Host Visit
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 06/Nov/2009 08:35, 34 days ago
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Today we went on our host family stays. Following a quick stop at the corner store on the way to pick up some chocolates we went to meet our host families. I was staying with a teacher from the Bridge school, her husband who used to be a pilot and is now an inspector and their two children aged 13 and 18. They were incredibly nice and so welcoming to me. I had my first bus ride in Mongolia which was crazy, packed and insane. When I arrived we watched some judo as the Chinngis Khan judo World Cup was on in Ulaanbaatar and then we started making hoshur– meat pancakes. It was a fascinating process and they included me in all of it. The husband and wife worked together as a team in cooking and preparing food, it was really interesting to see the interactions. They let me roll out the pastry, and even do the footery pastry folding bit which I wasrubbish at and they had done around 30 in the time it took me to do 1!! Crazy! They were really delicious especially straight from the fat!Also the husband was very involved in the child raising and he was very hands on with the kids. This is a cultural thing as I have seen many men carrying children and looking after children in a very hands on way.After we had had lunch my language teacher, Oka, came around and helped to translate and also my host mothers sister, Nara, who spoke no English. They had a great conversation while I sat and listened and tried to follow something that was going on. Every so often Oka would speak in English and tell me the context of the conversation, such as they had found her a husband, and then I could follow a bit of what was going on. They were going to visit another teacher who was sick in hospital so they made Buuz (Meat dumplings) and Milky salty tea to take to her. So I then got to be involved in the buuz making process which was similar to hoshur in that I was able to do the most basic task– rolling them and dipping the bottoms in oil. This time they didn’t even let me do the footery pastry bit! Lol! I did get to try and left over ones and they were also very good, but Hoshur is definitely better!So the women left for the hospital and I was left with the husband watching judo. So we sat on the sofa for a couple of hours watching judo in Mongolian! Luckily I used to do judo so I could follow a little of what was going on. I did nearly fall asleep as I was absolutely exhausted but I stayed awake.When the mother returned and the children woke up from a nap they were a bit stuck with what to do with me. So after dinner of meat, potato and carrot soup they got out the children's games, cards and sheep knuckles! Apparently these things transcend all languages and so I got trounced by the whole family at a variety of Mongolian games. It was a fantastic evening and I really enjoyed it. They sent me to bed at 9.30 and told me not to get up until 10am! They must have thought I was exhausted! I was and I had a great sleep.On Sunday After I woke up a little early but didn’t dare get up before 10am! So I read a little bit of my book before getting up. When I did venture out of my room they placed about a ton of food in front of me. It started with biscuits and bread, then they cooked 6 eggs, 3 fried, 3 in an omelette and fried 6 slices of ham and half a plate of potatoes and they put them all in front of me! I assumed this was for everyone so after one egg and one slice of ham I put my fork down. They kept saying eat, eat, eat and I discovered all the food was for me. They kept saying how tall I was and therefore I must need more food! I was absolutely stuffed.So after 2 hours of TV watching– Mongolian movie, Up and a little of Benjamin Button, more food appeared. It was now lunch time! So they gave me two plates full of tsuivan, traditional Mongolian noodles! I was absolutely stuffed.In between all the food there was milky salty tea which wasn’t too bad, but I had to swap to black tea because I couldn’t take any more fullness! It was crazy!Then after lunch we moved back to judo and playing Mongolian chequers which is crazy but I worked out after a few goes and the father played me at proper chess which he tried to let me win and I couldn’t even see that so he gave up! Lol! I was able to draw a game of chequers with the little girl though which was a triumph.Then they started taking pictures so I started as well and we then exchanged presents, I gave them chocolates and some coins from the UK and Ireland, and they gave me an address book in English and a Mongolian song and dance CD! It was quite funny.It was nearly time to leave so after yet more Judo me and the mother left and got a mini bus which must have had around 35 people in it, all on top of each other. I have watched these contraptions all week and wondered how they get so many people in apparently it is just strength of will, just shove them in and sit on top of each other!And so back to the guest house, shared space and living on top of each other. It has been interesting to swap stories about host family experiences.