Puppies, boots, and Chinese lanterns

Hey all! Nothing super major has gone down in the last few weeks, but lots of fun little things have happened:

I sat puppies! There are three long-term expat couples in Khovd–two of them recently left the country for various reasons, which resulted in a pretty invigorating round of musical dogs as people left and came back at different times and took care of each other’s pets. One of the dogs involved had recently had not one, not two, but nine puppies–and someone was needed to take care of them in order to fill in a four-day gap in the musical dogs game. Enter me, because I a) love puppies, and b) worked for this petsitting company once, so I’m basically an expert. Or something.

Petsitting in Mongolia is a pretty far cry from petsitting in suburban Jersey, because petsitting in Jersey never required peeing outside in -20° or making a fire to keep you and the puppies from freezing to death. The good news is that I can now make fires: throw a bucket of coal in, pile on the wood, shove some paper in there, hit the whole thing with a blow torch (repeatedly, while cursing) for an hour until it lights, while all the while hungry puppies make hungry puppy noises and you’re all like YOU UNGRATEFUL MONGRELS, I AM TRYING TO SAVE YOUR LIVES HERE.

It was actually a really fun weekend. Every night I pulled a couple puppies out of the box, gave them a baby-wipe bath, and let them cuddle on my lap while we watched movies like The Last King of Scotland and The English Patient, and when I say “we,” I mean “I watched movies and the little bastards passed out ten minutes in.” Random side note: why is The English Patient the worst movie I’ve ever seen? Contemplate how everyone in that movie sucks at making decisions and Ralph Fiennes is creepy with personal-space issues. While you’re doing that, look at some pictures of puppies:

Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frankincense, Gideon, Milly, and Cat Woman. Just don't ask me which is which.
Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frankincense, Gideon, Milly, and Cat Woman. Just don’t ask me which is which.

Hi, momma.
Hi, momma.


Mongol boots!
I have coveted Mongolian boots since the moment I got here.

I know you saw this guy’s boots before you saw his spinal problems.

Enter Operation Foreign Footwear, in which I’ve been scoping out the Khovd market for months looking at boots and working up the courage to try some on.

About two weeks ago one of my Peace Corps friends was going boot shopping in the market with one of her coworkers and invited me to tag along and maybe finally try on/buy some Mongol boots. While we were walking around, I casually mentioned that I really like the hardcore traditional Mongol boots and I’d be interested in buying some. “Oh no,” said PCF’s coworker, “those are only for wrestlers.” Damn. Thinking fast, PCF nudged me and said, “Buy them for your dad.” PCF happens to be a genius.

“Well,” I said, “if I can’t get them for myself, then I’d really like to some for my dad.”
“Oh of course. What size is your dad?”
“Coincidentally, the same size as me.”

So I did! We hit up almost everyone selling boots until the last guy pulled these bad boys out and I was like YES MUST PURCHASE.
So I tried them on, and they were dad’s size–so I asked PCF, “PCF, would my dad look dumb in these?” “No, I think your dad would look awesome.” “PCF, could my dad wear these to a bar?” “I think your dad would be the coolest person in the bar if he did.” “PCF, what would my dad wear with these?” “Basically anything.” So I bought them. For dad, of course.

The thing is, they’re not designed for left and right feet–they’re the same boot, twice, which is just how they make them. This means that my options are “wear these boots to events that only require standing around and looking awesome,” or “resign myself to ambulating about as elegantly as a velociraptor with polio.” Don’t even care, because awesome boots.

Merry Christmas, dad! Thanks for letting me wear your boots for the indefinite future!

Chinese Lantern fail
A couple nights ago, our Russian friends called us up; apparently, it was Buddha’s birthday and the temple was having a party. So we went.

Here are some pictures of the temple in daylight, it’s actually really pretty:
Amusingly, it is right across the street from Mongolworld*, an amusement park that appears to be open exactly never.
*May not actually be the park’s name.

Back to Buddha’s birthday.

When we arrived, it was at the end of a very long day for the monks and baby monks(novices? initiates? interns?). They had been chanting for 10+ hours, so we listened, walked around the temple, turned the turney-thingies, looked at the statues, got stared at, and eventually bought ourselves some Chinese lanterns. After about half an hour, the crowd of Mongols inside the building filed out to the yard and started lighting their lanterns, so we followed suit.
Our Russian friends had done this before, but the whole Chinese lantern thing was new to us and it took three of us a good ten minutes to get mine lit. We finally got it burning, so I held on tight and thought very, very carefully about my wish.
Then I let it go, and watched it soar gracefully up to the heavens, taking my wish with it.
Question: what does it mean if the ball of fire inflating your wish falls out of the lantern and almost hits a child in the face? I’m asking for a friend.


3 thoughts on “Puppies, boots, and Chinese lanterns

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