Katieholder’s Blog

Thanksgiving and IST Insanity

I know I fell down on my blogging duties during Thanksgiving/IST/UB visit so this one is going to cover a lot. Go to the bathroom now, because I’m sure you won’t want to take a break while reading about my awesome adventures…

Alona, Dao and I left for UB the day before Thanksgiving on the 10 a.m. bus to UB. First, let me explain how you buy a bus ticket.

  1. You are NOT allowed to buy your ticket the day before, only the day of your trip. This is a really kinda crappy inconvenience because you basically have to walk back and forth from your home to the bus station twice in one day instead of working it into your errands the day before.
  2. You are NOT allowed to pick your seat. Your seat number is determined by how many people bought their ticket before you that morning at 8 a.m. when the ticket office opened.

Now that you know the basics of buying the ticket, the bus part should be easy, right? Well, not really. If you have a large item (backpack, suitcase, dead sheep, shipment of ger cover, etc.—I’ve observed all of these in the luggage compartment) this has to be stowed in a locked compartment under the bus. Until they run out of room, and with a dead sheep in there, that will be soon so you kinda need to get to the bus early to make sure dead sheep guy doesn’t take up all the room.

So, now your backpack is stored next to a dead sheep and you’re in your seat (hopefully by a friend) and the trip is about to begin. This is where it can get a little complicated. If you’re hot natured like me, you want to sit next to the window where you’ll keep your coat on the entire ride since the window has several millimeters of frost on it (on the inside). If you’re in the aisle seat, prepare to start stripping because an hour into the ride the heater will be fully cranked and it will feel like the seventh circle of hell.  When my friend came back to Erdenet with me last week, we had to switch places halfway through because he thought he was either going to strip down to his boxers or pass out from the heat.

Basically, what I’m saying is that you’ll need to dress strategically. Bus tutorial over.

So, Alona, Dao and I arrive in UB at 4 p.m. (6 hour ride from Erdenet.) Get our stuff and grab a cab to the Peace Corps office where we can drop our stuff while we meet our friends. Now, in UB you pay 500 tugruks per kilometer for a cab ride. We know this. We also know that many cab drivers will try to rip us off since we’re foreigners and shouldn’t know any better. So, you always want to look at the mileage on the car when you start out. And never store stuff in the trunk because there have been instances of holding possessions hostage for more money.

So, I meet my M20 friends in Granville Irish Pub (where they don’t serve Guinness beer and some of us think that the Irish Pub bit in the name should be removed). There’s a lot of hugging, eating and drinking for several hours while we all catch up on what’s been going on at our respective sites (see Facebook for pictures). The food, I have to say, is GLORIOUS! Salads that are real salads with real lettuce and spinach, it boggled the imagination.

My good friend Cameron (again, see Facebook if you want to put a face to the name) asked if I could do him a big favor that Saturday. See, I bought a red G-Mobile modem in Erdenet to use on my laptop in order to Skype my parents because it had the fastest speeds around. Unfortunately, several days after I bought it, they stopped shipping it from Korea or something (still have no idea). Well, the red modem is the ONLY modem in Mongolia that works with Mac computers. So, Cameron had been searching EVERYWHERE for a red one and when I told him I had one, he looked like he was going to cry. He asked me if we could switch (he would buy me one with an equal or greater speed if I would give him mine). I said “Sure” and off we went, with our old language teacher Oogii and Cassandra to what we thought would be a relatively simple transaction.


I don’t want to get into all of the details, because reliving it might make my head explode, but it turned into a 4 hour ordeal that made the Lord of the Rings quest look like a quick errand. Seriously. I thought I was going to see Frodo pop out behind a G-Mobile counter any minute. We did get the modems switched and now Cameron can talk to his family on Skype and I get to ask an equal sized favor of him in the future. A PC user saves a Mac user’s ass.

Next, Thanksgiving. We had to bring something to eat and I think next year I’ll just bring a big batch of deviled eggs because getting the stuff together for pasta salad was next to impossible on short notice. By this time, our M20 friends Brad and Aleta had joined the crew squatting at Molly’s apartment and, needless to say, it was crowded. Brad told us that he was ET-ing (Early Termination) because he still wasn’t feeling well after his Thailand hernia operation. We were all really sad about it, but we were determined to make him have as much fun as possible during his last days in Mongolia.

Unfortunately, after the longest cab ride in the history of the world, where the driver got lost and had to ask for directions from the car next to us, we arrived about 2 hours late to the PC Thanksgiving potluck. Oh, well. Fortunately, my friend Esayus made me a plate before all the food was gone so I did get to eat.

After celebrating Thanksgiving for approximately 2 days, we were off with our counterparts (co-workers who help us with things ranging from projects to figuring out how to work our showers) to our In Service Training. Well, we weren’t exactly off…we had to wait for a couple of hours at the PC office while they tracked down the bus that was supposed to be there at 8 in order to take us to the resort.

The resort was about 30 minutes outside UB and was in some great looking country. I mean, we never got to go outside during the day, so I’m saying it was great looking from my memory of arriving and leaving the resort…

So, we were there for 6 days with our CP’s working on planning projects, culture questions (why do Americans drink so much water? Why are Americans so obsessed with time?), language lessons and pretty good food. I’m not going to relive every detail of it here, but it was productive and at times, even fun. I also learned that I know fewer English grammar rules than most of the Mongolians there. I don’t know why something’s wrong, it just is.

Sooooo, we get back to UB and I just want to go home (Erdenet), sleep in my own bed, take a shower in my own bathroom and wash my clothes. It was weird feeling like I was homesick for my site—I guess I’m officially settled in now.

Now, this nowhere near covers all of the events or happenings during the last few weeks, so if you want to see some more coverage you can go to: 


Mark is a fellow CED M20 and Kara is a CYD.

As always, Enjoy Your Amenities! Love, Katie

‘The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.’


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * Kara says:

    Woohoo! Thanks for the shout out! 🙂
    (I only made it to 10:30 before getting bored and reading this…)

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 4 months ago
  2. * rob says:

    An Irish pub w/ no Guinness, Me thinks not. Sounds like everything is hectic I hope all is well. Love, Rob.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 4 months ago

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: