Not the best start

Babak and Claudia
Buyant Ukhaa
Claudia, in thought
Claudia laughing

While flipping through the pages of my Lonely Planet guide for Mongolia, I came accross a picture of my girlfriend. I'm not really sure if I had put it there myself, so I chose to believe she had, to surprise me. I loved it.

The plane we had, flying to Ulaan Baator from Moscow seated 7 people in each row and was filled for maybe two thirds. We had inflight movies and the food was good. The flight from Amsterdam to Moscow was on a small, completely booked, plane with bad food and no inflight shows. The trip to Moscow was with KLM, to Ulaan Baator with MIAT.
The only thing that worried me on the MIAT flight were the heavily shaking luggage compartments in the middle of the airplane during take off.

Reading through the guide, I was impressed by the cultural richness of Mongolia. The things we have to take into account when meeting people! Never touch another man's hat, sleep with your feet towards the door, don't whistle indoors.

Although the flights went relatively easy, not everything went as smoothly. Before flying out, I had visited the doctor's office at Schiphol for what I believed was a beginning ear infection. The doctor couldn't find anything but over the course of the day things did get worse, to the point where I couldn't even put my teeth together anymore because of too much pain in my right jaw. Luckily, now, some 12 hours after arrival, the pain is slowly subsiding.

We were welcomed at the airport by many women dressed in a uniform probably designed by a man with a fetish for dominatrixes. Dark green uniforms with short skirts and knee high boots with high heels. Lovely.
Less lovely, however, was the loss of my luggage. Claudia was stressed for her bicycle arriving (yes she brought a bike), but that arrived without a hassle. My backpack, complete with some 20 books, all my clothes, a laptop and, ohmygod, my cigars, never showed up on the luggage belt.
A clerk had me fill in a form after he told me that probably the bag would come in the next day. When I asked what would happen if the bag wouldn't arrive he said "I don't know, that has never happened". His remark didn't really assure me.

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After getting through customs, Hulan, our Geekcorps contact in Mongolia, was waiting for us at arrivals. She had come in with two other people, our contacts at the companies Claudia and I would be working with.
We were invited to breakfast at Millie's, which was good. What was less good was that at Claudia her company, apparantly no-one speaks English or German. The people at my company seem to know a small bit of English. How will it be possible to do a skills transfer smoothly then?

And on top of it all, my digital camera seems to have broken down.