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Mongolia

I cried the day I had to leave China and fly back to my retail management job. I cried while I sat on the curb under the dark morning sky in Xi’an, waiting for a taxi. I cried when I boarded the plane in Beijing. I cried when I stood on the escalator in Calgary and realized that I was about to step back into a life filled with stress and exhaustion. I gave my heart to Asia.

  Student: "You have Justin Bieber on your iPod?" Me: "Umm, no. I don't listen to a lot of Pop music." Student "But he is very good, yes?" Me: "Oh yes, very good." That's the part where my Pinocchio nose would have sprouted and grown into a bloody forest. However, I was not in North America where my response would have been thick with sarcasm. I was in Mongolia. Thousands and thousands of miles away from mass media influences and public perceptions. In this way, Mongolia seems young and innocent. Untouched.

"It's hot in here. Why is it so hot in here?" I was distressed. After 5 glorious hours of sleeping on the train, I woke up sweating. Our cabin was hot! I'm talking bathing suit, sitting on the beach, sipping a drink from a coconut, hot. As I looked around, I discovered the source. There were shiny heaters under both seats, as well as the outer wall. That's 3 heaters in a cabin that was about 6' x 6'. I used my hand to grope the heater, hoping to find an on and off switch. Nothing. Next, I scoured the walls looking for a control panel. Nothing.

I just finished traveling with sadists. Poor Rachel. She looks like she's in so much pain. Actually, she'll be the first one to tell you that she is in a lot of pain! One of the downsides to taking a tour in Mongolia is that your guide and driver have learned most of their English and behaviors from other tourists. Although it can be humorous at times, it can also big a giant pain, literally! Our driver, Togo, didn't speak English. I think he understood the words yes, no and please. But I think he chose to ignore the word 'no'.

The very words, nomads and Mongolia, make my feet itch and my skin tingle with excitement. After all, it's what most of us think about when we think of Mongolia. It's one of those untouched countries. There is still purity and tradition there. Plus, you can brag to all your friends about being in Mongolia!

I've heard a lot about Florence Nightingale Syndrome, but never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would have to deal with it.

My last day in Mongolia was quiet. Most of my clothing was being laundered, so I sat around in my pajamas until almost 3 in the afternoon and tried to catch up on some writing, emails etc. As it was my last night in Ulaanbaatar and Mongolia, it was also party night. Which meant everyone in the hostel would be buying beers or vodka and we would be hanging out until the wee hours of the morning.

Cold and sniffling, I slowly woke up and looked around the room. Empty. I've had a 6-bed dorm all to myself for almost 5 days, 4 of which I have been sick. The beds are wood and the mattresses are just your basic sleeping bag mats. The sheets are too small and don't cover the mats, but the duvet is heavy and the pillow is soft. On a regular night, falling asleep comfortably can be a challenge, but on a drug-induced night, sleep comes a little easier. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the small amount of gravol and sudafed that I brought with me from Canada.