Mongolia Panda

So one of my lovely Kiwi readers (have I told yow how sexy I think the New Zealand accent is?) from the Land of the Long White Cloud left the following comment on my previous blog poast:

this isn't really related, but can you post some more pics of your panda collection? the ones in the first photo of the post are soo cute :)

Well, I’ve always been one to please the people, so in your honour all the pictures on this poast will be re-enacted by pandas! Thanks for reading!

mongolia pandas!

So the other day I was idly clicking through my myspace when I see a message from KC somewhere along the lines of “hey I need a vacation. I’m gonna book some airplane tickets somewhere soon. Where should we go?”

To which I instinctively replied: “mongolia“.

Now I have wanted to go to Mongolia ever since I saw this random Julia Roberts documentary back in the day – I remember thinking it looked so wild, rugged and beautifully natural. But that having been said, I hadn’t actually looked into Mongolia seriously before, because I didn’t really think KC would want to go. In my experience people usually replied to an invitation to visit the land of Ghingis Kahn with something along the lines of “thanks, but I don’t want to die.

But KC is awesome for so many reasons and she demonstrates it once again when two days later I get an e-mail that reads:

Hey Panda!

So I was browsing the internet last night and kinda decided to book some tickets for us to Mongolia. I'm landing in Tokyo at the end of July, and we're off to Ulan Bator the next day! Hooray!


p.s. I hope we don't die.

After my initial grin at this unexpected happy news fades away, reality starts to set in. “Woah…. we’re going to Mongolia!” So I decide that now would be a prudent time to start looking into Mongolia, like, for real.

mongolia pandas!

So I fire up the internet and start reading.

And as my eyes scan the page, that little voice of doubt that has served my species so well starts to slowly nag and pull at the back of my mind….

Now I realise that in retrospect, it’s usually good practise to actually find out stuff about a country you’re visiting before you actually buy the tickets, but those of you who know me know that I’m not very big on procedure. However, I kinda wished I had read the following before we booked the tickets:

Monthly temperature variations of +45C to -55C are not uncommon in many regions of Mongolia.

(for my American readers: that’s a temperature variation of +113 to -67°Fahrenheit!)

mongolia pandas!

wait for it….


Outside the cities, the staple of the Mongolian diet is mutton. After a month in the countryside, you'll either never want to see a sheep again or you might find that you get used to meat as tough as leather and with large lumps of fat surprisingly quickly.

The boodog, or marmot barbecue, is particularly worth experiencing. For about 2000 tugrik, a nomad will head out with his rifle, shoot a marmot, and then cook it for you using hot stones.

The khorhog is also made of other meat, usually goat, and is similar to the khorhog with one major difference: the meat, vegetables, water and stones are cooked inside the skin of the animal. They skin it very carefully, and then tie off the holes at the legs and anus, put the food and hot stones inside, tie off the throat, and let it cook for about 30 minutes.

However, what really makes my level of alarm skyrocket through the roof is this little passage, tucked casually a few paragraphs down telling us “marmot” is one of the few things to eat in Mongolia:

mongolia pandas!

Well… I think the picture pretty much sums up my reaction to that unexpected revelation. For those of you who are not up to date on your “hey I was not aware that this extremely lethal pestilent disease is still around in the 21st century” trivia, the Bubonic Plague, aka “THE BLACK DEATH”, would be the disease that ravaged Europe during the dark ages and wiped out something like 2/3rds of the population in horrible “your skin turns black and sloughs off as boils devour your body” tormented agony.

Yeah… Panda isn’t even trying to be fucking around with no 12th century death plague, people.

I like how the paragraphs talking about the presence of bubonic plague in the food supply…! then calmly suggests “travelers get a rabies shot before coming.” RABIES SHOT!? Personally I’m more concerned about getting a BUBONIC PLAGUE SHOT!

I wonder if they even make a vaccine for the bubonic plague?

nurse: “Hi! Can I help you?”
panda: “Yes! Umm, I’m here for my bubonic plague shot?”
nurse: “Okay! Do you have an appointment?”
panda: “yup!”
nurse: “Okay, right this way to the Black Death and Lethal Pestilence ward, please.”

And in case someone out there still doesn’t get why I’m a little concerned, here is a picture illustrating the difference between normal happy panda, and distressed, caught-the-black-death-in-mongolia panda:

mongolia pandas!

*shakes head sadly* Like, before I was joking about it, but now it’s really starting to sink in that we might actually die over in the wild unforgiving windswept steppes… :(

Well that having been said, I am still super excited about going to Mongolia! There are so many things I want to try, and the array of choices are so staggering I wonder if we’ll be able to fit it all in even in 10 days? Ger camping! Horse back riding! (watching) Mongolian wrestling! Shooting (plague) marmosets! Nomadic wandering! The Gobi Desert! Jeep rides to the Russian border! Yak stampedes! Milk tea! Unspeakably beautiful unmarred wilderness vistas! Buddhist temples!

And really…. who could be a better person to go with than this lovely, lovely young lady?

Hahahaha…..haa…. Oh god.

We’re going to die.

Now listening to: “Bone Thugs n Harmony – Candy Paint”

Stomp it bash it with my 350 rocket, Cutlas
white on white it’s tight from bumper to bumper can’t touch this
For a little for juice i supercharge it
yea his rides tight but ain’t tight like mine cause
we workin on different dubs.

I swing my doors open, my doors open
my ni**as out in Cleveland swing them doors open, doors open
Big bumps, big bumps big trunks
Try to let off take it to the other side
lets get high, pimpin while i’m deep into my vibe

I’ma come with the cleanest I ain’t gon be seen
With these ni**as don’t know who the team is
I love that i breath with Swizz and Bone, ni**a that’s who we is
Whatever the purpose it’s Full Surface what chu call architects

to hard to check and if you don’t move we startin shit

77 Reactions

  1. felix

    I’m actually getting more and more excited for you about a visit to Mongolia.
    And yes, I actually, erm, remember (and admit) to watching that same Julia Roberts documentary where she is in pursuit of wild horses and kindly drinking fermented yak milk tea.
    Aside from this doc, history class, and other vague impressions floating from random travel magazine articles, I also vividly remember this fiction novel about textiles dealers pursuing priceless weavings in Ulan Bator and the desert. This made me consider (for 3 seconds) a career as a textiles dealer, where I would be sniffing old fabrics, determining what type of linen or yarn was used with what type of vegetable dye, and bringing it back to New York to sell at a considerable markup.
    Sigh. Back to my salaryman desk.

  2. lina

    that sounds like a great trip, I wouldn’t worry so much about plague anyway, it is a quite treatable disease, and for rabies well you can always get a vaccine.
    I’d worry about hepatitis and tetanus and getting bit by a horse… or being really cold, so go get vaccinated or check if your vaccines are up to date, get some cold weather gear and be wary of horses (and their evil eye)….. and have fun…

  3. andrew

    Yes you may catch the Plague in Mongolia, or (if you prefer what’s behind door number 2) you could board a plane for the U.S. and sit next to some clown with a virulent strain of Tuberculosis, who even our ever vigilant (clueless) Homeland Security people were looking for but missed.
    So another trip for you this year..How many vacations do you get each year?
    Where can I sign up to get your job?

  4. Kittos

    Dude!! Mongolia is beautiful. I’ve only been to Inner-Mongolia, but it’s nearly the same… right? Only thing is that Inner-Mongolia is part of the People’s republic of China. Go sleep in a yer, drink yak milk and see some Mongolian traditional dances! The nature is beautiful, so bring your DSLR with you!

  5. moritheil

    HahahahahAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s like a crescendo of comedy! That said, I’m truly impressed that you guys would go to a country on a whim.
    Your plague panda is awesome. Don’t die!

  6. Yi

    hey, thanks for reading my totally boring blog :P wow, your site sure does have a lot of content…i’m gonna need a few hours to peruse through it all ^^
    mongolia is going to be awesome! that’s one of the countries that i want to visit before i turn 30! although i’m turning 30 fairly soon so i better hurry :P
    PS: the pandas in the 2nd picture look like they’re doing it panda-style.

  7. coolnahalf

    i don’t think going to mongolia is that strange.
    but what the eff dude, you still listen to bone thugs and harmony?
    what is this, 1994?
    wake up. wake up. it’s the first of the mooooooooooonth.
    do you still wear cross colors too?
    hahahah. jk. i like mariah carey. so there!

  8. Pia

    Hey, Bone Thugs are making a comeback! Don’t hate.
    Your pandas are so adorable. I agree with Yi, though, those two in the second pic are definitely getting it on. I feel so dirty . . .
    I am so excited about your upcoming trip! Post lots and lots of pretty photos.

  9. monique

    michael, where have you been? thinking of you.

  10. yunnermeier

    You lucky panda! I’ve always wanted to go to Mongolia! It looks so beautiful and.. rough.
    Another thing I want to do.. the transsiberian railway:D
    Take care over there, okay?
    p/s: the camera I’m using is a shitty,lousy Olympus FE-5500 5 megapixel. Trust me, the view was much better in real life hahahaha

  11. lizb

    i was telling one of my friends about this the other day…i don’t remember why! i think ’cause we were watching the travel channel. you know, there used to be a sea world in ohio but then it got bought out by six flags and then cedar point bought them out. so its longggg gone :( i just want to go to sea world. but i mean, mongolia sounds exciting too!! :P no really it will be an exciting experience i bet and i can’t wait to hear all aboout it!!

  12. Chris

    Got your email – will respond accordingly. Hopefuly get to it tomorrow.

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