Monday, June 06, 2005

On To Siberia

I'm not ready to leave Mongolia quite yet, but I suppose I don't have much of a choice. Train leaves in a few hours. 35 Hours to Siberia.

Spent the morning wandering through an active monastery. It was so cool. The young monks were doing readings and we caught the end of a chanting ceremony with the older monks. When communism was the dominant force in Mongolia, many of the Buddhist monasteries and temples were destroyed. The one that we visited today is one of the few that survived. Most of the other monasteries and temples were built in the last few years. Buddhism isn't as strong here as it was before communism, but it's making its way back into the fold. Christianity and Islam two other favorites here.

My afternoon was for me. I went to the beauty salon for a wax and pedicure. The woman who owns the salon used to be a model. She was stunning - most definitely super model material. After she got married, she and her husband moved to the U.S. for 3 years so he could attend law school at George Washington University in D.C., which explains how her English was so good. She went to beauty school in Baltimore and they returned to Ulan Bataar, where she opened the first full-service beauty salon and her husband practices business law.

She is like other Mongolians who are really working on developing their country. We met another local guide last night who studied business at some private college in Spokane, WA and returned to do his part in modernizing Mongolia. He said it was a tough adjustment when he first returned, but he felt like he could do more good here. He is an environmental consultant with a mining company and does tours on the side to make some extra cash. It is so fascinating to see the birth of a country from scratch after years of colonization and domination by Russia and China.

I'm definitely coming back here. I want to see what it looks like in the coming years.

On a completely separate topic, I have read some interesting books. China Inc. by Ted Fishman is a wealth of facts about China's rise to superpower status. It is a really easy read. The Trouble With Islam Today by Irshad Manji is poorly written, but the points she makes about the pathetic state of affairs in the Islamic community and need for reform are on point and way overdue. The Good Women Of China by XinRan is a really moving collection of stories of women' experiences during the Cultural Revolution.

15 Comments:

At 6:32 PM, June 07, 2005 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

Damn. Is there any place you're NOT going??? :-)

 
At 6:08 PM, June 09, 2005 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am shocked that you trusted someone besides Dee to do the waxing - it seems like you are having an incredible time! And all of the reading - this will be good for those future plans we talked about. Can't wait to see ya when you get back.

J

 
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