Old Friends, New Friends, Disappearing Friends

It has been a few weeks since I last wrote…I haven’t been busy with much but somehow the time has gone by and not a post in sight. We spent quite a bit of time recently saying our goodbyes to the new friends we made in the past year (most of whom came on one year contracts), welcoming an old friend for a visit (Chris’s high school friend, Jack, is in town for a while), and watching our friends disappear one by one.

I suppose it’s the nature of the ex-pat beast, but it’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. I mean, I’m not the type who collects and collects and collects friends. I would rather hang on tight to the ones I’ve got and keep them in my grasp for a long time. That doesn’t work here. It’s a constant cycle of meeting and saying goodbye. There’s always a “leaving do” (what people here call going away parties) or a welcoming party or a last whatever or a first something else. It’s constant. And it wears on me after a while I will freely admit. That said, it has been great having Jack around, as any connection to home feels so warm and welcoming in this foreign land.

Last weekend, we headed off on another kayaking adventure. This one was a quick bus ride then taxi away, and soon enough we found ourselves floating back to UB from Terelj, the National Park I always talk about. Chris figured it would be close to 30 miles floating, and he was just about right (I think we clocked in at just over 26 miles when all was said and done). The scenery was beautiful, the day peaceful and pristine. We managed to hop on a bus about thirty seconds before the sky opened up for an afternoon thunderstorm, so we counted our blessings and decided that the day could not have worked out any better than it did. Here’s a few photos from our journey:

We spent the rest of the weekend collecting supplies for the boys to head off on their grand adventure. They left on Monday morning, bright and early, and I won’t hear from them until the adventure is complete. When all is said and done, they should travel 190 miles(!) in their kayaks, then catch a train back to UB. In theory the first contact will be next Wednesday or Thursday…I hope! It’s lonely being all by myself again, but hopefully they will catch huge fish and have a wonderful trip. We’ll see! Here’s some preparations:

A mouse fly to catch really big fish with!

The food for their journey (to be supplemented with fish caught using mice flies of course).

And taping the map so as to waterproof it (smart boys they are):

And the crappiest part of the last couple weeks was that my favorite Mongolia friend, Becky, hopped on a train on Saturday morning to begin her next adventure: travels through China, Hong Kong and then on to Bali before heading home to the UK. It stunk to say goodbye, mainly because now there is no one left in this city who is willing to dress me up like this (she owns all of those clothes but does not tend to wear them in the same combination as seen below):

Or throw crackers in my face:

Or share cans of beans while traveling in confined places:

Or enjoy the same amount of laughter as me when the Russian van runs out of fuel for the second time in one night (Now, we walk.):

As I said, it stinks saying goodbye to the friends we have made this year, especially to the most wonderful one of all. We have a few more heading out in the coming weeks, and in theory a whole new batch will arrive soon, thereby continuing the cycle of firsts and lasts, old and new.

On a happy note, our one year anniversary of leaving home (August 11) is rapidly approaching, to be followed shortly thereafter by our one year anniversary of arriving in Mongolia (August 14 – remember Beijing swallowed us for about 30 hours on our way here?). It’s crazy to think that we’ve almost made a full trip around the sun…as much as time crept by at times, it really has flown. A full year in the land of Chinggis?! That’s crazy. Crazy but true.

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