I just signed the agreement on the termination of my contract, and so am finally at the end of my work in Mongolia. My flight is booked back to the UK for the 4th September, so I find that I finally have some time to see a little of the country. In nine months I've only spent the odd night out of the capital, which has made me increasingly envious of all the merry back-packers passing through the city this summer - at last I can get to see some of the country myself.
Tonight or tomorrow morning the missus and I will be squeezing into a micro-bus and making the long, bumpy journey to Kharkhorin - Mongolia's ancient capital and part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape. We'll then be back in Ulaanbaatar again on Monday, to check in once more with the British Embassy on progress with my wife's visa application (impeccable service for the $1000 application fee - we can call in any time to be told "The Consul will look at your application when the Consul looks at it" in answer to our queries) and for me to meet my mother-in-law. We're then hoping for the three of us to be able to make a journey to the famously beautiful Lake Hovsgul (0.4% of the world's freshwater) region, where I am also hoping we can find and meet my wife's paternal grandfather, who is a shamanic priest.
The extremely talented Andrew Colwell (double bassist, flamenco guitarist, khoomei singer, morin khuur player, etc, etc) had a leaving do at New River Sounds on Sunday - he's flying back to the States today. In the last few months (since the demise of the jazz night at Mealody) he's been playing a great improv-based blend of sounds with two very talented Australians (Dave Lipson on didgeridoo and I-am-sorry-I-forget-but-will-rectify-ASAP on cello) and they gave a final show to a very appreciative audience. The band may be called Khimoor or something very like, and they have a self-made CD in the works - I'll see what I can do about posting a link or a snippet when it's done - because until you've heard the bass, cello, didj and khoomei in sweet harmony your ears have been missing something important.
Andrew had also sent out an invitation to the many musicians he's made the acquaintance of in his time here to come down and play a tune, so I took that opportunity to make my own farewell performance, and actually play into a microphone for the first time here, which is much easier on the vocal chords, but less easy on the audience's ears. Dragged out the Worried Man Blues and Dirty Old Town yet again, but also properly debuted my own actual self-penned song (to the borrowed tune of Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms) called I Don't Want to Work Anymore.
(Note to any of the potential employers back in the UK I have sent my CV to these last few weeks: please don't take that last song literally - of course I do very much want to work anymore and am just looking forward to my Well Earned Break, and using a bit of poetic license.)