Bloomberg posted an illuminating article yesterday that broke down the current pollution issues. Guess what? Beijing can move over. Ulaanbaatar’s pollution has it beat–five times over.
Because it’s the Year of the Monkey, Mongolians have been predicting an extra cold, extra long winter. One of our coworkers said they are expecting four months of winter rather than three. (To me, it feels like winter lasts for six months anyway so…don’t listen to the expat who apparently doesn’t know these things. 😉 ) I’ve also heard that there might be an extra nine added to the “nine nines” of winter. What I’ve come to learn about Mongolian weather, however, is that you can never predict what might happen.
We’ve had snow on the ground for well over a month now, which has been nice in some ways. It’s kept the dust down, and the times that it’s been warm enough to snow has helped the air quality. The snow clears out the pollution for a couple of days before it gets bad again. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to stay indoors with Z more often than not. The pollution is so bad that one of the military hospitals is opening a wing for children with pneumonia because all of the other hospitals are full to overflowing. Even one of our teammate’s kids is recovering from pneumonia, and we are fortunate enough to live in a part of the city where the pollution is not so concentrated.
The pollution is so bad…that even Mongolians are wearing pollution masks, and that is an uncommon sight indeed. Usually, the only face masks we see people wearing are because they are sick (or vulnerable) and don’t want to pass on/catch others’ germs. So if you think of us, remember Mongolians this winter, especially those in Ulaanbaatar.
Yes, it’s October, but believe it or not, we had two snows last month. The most recent one happened on the 30th. Since then, we’ve been dodging either lakes (a.k.a. “puddles”) or swamps (a.k.a. muddy places on the sidewalks) on our commute to and from work. There have been a few times when we’re walking alongside the road with a giant puddle next to us and whoever is walking last will yell, “Bus!” and we all scramble as far from the road as we can in panic lest we get doused. It’s actually pretty entertaining. 🙂
I took some photos on our way to work on the 30th, so you can see some of the snow remnants as well as some of the sights from our normal commute. The other two guys in the photos are Hugh, our co-teacher, and one of our students from school who occasionally walks with us if the buses are too full or late.
The camel caravan sculpture that showed up over the summer.
This is one of the main intersections we cross on our way to work.
I am actively doing all that I can to avoid getting sick this year, so once I started smelling coal smoke in the air, the face mask came out.
This is the winter palace of the Bogd Khan. It’s a museum now, and we pass it every day. We still want to go visit!
The last stretch of our commute goes through a few alleys. The mountains were especially lovely with the snow dusting!
We have started updating our “resources” pages and have several books listed. The helpful websites page will probably take more time to update because it will be quite an undertaking. The internet is a font of helpful information!