Furin (Wind Chimes)

Furin (foo-reen) are those pleasant wind chimes that you often see made of a globe of glass with the bottom cut out. Often, you’ll have another piece of glass dangling below to bump against the orb, producing sound. They are a symbol of summer here in Japan, and I thought I’d take a little time […]

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There is a nice tradition here in Japan called Omiyage (oh-me-yah-gay), which is a gift that you bring back to coworkers, friends, and family upon returning from a trip. In the States, we have all manner of knick-knacks and chachkies that we can buy, but Japanese omiyage is a big industry, so the level of […]

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Mongolia Miscellany

I’ve encountered some interesting tidbits my two years in Mongolia, but some were not enough to stretch out into an entire post. Here’s a few bits of miscellaneous items I’ve learned about Mongolia and Mongolian culture. 1. There is a superstition that if silence befalls a group of friends or acquaintances, it means that a baby […]

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Crossing the Threshold

One of the more significant architectural choices I’ve noticed in Mongolia is having a prominent threshold in just about every building. Shops, homes, and most businesses with have a threshold that you will have to literally step over in order to enter the building. As it turns out, it’s more of a cultural expectation than […]

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No Name

Mongolians have many combinations for the names they choose, but sometimes, a name crops up that takes you by surprise. A Russian teacher at my school recently switched to teaching English, and I never noticed her name too often when I first got here, mainly because she didn’t work with me directly. Her name is […]

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The Year of The Snake

The Lunar New Year, in case you were unaware, is a big deal in Asia. Huge. In Mongolia, it is a particularly big deal. In the days leading up to the first night of Tsagaan Sar, or White Month, or Lunar New Year, you will see frantic housewives cleaning their homes, top to bottom. You […]

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Hedgehogs, Saws, and Doorways

  I never thought much of the artifacts above my door until my regional director came to visit. She was gathering her things, preparing to leave my apartment, when her gaze fell upon them. “Oh, you have the hedgehog,” she said. I was puzzled. I looked up and examined again what I had always thought […]

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There is a word for a particularly terrible winter in Mongolia: Zud (зуд). This word roughly translates to any of the following: disaster, blight, severe weather, or heavy snowfall. Needless to say, it’s not something many rejoice about upon hearing of its imminent arrival. Cue winter 2012-2013. This winter will be particularly gleaming, as many […]

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The End of The World

The end of the world hysteria, as I read not too long ago, seemed to be gripping the more paranoid around the world. The superstitious are citing all sorts of reasons why the world will end on 2012, and Mongolia has its fair share of doomsayers. One of my fellow Mongolia volunteers posted an interesting […]

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