The Curious Musings of an Anomaly in Mongolia

The Mongol Messenger
2017-07-27 14:06:20
Mongolia: A Mysterious Country for A Curious Mind

First of all let me get to this out of the way, I am an Asian-Australian. So, my appearance blends with the rest of the population of Mongolia but I am a true blue Aussie as they come. I would say I was perceived to be an anomaly by most Mongolians because I had this heavy Australian accent and laid back attitude and they were confused whether if I am actually one of them all or not.

I always wanted to be a journalist when I was young. The idea of a heroic, iron-clad inquisitor who seeks nothing but the truth and exposes the corruption was always been romantic to me when I was on training wheels. However, all that shattered when my super strict and pragmatic Asian parents decides to tell me that writing your idiosyncratic musings in a world-renowned newspaper such as the New York Times will not get you anywhere. (Well, they’re wrong because I work in the media industry back in Australia now.)

I almost gave up on my dream to be journalist—that lingering romanticised image of heroic journalist kept pulsating at the back of my mind, not until I find Projects Abroad and their journalism projects. I decided to re-live my childhood dream as a journalist and work to the rhythms of newsroom the moment when I pressed the “apply” button on the Project Abroad website.

Now, Why Mongolia? That was the question that left everyone’s lips when I told about my journalism project back in Australia. “Isn’t that like a barren wasteland where the tribes are nomadic and nothing really happens?”
“That’s a bit random—Mongolia.” A friend said bemusedly, “Why don’t you do your placement at a country more exciting such as Japan, Korea or China is more interesting too?”

Those insensitive responses prompted me to jokingly tell them—perhaps, I just gathered a few other odd countries such as Bolivia, Algeria, Romania, Togo into the mix of Mongolia and put them in a random generator and voila; Mongolia happen to one of them and I’m going out on a whim here.

In all seriousness, Mongolia has a certain mystique to the rest of the world—as a journalist, curiosity is a prerequisite. Although, information is abundant nowadays due the globalisation of the internet, nothing beat experiencing what a country at its core.

Although, the vast majority of my friends assume it may be a wasteland, circa 2009 technology, it is very rich in culture and one of the many countries which still has longstanding traditions. It is an endearing country where every step of the way and although, the rest of the world think it underdeveloped, it has a undeniable charm either through their language, the people, their everyday life and their architecture in general.

It was love at first sight when I landed at Chinggis Khaan airport.  The pungent smell of sheep wool lingered, unruly tattered walls, and stiff shiny floorboards all contributes to the charming aura of Mongolia. As I exited the oddly charming airport, I greeted with Zula who is my volunteer supervisor who picked me up and drove me to my host family; Erka and Saruul.  The first week is Ulaanbaatar, I realise it is a city of spontaneity and surprises. If you are methodical and orderly, you might get frustrated of this city just constantly throwing you unpredictable things in your way.  In one week, I have witnessed a heard of domesticated sheep crossing the road, three Mongolians pushing their car, a random birthday cake next bunch of bottles in supermarket and  a baby throwing ice cream out the window which I happen to miss.

Aside from the randomness of the place, one of the highlights during the week is witness a political event in which the new president of Mongolia, Battulga Khaltmaa who was honoured and welcomed by the commander in chief of the Armed Forces. It was a monumental event to stand by and watch as I never seen a lot of these kind of events in Australia. As I am sucker for the United Nations, there was a slight glimmer in my eye when I saw the peacemakers when they were marching through the Genghis Khan Square. It was rather a delightful event to go as it attracted all types of foreigners and locals in one area.

Overall, my first week of Mongolia was memorable as I leap from each moment to each moment with an open-mind. It helps if you are spontaneous and go with the flow when you are in this country. 

Jenny Hu
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