493Re: Calling M-16 volunteers to Mongolia
- Apr 15, 2005Are just guessing about staging being in SF, or do you have some knowledge about it? Just
curious. SF would be SO convenient for me!
--- In Mongolia_2003@yahoogroups.com, "russianplane" <unlisted@s...> wrote:
> Hi Jenny,
> I'm an M-16, too. I'm out in San Francisco, so it seems likely that
> I'll be welcoming you all into my fair city for Staging. I was just
> writing my recruiter when your message came in. (I'm subscribed so
> they come to my email.) I was asking for contact info for another
> volunteer in San Francisco who is an M-16, too, to see what her plans
> and packing list were looking like. If I do get her info, I'll see if
> she'll post here her ideas.
> I've gone through all the posts on this site and there were a few good
> messages about packing -- what to bring and not what to bring. I've
> pasted one of the best below my sig.
> For preparation, I've got a big list going -- mostly clothes that I
> think will stand up to a good beating and still keep me warm. I'm
> planning on bringing an old laptop to use for music, etc, which I can
> then donate when I leave. I'm a music junkie and couldn't live
> without my music. It seems like we'll have electricity, as teachers
> in a fairly good-sized town. I'm assuming a lot there, based on the
> fact that we'll be teaching at High Schools or what-have-you.
> I'm trying to keep it simple and light, but I'm a minimalist in
> general. When I go hiking (3-5 days), my pack weighs in at about
> 20-25lbs, even snow camping. That said, it seems everyone overpacks
> and I'm sure I'll be wishing I'd left a ton of stuff at home. Jaime
> (below) suggests that you can get a lot of local stuff at good prices
> or ship stuff from home for use later. In my mind, I'd rather bring
> two large bags with me with all my stuff, rather than trust everything
> I want to bring to some foreign (or domestic for that matter) customs
> A friend of mine was Peace Corps Nepal and she's been following my
> preparations and has given me tons of good advice. She nixed the
> solar battery charger immediately, which some others on this message
> board recommended against, as well. I figure its gonna be a bit like
> living at home and a bit like camping, with more emphasis on the
> 'living at home' bit. Bring what you want, but bring only a few items
> of quality.
> I'd be interested in hearing about your teaching experience and if you
> have any ideas or plans for adapting your teaching to Mongolia.
> From: "jaimeforsyth" <jaimeforsyth@y...>
> Date: Thu Apr 17, 2003 5:01 am
> Subject: Just bring what makes you happy!
> Sain bain uu, Soon to be Peace Corps Volunteers,
> I'm an M13 here in Mongolia (i.e., from the 2002 PCV group) and have
> enjoyed reliving all the packing uncertainties I went through last
> year as I read through some of your emails. The best advice I got
> from a current volunteer, "Just bring what makes you happy."
> Other than that, the best advice I can contribute is: Don't spend a
> lot of money beforehand. It's more fun, less stressful, and much
> much much cheaper to buy things here (or have them custom-made) then
> it is to schlep everything here only to find out that you could have
> gotten something suitable here for a fraction of the price. Also, if
> you spent alot of cash on something in the States, you'll probably
> feel obligated to get it back to the US, too, and mailing from here
> is horribly expensive and carrying additional stuff is no fun either.
> With that said, I'll try to save you a few dollars and a few pounds
> of luggage:
> 1. Vitamins: Once you're sworn in, the PC will provide Centrivite
> multi-vitamins, Calcium supplements, Vitamin C/E/B6 and Iron
> supplements (and any other prescription drugs). Just bring enough of
> those for the summer.
> 2. Sunscreen/bug juice/moisture lotion: I think we got all of this
> in our med kits (when you first arrive)...Lubriderm moisture lotion,
> DEET bug lotion (you might want to bring your own), and a thick,
> greasy SPF 28 sunscreen (definitely bring your own). Caveat: This is
> from last year; things can always change.
> 3. School supplies: You can get notebooks, folders, pens, glue, post-
> its, markers, paper clips, all that kind of stuff in UB, if not in
> smaller aimags. The only thing that I haven't seen is good quality
> chalk, blackboard erasers, stapler, scissors. Also, the markers
> aren't the best quality. Still, who wants to haul all that stuff
> around? Bring what you can't live without and have a care package
> sent later if you really can't find it here. There are a few
> stationery/office supply stores in UB.
> 4. Seeds: ADRA (an NGO) provides free seeds (mostly vegies, not sure
> about herbs) and is conveniently located next to the PC office in
> UB. We just had a big distribution to all the PCVs that wanted them.
> 5. Wool tights: The women wear wool-like tights under skirts that
> can be picked up in any market for < $1.40. You can also get other
> (nicer) options for a little more money.
> 6. Pillow: If you're at all particular about what you sleep on,
> bring a pillow. Options here range from flat-as-a-pancake to the
> Rock of Gibraltar. I bought a travel pillow case and stuffed my down
> jacket in it for the summer, and that was fine, but was glad to have
> a 'real' pillow waiting for me in my 'winter' box in UB.
> 7. Summer (i.e., smaller) sleeping bag: unless you're planning on
> taking some backpacking trips, you might not want to bother; it's
> just one more thing to carry back and forth from the States, and one
> more expense. You can get fleece, cotton, or silk sleeping bag
> liners made for you here for a fraction of the cost. I haven't seen
> them, but I know they make sleeping bags here for really cheap and
> you could buy that or a quilt if you need extra warmth in winter.
> Recurring theme: You can get almost anything made here for cheap!
> One PCV just asked if I knew anyone who wanted to buy the sleeping
> bag that she had brought with her, as she was already worried about
> the hassle of bringing it back next year.
> 8. Coats/winter boots/accessories: You can get everything you need
> here; these people are the experts. Most of the PCVs have had local
> seamstresses whip together various types of coats or jackets for
> them, and there are plenty of hats, gloves, and scarves here.
> Typical examples (these are the low end typical)...Women's long, down
> coat: $14; Custom-made long, wool coat: $18-$27, fleece jacket with
> Mongolian designs: $14. (Even if a zipper breaks or seam gives out,
> you can have it repaired on the spot at a repair shop or by a local
> seamstress for about a buck.) Traditional Mongolian boots can be
> bought or custom-made for around $30-35, I think. One thing that I
> brought which worked better than a scarf at minus 40 was a neck
> gaiter (aka, neck warmer). As it's just some fleece stitched into a
> tube, which I'm sure can be made here, but you can probably pick one
> up cheap at this time of year...or make it yourself. If you have
> favorite gloves or mittens, I'd probably bring those, but you will
> certainly have alot to choose from here. (Note on the boots: If you
> know you have a problem with cold feet and want to take your chances
> with the high tech boots you can get in America, check out Baffin
> boots, www.baffin.com . After I was erroneously told that I wouldn't
> be able to get wos. size 9 shoes here, I bought a pair of Baffin
> Acadia boots online rated to -94 F (I wanna know who had to test
> them!), and they're relatively lightweight and were toasty at minus
> 45; and my feet get cold really easily.)
> 9. Great things to bring to your training site: Frisbee, hacky
> sack, deck of cards (Uno is good, too). You will make instant
> friends of every kid in the area when you bring out the Frisbee.
> 10. Watch batteries: They have watch repair shops all over the
> place, at least in UB. Because they usually last around 2 years, I
> just saved myself the hassle by replacing my battery right before I
> 11. Duct tape: So far, you can't buy it here, and it's infinitely
> 12. Photo album: Your host family and every other Mongolian you meet
> will love to see the pictures of your family and friends. They're
> more interested in people than scenery.
> 13. If you bring a sports magazine (with pictures of NBA players)
> and a teen magazine (with pictures of the latest pop princess...last
> year it was Britney Spears) you will make a teenager or ten very
> happy. (note: basketball is very popular here and most towns will
> have at least one basketball standard for the boys to play. Even
> poor people also often have satellite dishes, and are familiar with
> some NBA players. One little boy asked me if I knew Allen Iverson.)
> 14. Wire hangers: Easy to pack, and almost everyone's home in the
> US seems to have a bunch from the dry cleaner. Handy to have,
> especially since they bend into lots of different shapes for lots of
> different uses. Even furnished apartments don't seem to have many
> hangers to speak of, and in a ger, it's easy to bend them to hang
> anywhere. You can buy plastic hangers here if you need to.
> 15. Tupperware: Pack anything that needs protecting into tupperware
> containers. They're great to have afterwards for storage, especially
> since the cheap Chinese ones here aren't leakproof.
> 16. Toiletries/make-up: You can get everything you need here
> including American toothpaste and toothbrushes, and I'm starting to
> see floss occasionally. For women: they have all your cosmetic
> needs...all of them. They even have Revlon, Estee Lauder, and
> Clinique products if you don't want to try the Swedish or Korean
> brands. Tampax tampons are available, but they're more expensive
> 17. Dried fruit: I've seen raisins, apricots, and plums pretty
> 18. Food: I saw someone had a list of everything s/he would bring.
> Everything on the list can be found in UB ...maybe not every time you
> check, but on a sort of regular basis. There are times when we're
> out of Skippy/Jif peanut butter or macaroni and cheese or whatever;
> but you just learn to grab things when you see them, even if you
> don't need them at the moment. UB has a good selection of fresh
> fruits and vegetables all year round; it's more hit or miss in other
> 19. Plastic egg container: Only 1 volunteer seems to have found one
> of these in Mongolia, but since you get eggs piled in a plastic bag,
> it's a very handy thing to bring (from a camping store).
> 20. Plastic insulated mug and spoon: It was a hassle to find a
> spoon when you just wanted to have some noodles in your room, or to
> stir the ubiquitous "Coffee King". Having an insulated mug that was
> bigger than 6 oz. and had a handle in which your fingers actually
> fit, would be a nice thing, though not a necessity.
> 21. 1 liter, wide-mouth Nalgene bottle: It must be the unwritten
> rule, because I think every single PCV has one. Besides the obvious,
> they're also handy to use as measuring cups. I brought 2 for some
> reason, but really only needed one.
> 22. Solar battery re-charger: I have a brand-new, never been opened
> one that no one here seems to want to buy from me. One of the
> problems is where to put it where it can get 12 hours of sunlight
> (not that you have nearly that much in the winter) while you are
> away. If you have a ger, you don't have any windows either. The
> perception of one person who used one was that the batteries were
> never fully charged. You can buy an electric battery charger here
> that will charge 4 AA batteries in about 4 hours, and you can
> probably get that much electricity in one day even in the smallest
> soum (town); that is, unless the power's completely out, which it can
> be for a period of days every now and again. You can supplement by
> bringing a family-size box of batteries that you can draw on when you
> need to. You can buy Western quality batteries here for the regular
> retail price, i.e., not as cheap as from a US shopping warehouse.
> The Chinese ones available everywhere are terrible.
> 23. Laptops are great because it can be your journal, stereo, video
> game, and DVD player depending on what type you have. You can store
> all your CDs on it, and bring small battery operated speakers, or buy
> some here if you will have electricity in your site. Buy a padded,
> snug-fitting, zippered pouch to store it in; and ALWAYS keep it
> zipped up to protect it from all the dust here. I talked to someone
> living in a ger and he never had a problem due to the cold; he used
> coal during the coldest parts of the winter, which retains its heat
> much longer than wood. You can also buy small gel packs that can be
> heated and put in with the laptop (in the laptop's insulated bag) at
> night if you think it will be a problem. (I haven't had to test this
> theory) As far as theft: I brought a laptop lock which I've never
> used, but it's good to be concerned about theft. Some of the
> volunteers who have been victims of theft from their ger, never had a
> problem with their laptop, because in a small soum, you cannot
> possibly show up anywhere with a laptop without it being obvious that
> you took it from the volunteer. Most thefts were children stealing
> money or anything that looked cool and was small enough to hide. And
> if you don't live in a ger, you will probably have a good enough lock
> on your door that anything inside is safe. Yes, you have to be
> willing to accept risk if you bring it, but there are alot of long,
> winter nights to consider and I haven't yet heard of anyone who was
> sorry they brought it. Also, the PC has a technology initiative, so
> you could also use your laptop as a teaching tool and introduce your
> local Mongolian friends to the possibilities. While most are too
> poor to own one themselves, more and more are available in schools,
> internet cafes, or gov't sponsored student computer rooms. The PC is
> offering a computer workshop in a couple weeks for PCVs and one each
> of their community members who are interested in learning how to
> train other people on computer skills.
> 24. Heavy-duty ziploc bags are great for all sorts of things. For
> example, rice and sugar come in cheap, plastic bags that are easily
> 25. Books/magazines: Pack everything you could possibly want, or be
> willing to donate to the PC library, into boxes and ship to yourself
> at the PC office in UB via the "M bag". This is the slow boat to
> Mongolia, anywhere from 2-6 months but it's only $1/lb. It's only
> for printed material.
> 26. Musical instruments: Half a dozen of our group brought guitars
> or fiddles and I haven't heard any complaints and they were great to
> have around. If you have an expensive instrument, I'd keep it at
> home and find something cheaper to bring with you.
> 27. Dispelling rumors....No, you will not have to forage for wood,
> nor is it likely that you will have to chop it if you don't want to.
> Wood is so scarce in most of your communities that you will probably
> have coal at least in the winter, or maybe some will use dung at some
> point (really, it smells more like the vegetation it used to be than
> anything nasty). The few forests are being depleted so rapidly that
> it's illegal to cut the wood in most cases, though that law is
> thoroughly ignored; still, it's not a good precedent to set for the
> PC to have the volunteers illegally taking wood if you happen to live
> by one of the increasingly rare forests. The PC has arranged with
> all sites to have fuel and water supplied. In reality, some people
> get their water brought to them and some get it from the local well.
> (One volunteer joked that the only foraging he had to do was the
> verbal foraging to try to talk his director into having fuel
> delivered in a timely manner.)
> 28. If you need something desperately and don't have anyone to ship
> it to you; REI, LL Bean, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble will ship
> here. Amazon, for one, is great if your package doesn't arrive in a
> timely manner; they'll re-ship it for free.
> 29. Things I saw in emails or on lists that you don't need to bring:
> lighters (readily available because cigarettes are so cheap); hammock
> (unless you have other ideas besides stringing it between 2 non-
> existent trees); slippers (e.g., you can buy toasty wool felt ones
> here); extra bandannas (they have the same made-in-China ones here
> that we get in the US).
> 30. Most volunteers suggest that you bring socks and underwear,
> including a pair of good, silk long underwear from home; as the
> quality is not as good here for those kind of things or in the case
> of silk (or other high-tech fabric) long underwear, I haven't seen it
> here. Quick-drying hiking socks from EMS, REI, or any good outdoor
> store will be a good investment.
> 31. If you have a favorite hat with a big brim, bring it. The
> temperature got up to 110 degrees F one day last summer and the heat
> wave seemed to last for a really long month. Having a wet bandanna
> around your neck when it's that hot is also helpful.
> 32. No, there are no McDonald's here, but there is a little store
> that has a pretty accurate fake "7-11" sign. There was a fake
> McDonald's called "MonDonald's" (i.e., "MONgolian mcDONALD'S), but
> McDonald's attorneys got in touch and made them change it
> to "RonDonald's". Mongolians have never heard of McDonald's, so it
> was pretty much a waste of time.
> 33. SARS: Mongolia is being amazingly proactive in preventing the
> spread of the virus. New or possible cases are reported every day (I
> think we only have a couple confirmed), most of the population is
> wearing face masks (a very odd sight on the streets), the biggest
> open-air market in the country is closed indefinitely, public events
> are cancelled, all the bars and discos are closing at 10 (can't quite
> figure that one out), and all the buildings have their door handles
> wrapped with gauze soaked in some disinfectant, i.e., they're wet. I
> can't imagine that it would be able to spread to the point that we
> would get evacuated. (Cross your fingers)
> 34. Thermarest self-inflating air mattress: It's likely that you
> will have plenty of chances to sleep on floors, and if you mind, this
> is really comfortable to have and packs up pretty compactly. You can
> also buy the 'chair' accessory, made out of nylon, that will turn
> your mattress into a comfy floor chair, which is easily portable for
> travel. Even though I live in an apartment, this is my most
> comfortable chair (sad to say). The mattress is also my guest bed as
> most of us(all of us?)don't have an extra bed or maybe even an extra
> couch for guests.
> 35. It's hard or impossible to find good quality cotton t-shirts;
> bring them from home if you like to wear them.
> 36. Splurge on some good quality sunglasses with all the appropriate
> UV protection; there's alot of sun here!
> 37. If you get the same amount of paperwork that we did, it would be
> handy to bring a lightweight, durable folder with dividers to keep it
> all straight. You might be able to find something you like in UB,
> but you won't get there for shopping for some weeks after you arrive.
> 38. Hiking boots: You don't need really heavyweight boots, as
> you're mostly walking around on bare ground (or very uneven
> sidewalks),i.e., it's not particularly rugged, just a bit uneven,
> dirty, and often littered with broken glass. There are plenty of
> shoe repair shops if you wear something out or something breaks, as
> people can't easily afford to buy new things. In the winter, you'll
> be switching to insulated boots anyway. They also sell all sorts of
> variations of lighter weight hiking shoes/boots here (both cheap
> Chinese and Western quality).
> 39. Teva (or Teva-like) walking sandals: Best investment I made.
> Good for walking on rugged surfaces, wading across streams, hiking
> small mountains, and using sketchy-looking bath houses. And they're
> very lightweight.
> In general, pack for the summer as if you are going on an extended
> camping trip; i.e., pack light. Also, bring an extra duffle bag to
> carry all the extra stuff the PC will hand out during the summer:
> filters, books and folders mostly, and anything else you accumulate
> over the summer. Everything that you don't need for the summer can
> be sent directly to the PC in Ulaanbaatar, clearly labelled "Winter
> gear - leave in UB" or something like that, so you don't have to deal
> with it until you leave for your permanent site.
> I've rambled. Hope some of this was useful to you and will look
> forward to eventually meeting all of you this summer.
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