Thursday, February 16, 2017

Things begin to Thaw

Sukhbaatar Square in early morning
I had opportunity this week to walk across Sukhbaatar Square as the sun was rising. I hadn't noticed before the lights draped over all the evergreen trees in front of the ice rink set up on the south side. The morning sky was fairly clear and it was nice to be out and walking first thing. It's gotten too warm for snow-pants, but I did wear long johns--which proved most necessary. 

I know it will seem strange to watch this brief video, but I have to share the joy I felt when I watched some things begin to thaw out this past weekend--even though we are yet degrees away from being above freezing. I guess with a lot of sunshine and temps in the mid 20s, things can begin to melt. In fact, outside our apartment building there is a HUGE sheet of ice to navigate around. Lord knows how long before it's warm enough for it all to evaporate. 

I snapped that video clip this past Saturday when I was out on a reconnaissance mission to find the Chinese embassy. Turns out I've been walking right past that embassy each time I've gone to the American Embassy. I just didn't know it. 

The early morning photo was taken on Wednesday when I went to the Chinese embassy to apply for a travel visa. I'm hoping to go to Shanghai soon for some training. I stood OUTSIDE for TWO HOURS! My toes were cold and my teeth were beginning to rattle. The 30 or 40 of us waiting out there in the freezing cold were tap-tap-tapping our feet, swaying back and forth, and hoping more than 5 minutes had passed since we last checked our phone. Whew. I think it WAS something like 5 degrees fahrenheit that morning.

As I'd been told by friends, if you don't get there early to get a good place in line, then you could be there all day. They are only open from 9:30 to Noon on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Their website says they open at 9:00. You have to know someone and/or look at the posted sign next to the SIDE entrance to the Embassy. I was third in line and out in less than 30 minutes--so I suppose the cold wait was worth it. I return next week to pick up my passport--assumedly with an approved travel visa inside. 

Yes, spring is in the air here. We'll be off the last couple days of the month to celebrate Tsagaan Sar--translates to the White Month--and otherwise known as the Mongolian Lunar New year. We'll be saying goodbye to the year of the monkey and moving into the year of the rooster. As you can see, we are in DOUBLE positive DIGITS for the next 10 days or more. This is in fahrenheit, of course. I still can't speak in Celsius. 

Tsagaan Sar, then International Women's Day, and before we know it, we'll be off on Spring Break which is the first week of April this year (too early IMHO). My summer break doesn't start until June 23, so there's plenty of work yet to do. But with the days getting only longer and warmer, you can feel it around the bend. 

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