Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Hello again, my fine people.  Ulaanbaatar (aka Ulan Bator), Mongolia...   this was quite the experience... forget what we've seen in Korea... don't even start to compare... It would just not be fair to do so.    

The people here are not at all friendly, other than a young lady in a coffee shop/ Bistro kind of place.  There was little to no dialogue with the natives, other than the people at VW, who were also not all too friendly.  The facial expression of the people were often read by me as grumpy and rather reserved.  The friendly hello to a stranger while passing on the street was non-existing, even though I tried a time or two.  What's the reason?  Well, I am not quite sure.  Perhaps the following pictures give a clue:  (as always, click the pictures for larger view)

 I could go on and on with the pictures to show a rather depressing side of this huge city with its population of 1.5+ million.  All of Mongolia has about 2.4+ million people.  The concentration of people in Ulaanbaatar has greatly to do with the mining business.  Lots of mines with its newest addition of copper mining.  To me, visually, Ulaanbaatar reminded of images of East Germany and Russia.  One wonders why it all still looks like this after all this time.  It's not that there is no money... there is a lot of money in Ulaanbaatar:

You see tons of Hummers, as well as the Mercedes Jeeps (I know, they are not called Mercedes Jeeps, but you know what I mean).  Anyway, there is a lot of money on Mongolia's streets, but the infrastructure... well, you've seen the pictures.  Interesting enough, they allow a mix of left and right side steering.  So what you often see is this:

Look at the placement of the steering wheel
But, Ulaanbaatar has also interesting and traditional "stuff" to offer.  such as this:

Yeah... we've seen the guy.... Chinggis Khan (aka Ghenghis Khan)

 One can also have some fun around here ;-)
toss a ball towards the stack of empty cans ;-)

Russian Roulette on the street... should I stay or should I go now...?!

Mom gets to use the remote to drive the kid around.. not sure if that was such a good idea... those moms are not better with the remote than in a real car (sad to say, I know... I know)

Goof !!!
And they have food.... lots of lamb

AHHHHH>>> MUCH BETTER :-) it's the little things in life 

 The following picture was taken with Patrick in mind...  How amazing does that look, eh?
Quite the sky, yes????  (little speck in the sky is the moon... darn camera didn't capture it as wonderful as the eye did)

Next stop:  Kathmandu, Nepal....   we are leaving this Sunday.... be ready with your passport!!! until then... hugs, kisses and all that fun stuff

Seoul, South Korea

Good morning to you fine people......

          Finally, I get to write another Post.  It's been a couple of weeks since we've been in Seoul, but I couldn't get this blog done for multiple reasons.  Just be happy that it is finally happening!!!! ;-) (REMEMBER: as always, for a larger view, click on the pictures ;-)) 

We stayed  in Gangnam, and learned all about the Gangnam style.  Gangnam means "South of the River" and Gangnam can be understood as a Beverly Hills.  The people there are young and pretty and it seems that nobody falls out of fashion style there (except Julia and I... dumb foreigners).  They all have their Samsung phones at hand while strutting those designer cloths around.  I have to say, "Beauty" has become a different image for me in regards to faces.  There is something about young Asian faces that does describe Beauty... at least it does so for me now.  

 What I loved the most about South Korea were the people...  They are very friendly, and especially once they heard you say a couple of words in their language... i could only say thank you and say a formal greeting, but it made people smile and that's what counts. 

The food... wow.. the food.  That should be an entire Blog post series on its own, but I won't do it.  I have eaten sooooo much authentic Korean dishes now, but I have no clue what they were...  I learned to stay away from the spicy food though.  Koreans eat spicy dishes all day long.. makes me wonder about their esophagus and stomach lining.  I asked Kevin when Koreans introduce that spicy food to their children and he replied: "when they are about 5 years old".    Crazy!!!!   The eating never stops though.  Kevin explained that social meals are most important to Koreans and it is insulting to not honor that.  So, here is to more food:  

    The following pictures depict our trip to Gangon Province, a region in the mountains outside of Seoul.  It was rather beautiful and one could not have had any more "authenticity" then here.  It's a good thing that Julia can communicate in Korean other than just thank you and hello ;-)   

Always working

modern communication device ;-)

Super happy Julia

Only if you really really have to go

It was a wonderful experience to be in South Korea.  If I had to place a vote in regard to a location of the world's friendliest people, I would vote for Korea, even though I haven't seen all of the rest of the world.. right now, this is my top pick!!!!  The people always smile, when you show them that you are willing to speak their language and eat their food, they are super super friendly and the food is actually kinda awesome once you get over yourself of dissecting everything that's in your bowl ;-) Just eat it!!!! (yeah, that's how I got to eat a sea squirt... go ahead, google it ;-)  )

Next stop... Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia....