Monthly Archives: July 2011

Mongolians on Bananas (or, from old skool to kicking it in the modern era)

By Neil Pederson

We, Amy and me, have finally made it to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (UB) to start the 2011 field season. It was a long journey getting here. We went through China because I have a conference to attend after fieldwork in Xi’an, China. This made the purchasing of tickets easier and would give us time to work on the plane and in transit.

China is not the preferred path to get into Mongolia. That would be South Korea. This trip underscored that point. We flew Air China, which is a fine airline. But, with no outlets for power to run our laptops and no individual TV screens, this old-skool plane would test us by taking us back in time. We got some work done, slept a bit, saw a low-resolution Asian karate/kung-fu flick and slept. Continental or Korea Air are much better.

a 3D pan of the insides of an old-skool jet

The good thing about flying through China is that, for me, the airport is a marvel. It is huge, airy and just beautiful to stare at over Thai food while enduring jet buzz following a 12 hr trip. However, the wait ended up being much less comfortable – we pretty much spent too many hrs on the floor of the airport; there was no place to crash. China needs to rectify this! It is a lovely airport, though.

This year’s trip started in a way that last yr’s trip ended, but, in reality, how all trips to Mongolia should begin: meeting the panhandler of all panhandlers in Mongolia. Continue reading

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Mongolia coming up

By Neil Pederson

Another late-summer, another trip to Mongolia.

We are less than two weeks from our last expedition as a part of our current research project: Climate, Fire & Forest Ecology in Mongolia. Mongolia, as it always does, starts creeping into the back of my mind and emerging from my bones this time of year. A few weeks ago I woke and craved a hotdog for breakfast, which, as you can imagine, is an unusual thing for a typical American breakfast. However, when a Mongolian colleague stayed at my house for 3 months many years ago,  he ate some kind of sausage every day for breakfast. As I look towards my 7th trip to Mongolia, I get it. I understand this diet. It is still surprising, though, how this happened. How this craving came from nowhere as we moved into summer.

Despite this forewarning, Mongolia is almost on our “10-day clock‘ and I am a bit shocked. The trip seems to be arriving at light speed. With another heat wave spreading being forecast  across the US, the forecast of cooler temperatures in Mongolia, however, are extremely appealing.

A recurring theme on this blog is the pace at which things are changing in Mongolia, culturally and ecologically. We have begun diving into meteorological records over the past year as a part of our data analysis. We have heard from colleagues and the people we meet in the shops and cafes of Mongolia about the severe drought in Mongolia over the last decade. But, only upon  finally seeing the meteorological data of the 2000s can we comprehend the magnitude of what we have been told and what the trees are saying: It is getting dry! Continue reading