Monday, August 11, 2008

Racing in the city

Postcards and tourists in Ulan Bator

This morning I don’t wake up early or late. Since it’s free, we go downstairs to have breakfast and frankly, it’s quite bad. Oh, the good Chinese dishes are far away. We go back upstairs and since I’m behind writing my texts, I settle in and begin to write. I finish the first one and I’m beginning the second one when dad stops me and tells me not to carry on writing mechanically. He proposes that we go out and have a look around. Dad made inquiries and we head towards a large merchant street. We walk ahead and find the post office. Three German tourists ask if they sell postcards, local stamps and if they can provide information on Mongolia. When it’s our turn to ask for maps, we end up facing three other Germans asking for…fishing permits! Hearing this, dad ask what they’re going to fish and they answer that it’s a large red fish that is found in Mongolia. Dad never misses an occasion to learn something, to be informed and to understand new things. Finally, we don’t buy new maps but instead we buy postcards. We leave the post office and head towards the souvenir shops. A few steps ahead I come across a poster promoting the windmills at Nord-Pas-De-Calais, which surprises me. I look up and see a French flag and I understand that we’re in front of the French embassy and I put my hand on my heart to sing “La Marseillaise”. When I’m finished, we keep going on our small route and end up in a store where there’s a mix of different traditional wonders of Mongolia with hats and pretty little yurts, but since we don’t have the room or the means to buy souvenirs we only watch… “with our eyes (bis)”. Before, I used to collect all the soccer jerseys of the national teams but it’s becoming a little too young for me, so I decide to do the same thing but with flags. A Mongolian flag is the only thing I buy in this boutique. We keep on going after having paid and we end up in front of a large mall. We have a look and we encounter a group of 20 Mongolians between 15 and 50 that live in Japan and are dressed in Western fashion. They spend by buying everything and anything, even things they find in abundance in Japan like Hello Kitty mugs. We try to find a bit of room to pass this crowd of short people. I look around me when I come across a Lonely Planet guide on the Tran Siberian. It’s a train that we’ll have to take. I show the book to dad who thumbs through it and takes it since he says that we’ll most likely need it. We also pick a few postcards that we’ll send out and we go pay.

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