Sliding train doors

In the recent ‘I heart my friends‘ post, I posted a photo of me and Richard, some bloke I met on a train.

The story doesn’t end there.

When we were on the train, Richard told me he worked for the same mine that I do (I’m just normally based in the city) on a pretty specific part of the project that some of our friends work on. And that’s how I figured out he would know Craig. When we left the train, I of course told him that if he was ever passing through UB and wanted a drink at the Big Irish, then let me know! But I guess I didn’t think much more of it.

Anyway, two weeks ago I was down on site, and I went over to see Stripey Mike.

Stripey Mike works in the same area as Craig… which means… the same area as Richard! Completely unexpectedly (I didn’t know just how closely they all worked), I ran into Richard. And he greeted me with a huge hug (which sure did confuse the people around us!). Now, he had only met me once, on a train, and he greets me with a hug… I love this guy!

So I was a bit bummed to hear that he is retiring, and he’ll be leaving much sooner, rather than later. I mean good for Richard, but seriously, our friendship has just begun! From what I can gather, there’s a few other people in the Richard Fan Club that are also upset that he’ll be leaving.

As it happens, I was down on site while Richard was having his retirement / birthday party… and I received an invite! (ok, ok, so I found out about it, and I begged to have my name put on the door list. You’d do it too…)

What a guy! All the best Richard, and I hope life makes our paths cross again.

The ‘Richard Story’ is such an obvious ‘Sliding Doors’ moment. Life is pretty cool sometimes.

God save the Queen

So Queen Lizzie celebrated her diamond jubilee recently. So of course the Poms, Aussies and our Commonwealth cousins from Canadia and Seth Efricah got together to celebrate.

Pre-ball wardrobe malfunction... clearly Emma didn't look too concerned, champagne helps. But thank the Queen, Yvette had needle and thread.

Don't we look beautiful...

Queen Lizzie would have been so proud of us wearing tea cosies on our heads, right?

Stunning Sue, other wise known as Bombshell... for various reasons, depending on who you ask, but this night left no question: she was one hot tomale!

Ivan, are you saluting the Queen?

The guy on the right, Matt, is an American... there were a few of them there that night... which puzzled me... didn't they fight some war against the Monarchy? What's that, they were just there for the booze? Well sheesh, that practically makes them Australian!

Beer tent

You know the saying that there’s two things certain in life: death and taxes.

I actually prefer to say there’s three things certain in life: death, taxes, and if you go out drinking with Batbold and Craig you know that at some point, something, err, unexpected will happen.

On this particular night, we ended up in a massive beer tent with at least 500 Mongolians cheering on the opening of the EU soccer tournament thingy. I don’t even like soccer! But apparently Mongolians love it.

Just four friends, hanging out, having a beer - not so strange, right?

You could only buy beers that were bigger than my head...

... and they required two hands to drink them.

There was a very important looking journalist there...

... who was interviewing a very important looking man... oh yeah, that's the Mongolian Prime Minister.

Craig suddenly turned into a pro soccer player...

... me and Batbold, not so much.

To be fair, there’s been stranger nights out with these two guys. But walking into a beer tent with over 500 Mongolians, cheerleaders, rock bands, pop idols and the Mongolian Prime Minister and his entourage (including burly security guys)… it’s a little up there.

Happy Children’s Day!

For kids, Children’s Day in Mongolia is like Christmas in Australia. There’s presents and treats and very little sleep the night before in anticipation of the big day.

I had the privilege of going to an orphanage on the day. The kids were amazing. You know how I love a good concert? Well, I was in heaven, because these kids sang and danced their little hearts out for us – despite the rain.

I captured one of the dances on video. I hope you watch it through to the end, and that it makes you smile (and cry) as much as I did!

PS. The little girl with the short hair in this video stole my heart on the day!

A horse, of course!

So what do you buy your boss (who is not Mongolian, and has only recently arrived in the country) for his birthday?

A horse, of course!

No really, that’s what we got him.

My colleagues waiting for the boss to come and find his surprise!

Julie Veloo, the lady I want to be when I grow up AND the lady behind organising the horse

Me and Em looking very confused... really, we're buying our boss a horse for his birthday? like a real horse? like one he gets to keep? huh, that's pretty cool!

The horse, and his new owner.

I heart my friends

A couple of photos missing from the video of China were the ones of all of the wonderful friends I caught up with while travelling.

Not becuase they aren’t special enough.

Quite the contrary… I wanted to make a point of how happy I was to see them all.

Ian, my personal trainer from Beijing, and my infamous Shifu... yes, the guy who taught me how to use nunchuks!

As always, a treat catching up with Paul & Sandy

Oh Mrs Catchy, you always know how to make me smile!

Two of the prettiest girls I know - Heidi & Stefi

Brother Bayne! He really is my brother from another mother.

I even caught up with some friends from Mongolia, Batbold & Uyanga.

I made a new friend on the train, Richard. Turns out he knows a good friend of ours. Small world, eh? I've decided that '6 degrees of Kevin Bacon' is so last year, and you should try playing '6 degrees of Craig McBaron'.

One of the downsides of moving around so much is having to leave great friends. Of course, one of the plusses is I get to meet amazing people wherever I go. Oh, the cruel twist of irony and/or fate.

Touring China

Oh no, I’ve turned into one of those bloggers who lets their blog lapse. Shame on me.

So I went to China with Jilly in April. We took the train from UB to Beijing, spent a few days there, headed down to Guilin (add it to your bucket lists, people), shot over to Yichang, got the boat down the Yangtze to Chongqing, and then rounded off the trip in Hong Kong. What a trip!

Finally, I put together a video from the trip, so feel free to view it: