So we get on the ground here in UlaanBaatar (the ‘aa’ syllables get the accent), we meet with the team that has brought us in for concerts, have a briefing meeting, and head out to dinner.
Adam and I are going to catch a taxi with Oyuka and Odko, two women on the Mongolian team whose full names are lyrical and beautiful when they pronounce them, ungraceful when I say them, and awful to figure how how to spell. (Sorry, gals…)
Anyway, we go to catch a taxi. Now, I have been in some of the largest cities in the world (Seoul, New York, Istanbul, Cairo, etc) and catching a taxi is no big deal. But as we stand on the street corner, Oyuka starts waving at random cars driving by that don’t appear (by any standard) to be taxis.
And then, as though sensing our confusion, she looks knowingly at us and says, “In Mongolia, any car can be taxi”.
Yup. Random people will stop and pick you up, you throw them a few bucks, and off you go. And I am thinking, “In the U.S., any car can be murderer”. But in only a few moments, an old guy stopped and we got a ride. We even had to change taxis after getting stuck in one lane traffic and caught a taxi in the opposite, non-jammed direction.
Then, dinner. At, no kidding, a Mongolian Barbecue restaurant. And I thought it would just be called ‘Barbecue’ here (groan), but the sign said ‘Mongolian Barbecue’ in English. Big round grill, guy with big long knives and all. It wasn’t a BD’s like in the states, but it was pretty much the same.
Well, except that among the meats you could have them cook for you was… horse. Welcome to Mongolia!
So far, things have gone well. Our two-day layover in Seoul was fine, we were assessed no over-charges for the weight of our equipment and luggage, all of our instruments (and the ones we borrowed from the Korean Staff) arrived just fine, and we were able to gate-check or carry on many of them. Getting here went as smoothly as we could hope. The Mongolian staff has secured a great translator, and we got to talk a bit last night, so that’s a huge relief.
So, things are looking good. First concert today… will let you know how things go!