Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Spent the Summer Solstice, June 22, on the summit of Bogd Khan Uul, the huge massif to the south of Ulaan Baatar. The 7380 foot summit is about 2900 feet above the city. I reached the summit from Manzshir Khiid on the south side of the mountain.

The crown of the mountain from the ridgeline to the west

Ovoos on the very top of the mountain

Ulaan Baatar, just visible in the valley beyond the trees

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Coffee cognoscenti are pleased to learn of a new coffee bar on the first floor of the Ulaan Baatar Hotel. I had a latte gigante but will reserve judgement until I have had a chance to sample the other offerings. The barista is certainly charming.

Summer officially arrived in Ulaan Baatar at 4:10 am June 22, as can be seen by the appearance of these palm trees near Sukhebaatar Square.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The media is in a frenzy over Nefertiti mummy; at least 26 stories in the last two hours; for example see Nefertiti Unwrapped? Looks Like It?.

Here's a shot of the mummy (at bottom, left). l'll take the statue any day.
All of you cheapskates (yes, Big Al, I mean you) who don't want to buy a copy of my book Travels in Northern Mongolia: you can Read an Excerpt Here for free!
I have been picking on Berlin, Germany lately, so it is only fair that I post a story from New York, New York. See Woman Kills Man with Her High-Heeled Shoe.
See "U.K. Scientist May Have Found Nefertiti Mummy"

Statue of Nefertiti in the Eygptian Museum in Berlin, Germany. For more photos see Egyptian Museum. Nefertiti, all of you Egyptologists are no doubt aware, was the wife of the solar-cultist Akhnaton: for a biography of Akhnaton see Son of the Sun: The Life and Philosophy of Akhnaton, King of Egypt by Savitri Devi. For an expose of Savitri Devi see Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth and Neo-Nazism by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Naraa's back in town! Had lunch with her today and heard about her adventures during a six month sojourn in the wilderness of Chicago. The best thing about the USA, she says, is the fried chicken.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Also, I am still plodding away at my Life of Zanabazar, although usually I give up writing for the summer when the temperature hits 80ºF like it did the other day. Anyhow, here is a photo of Zanabazar’s retreat and workshop in Ovorkhangai Aimag where he created many of his world-famous art works.
So what am I reading now, you have no doubt been wondering. Actually I am on a Crusades kick, the eleventh and twelfth century Crusades, not the current one, although what happened in the first series of Crusades provides a lot of food of thought on the latest sally by George “Hulegu” Bush. The classic work on the Crusades is A History of the Crusades: Volume 1, The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem by Steven Runciman. For another viewpoint see The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by my man Amin Maalouf, currently my favorite writer (more on him later). The parallels between the former Crusades and the Bush Crusade are astounding. We have the same conflicts between the Shiites and the Sunni, the same double deals with Moslem generals selling out their leaders, the same terrorist threat (Hassan Sabbah and the Assassins then, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda now); the same die-hard fundamentalists and scumbag opportunists on both sides then as now; in short, nothing whatsoever has changed, except perhaps that now there are lots of Moslem blog sites. Back in the twelfth century they used carrier pigeons. The mid-East Moslems, if I am not mistaken, invented the use of carrier pigeons. (I am sure some carrier pigeon expert – I know you're out there - will soon be firing off emails to correct me on this.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

For those depressed by the last story see This Will Make Your Day.
What is going on in Germany? They're at it yet again. See German Wife Gives Husband's Penis the Chop. It's a helleva world we live in when a guy can't go out for a beer and bratwurst without stumbling over a severed penis.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

This quote is about Iraq but it could be about Mongolia:

"'Americans only in the sky,' one man told me, grinning as a chopper rumbled overhead. 'No problem.' Down on the ground, meanwhile, the new imperial class are the NGOs. They shuttle across the globe, mingling with their own kind--other SUV users--and bringing with them the values of the mother country, or the mother bureaucracy. Like many imperialists, they're well-meaning: they see their charges as helpless and dependent, which happy condition has the benefit of justifying an ever-growing aid bureaucracy in perpetuity. It will be very destructive for Iraq if the tentativeness of the American administration in Baghdad allows the ambulance-chasers of the NGOs to sink their fangs into the country."

If you see some big SUV with tinted windows roaring around the streets of Ulaan Baatar you can be almost certain it belongs to some NGO involved in the poverty industry. If you want to see a dozen or so of these NGO SUVs assembled in one place try Millie's Cafe at lunchtime. For the whole story see Come On Over the Water's Lovely.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

I think today is the first day it went above 80ºF this year in Ulaan Baatar. Summer is here.