turned to Swiss Friend and said “…Real Mongol woman.” Good news, ladies. All you need to do to be a real Mongol woman is not fall off your horse.
The only part of Day 1 that was mildly unpleasant was right at the end, when we rode the Arkhangai Mosquito World Fair, the multitudes of which welcomed us by attempting to kills us. I was wearing jeans which saved me, but poor Swiss Friend was not.

Thankfully we rode through the mosquito attack relatively quickly, and not too long afterwards arrived at the hot springs.
The “hot springs,” as it turns out, is like, two inches of water that comes out of the ground straight from hell because it’s ridiculously hot.
They mix it in with cold water and pump it into the baths, which we jumped right into because we’d been riding for seven hours and deserved it, goddamit.
We rented a ger for the night and passed out, but not before discovering where Frodo Baggins’ Mongol cousins live.
We kicked off the next morning by wandering around the ger camp and attempting to emotionally prepare to ride again.
Day 2 was much the same as Day 1, except this time we were starting off tired and sore. Also, we switched horses because Bruce’s enthusiasm for life was making Swiss Friend nervous.
We also took a slightly different route back, one that required much more scrabbling up mountains with our ponies.
Notable moments from Day 2 included galloping Bruce through a herd of yaks, which is an excellent way to wake yourself up in the morning.
After six hours of riding, we finally made it back to the guesthouse…
Our guide vanished with the horses so we treated ourselves with hot showers, at which point we discovered that Swiss Friend, on our jaunt through the Mosquito World Fair, had been bitten an impressive 192 times, just on her legs.
We were also somewhat surprised to run into Weird American Couple at the guesthouse, who informed us that they had cut their trip short because their butts hurt, the nomads they stayed with didn’t feed them vegetables, and because they really wanted prune juice. Swiss Friend started calling them the “prune douches,” and almost broke me.

The verdict: seriously amazing. Central Mongolia is what everyone thinks of when they hear “Mongolia,” and it was really amazing to see and experience it from the back of a horse. My suggestion is be a bad-ass, not a prune douche. Bug spray wouldn’t hurt either.


HOLY ADVENTURES, BATMAN, Kulturschock! is moving to…



So right off the bat, serious apologies for not keeping my blog updated since I’ve been back in the US. I’ve got a couple more Mongolia posts coming up in the next few weeks but my lack of posting has been mostly the result of the intensified soul-crushing job hunt that has kept me chained to my computer and crying into my bowl of ice cream.

But NO MORE. Because I have a JOB. Technically a (PAID!) internship, but details are the devil! or something. And it’s in LONDON! This calls for ARBITRARY CAPITALIZATION!

I’ll be working for a university doing stuff with their international students. So not in international development, which was my original goal, although the hypocrisy of not getting paid to do an entry-level job helping other people get out of poverty became a bit more than I could stand after 154 failed applications in the field. So, I’m moving into higher education and hoping this sets me up down the line to do a lot of diversity/immigration stuff. We shall see. Also, my new workplace is in a castle, which sets my little American heart to exploding every time I think about it.

I’m leaving Sept 24th, and as is pretty standard for me, I’m flipping back and forth between being desperately, manically excited and desperately, manically terrified. If my history is any indication, we can expect these feelings to intensify in character but shorten in duration until the day I leave, when my second-to-second mood swings will give me the effect of having taken so much speed that I became a Spanish soap opera. And then I’ll get to London and be perfect.

So stay tuned for more Mongolia posts and until then, cheers to old adventures and new ones.