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.
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.
The ground was covered with white crunchy snow, the air was cool and I could see my breath. It was 5 a.m. and our bus had just pulled into the station at Erlien, China. As I stepped off the bus a jeep driver approached me."You need jeep?" "Yes, I go to the border." "Okay, 20 RMB."