James and I literally had just a few hours to explore Ulaan Baatar before having to go back to the hostel to get ready for an evening out. We briskly power walked to the main square, took pictures with Mongolian historical figures and kept our valuables extremely close. Although supposedly violent crime is low here, pick-pocketing is on the rise.
James and I wandered down a street, taking an occasional picture, when I noticed a huge red flag. A man started to stare at James and proceeded to point at him with this menacing look of disgust that yelled to me “I’m gonna get you.” The man was approximately 5’1’’ and if necessary, I probably could have wrestled him to the ground. Never the less, my fight of flight came into play when he started following us.
E: “James, that little guy is following us…”
J: “Should we stop and let him pass?”
E: “No… let’s… Take a look in this store!”
We jumped into a local store just as the man managed to approach James. The man knew he couldn’t follow us into the store, so he just yelled something in Mongolian at James, clapped his hands in a “damn it, so close” sort of fashion and walked away. I am not sure what he wanted, but I was proud of myself to have noticed a potential threat and thwarted it. Maybe I am part of the Survivor’s Club. More a little later on that amazing book that I just finished reading.
After successfully posting previous blog posts that I was unable to upload in communist Beijing, we got ready and went out of a night on the very small town. I got enough fashion tips by looking around during the day; turns out Mongolian women have a very awesome sense of style! A delightful departure from Beijing’s frump meets knock off designer clothes.
First we went to a brewery restaurant and ordered a beer. The place was called MB, the beer was amazing and the people were friendly. We proceeded to look for a dance club. We were more weary this time about traveling at night, fearing we would have a run in with xenophobic drunk, so I walked with a switch blade in my hand at all times. I would ocassionallly flash it in a typical East Lost Angeles fashion – figured it is in my blood, might as well utilize the fear factor.
The club was bumping Shakira’s “My hips don’t lie” and Will Smith’s “Getting Jiggy with it.” I broke it down, and might have scared some of the Mongolians there who have only ever seen good dancing on television. I can’t really tell you if I made friends or enemies that night. The men seemed to love it, because they all managed to leave their beers and join the circle that promptly emerged. I danced with one of the girls there and she seemed very happy. Another girl actually started a dance fight with me! We were circling and fist throwing and all that jazz you would see in movies like Step Up. Although at some point she decided she couldn’t beat me so she tried to carry me out of the circle. It was very strange – but in the end, I think we were friends because she was sad to see me run off when James and I had to make our midnight curfew. Unfortunately, the curfew was a lie and we could have stayed out later. We had to regain our strength for the journey to the Mongolian National Forest so I was happy I got to bed at a reasonable hour.