By Neil Pederson
i’m on the perch of two continents. i fly to Beijing to begin the Mongolia ’09 field excursion in a couple of hrs.
“Mongolia it is so exotic!”
indeed, it is. but, this is my 5th trip. so, while it is exotic, in a strange way, it feels like home, a second home. the Mongolians i work with are really great people. smart, hard-working, down-to-Earth and laid back [mostly]. for some reason my mind connects them to native Vermont-sters. in fact, Baatar and Sanaa both loved their visits to Vermont.
anyhow, after studying Mongolian customs and such, it feels like home when getting back in touch with the land and the people. so, in one sense, it is less of an exotic adventure as a return to home.
it will, however, be an adventure. we will be conducting research in a new part of the country for me. we will be working in a transect almost due north of Ulaanbaatar, the capitol [sometimes spelled Ulan Bator – check it on Google maps – their Mongolian coverage has increased significantly over the last 2 months]. we will be working from an area just north of where the Mongolian forest zone meets the Gobi Steppe up to the forests south of Siberi. in the northern forests I expect much more moist, dense and diverse forests versus the ones i’ve worked in in previous trips. that will be an adventure.
it will also be an adventure because i will be partnering with new colleagues, Amy Hessl & Peter Brown. i’ve known them both for a while. but, you do not get to know someone more fully until you spend days in jeeps in conditions that can be physically and, occasionally, culturally challenging while eating different foods. Peter & Amy are great – thoughtful, hard-working, smart….should be a blast.
the first part of the adventure begins soon. i fly from Newark to Beijing direct. i’ve done this trip once before. it is such an improvement versus my first trip, which took me from Newark to San Fran to Tokyo to Beijing in “one-trip”. It was 33 hrs door-to-door. this one should be about 15-16 hrs. tomorrow i will go up over Canada to the northern edge of North America and then south down eastern Asia. the scenes out the windows are really neat.
i think i’ve packed somewhat lightly given all the clothing and gear needed for all weather over the course of the next 28 days.