It’s like I visited Mongolia or something…

A wider shot than the original - so you can see the BIG BLUE SKY
A wider shot than the original – so you can see the BIG BLUE SKY

As you all know – I went to Mongolia for a vacation, recently, and I took a lot of pretty pictures.

But the thing is I actually took even more than the ones you’ve seen. So voila! Ils sont ici!

This is a photo story combined with random things I think you should know about Mongolia.

Rocks and sky. There's a story behind this rock. Ask me in person. Used a VSCO filter
Rocks and sky. There’s a story behind this rock. Ask me in person. Used a VSCO filter
Lightly edited shot in the countryside
Lightly edited shot in the countryside
Wide shot of the gyrs we stayed in
Wide shot of the gyrs we stayed in
Shot of the gyr! And my Dad looking badass. Used a VSCO filter
Shot of the gyr! And my Dad looking badass. Used a VSCO filter
That sky!
That sky!
Sky, sky, sky!
Sky, sky, sky!
Me and my father-in-law? I don't know what I'm supposed to call him, but father in Mongolian is "Ow" as in ow!
Me and my father-in-law? I don’t know what I’m supposed to call him, but father in Mongolian is “Ow” as in ow!
I took this shot after a 30 minute solitary hike/walk up a hill in the countryside while listening to 90s tunes. I needed to get away and I got great pictures!
I took this shot after a 30 minute solitary hike/walk up a hill in the countryside while listening to 90s tunes. I needed to get away and I got great pictures!

They are famous for their meat and their dairy. I don’t drink milk, but I did eat a lot of sheep, beef and more sheep. It was delicious. Top three things to eat in Mongolia, horshoo (deep fried meat dumpling), horhog (meat and vegetables cooked in a pressure cooker with the heat from freakishly hot pebbles) and barbecue (you know this). Try and get home-cooked versions of this. Like by making friends with locals.

Mongolian currency is Tugguruk – and it’s about USD1 to MGT1,900. Think about it like Korean won (if you’re familiar) and it’s close. Things in Mongolia aren’t that cheap – you’re looking at pricing similar to Singapore for food and clothing.

Parking lot at the Genghis Khan memorial
Parking lot at the Genghis Khan memorial
Genghis Khan - shot from below
Genghis Khan – shot from below
I don't know what I was trying to show. Maybe that the statue is really big?
I don’t know what I was trying to show. Maybe that the statue is really big?

People are really into Adidas. Like REALLY.

Mongolian sounds like a cross between Korean and Russian. It sounds especially Korean to me because of that one time, I lived in Korea…

The city was modeled after Soviet cities. Whatever that means.

View from the apartment in Ulaanbaatar
View from the apartment in Ulaanbaatar
Streets near the apartment in Ulaanbaatar
Streets near the apartment in Ulaanbaatar
Downtown Ulanbaatar
Downtown Ulanbaatar
Downtown Ulanbaatar
Downtown Ulanbaatar
Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar
Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar
Sukhbaatar Square - lightly edited
Sukhbaatar Square – lightly edited
Genghis Khan (of course) - processed with a VSCO filter
Genghis Khan (of course) in Sukhbaatar Square – processed with a VSCO filter
Genghis' bodyguards. I used a VSCO filter
Genghis’ bodyguards. I used a VSCO filter
Lightly edited shot from the Sukhbaatar Square. Lot of construction going on in Mongolia
Lightly edited shot from the Sukhbaatar Square. Lot of construction going on in Mongolia

Alcoholism is a problem.

Pick-pockets are everywhere. Keep you money stashed safely on your person and don’t flash your fancy shit around.

Summer doesn’t start till July/August.

Buddha statue and me! I used a VSCO filter
Buddha statue and me! I used a VSCO filter
Soviet WWII War Memorial on what used to be the highest hill in Mongolia. Processed with a VSCO filter
Soviet WWII War Memorial on what used to be the highest hill in Mongolia. Processed with a VSCO filter

The Mongolian alphabet is the Cyrillic alphabet – aka the Russian alphabet.

Good places to eat while in Ulaanbaatar:
Broadway – serves great Western and other food.
Jur Ur – the best chocolate tart I’ve eaten in my life came from this place. There’s either coconut or bits of heaven in the crust.
Korean food is generally great – so you can probably eat that anywhere.

The two best things in Mongolia are it’s BIG BLUE SKY and it’s people. They are straightforward, warm and hospitable.

As we sped to the airport my brother yelled, "Take a picture - that's UB!" This is that picture.
As we sped to the airport my brother yelled, “Take a picture – that’s UB!” This is that picture.

Holiday Burn-out

 The maximum I can spend on a holiday or retreat or any kind of getaway is about a week. This is usually because I get bored or tired of the vacation and want to get back to my real life.

While this might seem like a symptom of being perennially unable to switch off, I think this is an underreported symptom of vacationing that everyone feels – holiday burn-out. 

What exactly is holiday burn-out, you ask? It’s that feeling you get before, during and/or after a holiday when the fun or family time or leisure time isn’t enjoyable anymore. It’s just plain exhausting and stressful. And your 9 to 5 is starting to sound like a lot more fun than sunning yourself on the beach till you turn a flaky golden-brown.

So for me, I think part of the reason why I miss work and home, while I’m even on the funnest (real word TM DiniBlini) of vacations, is because I like routine. Another reason for this vacation intolerance could be that I actually find my life to be more interesting or exciting than a vacation.

Or maybe holiday burn-out is inevitable – we all feel it once we’ve passed that self-determined window of time that we allow ourselves to mentally check out. Mine just happens to be a week. 

I have friends who enjoy two, three or a month long vacations and I envy them. Is it that they really know how to live it up while on holiday or is it that I just haven’t found a place or time or experience worth missing real life for?

Secret Vacation Behavior 

you know what I’m talking about

As you all know from my steady stream of pictures from the past few days, I’m in Mongolia and I’m on vacation. While I don’t quite have the time nor the desktop for a full holiday/travel post, I would like to share a short list of of “secret” behaviors I engage in while on vacation. 

1. I try not to wear make-up because chances are you’re traveling with people you’re not trying to impress and the people at your destination have no idea that you could look better. So my skin gets a break, I feel stupidly feminist AND I don’t have to pack all them products. And for that last fancy dinner when I do put make-up on, I can always count on a few “Ooh, you look so good,” and that’s always nice. 

2. Whenever free/ when confronted with good lighting I engage in hair removal. Let’s face it, when on vacay there’s always some free time. Instead of spending it on my phone or reading (because really, who needs that), I choose to wax and pluck whatever hairs have gone astray. Waxing is especially good to do when you’re visiting cold places (Let the hair grow baby! And then when you’re back home you’re all booty short ready) and tweezing is great to do on beach vacations when you’re chilling on your villa patio (or whatever) and the great lighting allows you to pick up ALL the stray hairs.

3. I try to workout. Vacations are funny, amazing, rejuvenating adventures which can, whether we like to admit it or not, throw our bodies out of whack. Whether it’s the under sleeping, overeating or constant imbibing – sometimes it can leave a person worse for the wear. I like to get a couple of yoga sessions in (save the sessions on my tablet and practice wherever) and walk a lot and uphill (upwards of 10,000 steps), if running isn’t an option. I’ve heard of people who run through the cities they are visiting as some kind of workout/sightseeing combo. One day I hope to be as hip and European as them.

And I of course eat all the chocolate and carbs I can find. But I think that might not be such a big secret.

Fighting Flight

  

As I write this, the seatbelt sign has been turned on and I’m bracing myself, albeit more lightly than I usually do, for turbulence on my recent flight from Incheon to Ulanbaatar.

Ok I confess I had to stop writing and watch Chappie to distract myself – which incidentally – is a fantastic movie.

The fear of flying is something I developed about a year ago. I think it was a result of me flying every month and not being able to control the fact that I had to.

Which leads me back to why I am, or most people are, afraid of flying. It’s the complete and utter lack of control you have over the plane. I mean I know it’s the same when you’re a passenger in a car, bus or train, but when you’re in a plane your feet are nowhere near the ground – and I think that’s some freaky shit.

We worry what would happen should the worst happen. What happens to our families, the future we had wanted so badly for ourself or worse still – in those final moments that we really can’t control.

Which makes me think that maybe it’s not at all about flying. It’s about not having control. But the truth is we have very little control whether in flight. Or in life.

If we could accept this maybe the outcome wouldn’t be so scary. Or as scary.

Still I would like to propose a few practical solutions to this conundrum:

1. Deep breathing.

2. Alcohol.

3. Life insurance. Lotsssss of it 😝

Dancing Queens and Kings

I recently attended what can only be described as a fairy-tale wedding in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India. My close friends from Singapore got married and a bunch of us that they had met in Singapore were recruited to represent the tiny island state. Many video tutorials, share across the world, later and one practice in a huge-ass hotel room resulted in a crazy fun, awesome dance that everyone REALLY enjoyed.

That’s me making the speech in the beginning – or if you wanna go straight to the dance it starts at 2:06.

Hope you enjoy it!