It’s so cool to watch the changing of the seasons around here. In the past two weeks, the countryside and the city have both gone from a depressing brown to a vibrant green. We’ve been getting a little bit of rain, and that’s been the driving factor for the change. We haven’t seen snow for over a month now, so I’m convinced that summer is truly here. This is the first spring I’ve seen in a couple of years. It’s nice to watch the trees and flowers blooming, but it brings back a nemesis I hadn’t had to deal with in quite a while…seasonal allergies! I’ve spent the past week with a stopped up nose carrying tissues around everywhere I go. It’s a pain, and the wost part is that I don’t have access to the simple pills that would take care of it. It gives me a huge appreciation for our medical system back home.
The other day we got to experience an annual rite of spring in Ulaan Baator For up to five days, sections of the city will have their hot water turned off while crews perform maintenance on the pipes under the streets. About a week ago, all heating was turned off in the city for the summer, and we’d been told that that meant that they were getting ready to do the water work. Luckily enough of our group lives in different neighborhoods so that we can go over to each other’s apartments to take showers.
As a good bye to the winter, the local brewery sponsored a 10 mile hike thru the countryside last weekend. About 96 locals and ex-pats gathered for the 2nd annual Khan-Brau challenge. It took us about 5 hours to finish with a very leisurely pace thru the woods, as we hiked to the Manziin Kiir monastery on one of the city’s sacred mountain peaks. It was great to get back to the outdoors again! Babak had injured his knee the week before, so he couldn’t go. I met up with a group of Australian volunteers, and we started off. Most of them chose to take a conservative pace, but Josie and I decided that we wanted some exercise, so we headed off up the hills. We ended up having the trail mostly to ourselves, and were treated to some fantastic views of valleys and streams. When we finally got to the monastery, there was free beer and food, along with medals for everyone!