Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Visiting Erdenet

Trip to Erdenet

Erdenet roof lines and colors
MBM Hotel. Our trip to Erdenet started off in Darkhan thanks to three Service Center employees who stopped by the Young Single Adult conference near Shamaar by the banks of the Orkhan River, the longest river in Mongolia. We left our bedroll and a few other items at the camp for others to take back to Ulaanbaatar.

The best looking city in Mongolia

After our two hour ride over various shortcuts and washed out roads we finally hit pavement.  At the  MBM Hotel, we settled into a night of welcome relief from camping. The hot shower and modern conveniences were especially appreciated. The hotel was classy for a nominal price of $45 a night. In the morning we were served a complimentary “foreigner” breakfast of eggs, pancakes and ham. The Mongolians had their traditional rice and milk cereal.

Taxi ride. We had arranged for a taxi to take us to Erdenet – a two hour drive one way from Erdenet if you drove fast. We were overcharged but we took it as a learning experience. We can’t be smart all the time and in certain ways we were caught and had to pay double the normal rate.

Looking toward downtown Erdenet - cows rule

Our taxi driver drove fast and we arrived a little after noon. The drive was on a smooth paved highway much different than those surrounding UB. The views of the landscape were stunning but our driver was in such a hurry to make his money and return that we have no pictures. There will be a future opportunity.
Former church site - now the Gold Hotel

The Gold Hotel. In Erdenet, we met the senior couple, the Lamoreauxs, who serve there. We went out to eat to a Korean restaurant and then settled into our hotel, the Gold Hotel, almost the equivalent of the MBM in Darkhan but with better beds. The price was better, only $37 a night. We had a refrigerator and shopped at a nearby store for our food for the next two days.

The only drawback was the Karaoke Bar right under our room. The music and off key singing died down just before midnight. The second night they must have had some professional singers because the music was much better. We asked about this to another senior couple and he said that all the major hotels in Mongolia have Karaoke bars so it was unavoidable – except perhaps for the location of our room. 
Notice the Karaoke Bar sign at street level? We didn't.

We found out later that the Gold Hotel used to be the meeting place for the LDS Church in Erdenet twelve years ago when our daughter was there.  They now have a new chapel, the only church building in Erdenet.  When we got into the taxi all we had to say was “soom” (meaning church) and he knew right where to go.   
Beautiful building on the main street of Erdenet

Erdenet. Erdenet is the most modern City in Mongolia. It was built by the Russians in 1970s when they developed a copper mine in Erdenet. Most of the Russian mining employees are gone except for one or two apartment buildings filled with the remaining Russian employees.
Cultural Center in Erdenet

The main street is wide and the driving civilized. Crosswalks actually mean something and half of the drivers will actually stop. This makes things a little more complicated because the other half won’t. The sidewalks are wide and in good repair. Walking was unhurried, less congested and peaceful compared to UB.

There are skiing hills on two sides of Erdenet. The area reminded us of Rapid City SD with one part of town, the mine and power plant separated from the main residential and business area by a narrow gap. 
Sister Narantseteg and her new friends
Doing our duties. We met our main contact, Naratseteg and her translator, Erdenetseteg, at the church for three hours of productive training on the computer. Both sisters were delightful, friendly, and smart.

The next day we attended both branches and gave our talks in Sacrament meeting. We learned not to be chatty and to shorten up our talks because of the translation time. This was especially apparent when the Branch President in the first meeting started making a racket behind me when I wasn’t finishing on time. 
My new friends decorated my hair

The first Branch had about 50 in attendance – a low amount - and the second Branch had about 100. Normally the two Branches are equivalent.
Part of our training group

We had a good training experience. There were about 15 members who stayed after church for a two hour training on the computers. This training was a little ragged because we had so much difficulty signing members into new.familysearch.

The older members didn’t have e-mail addresses, so these had to be created. And then when we finally got all the forms filled in, several of the members received the “message” that there was already an account created with their membership record number.  Apparently someone had done it for them and they had no idea what was done.  We sent several help messages to new.familysearch and have since heard back on how to resolve their log in problems.

It was interesting to see how this was working out

We formed some great relationships and helped a few members overcome their difficulties. The Lamoreaux’s fed us and Erdenetseteg at their home after the meetings and training were concluded. 
Trainer in charge doing her thing
The train ride home. We caught a train that takes a 12 hour nighttime trip to go to UB. This time we shared our compartment with a young mother with two children age three and under. We offered a lower bunk to this little family while I slept on the top bunk.

Train ride home
It was enjoyable and we were able to learn a little Mongolian while helping her out in various ways. The little 3 year old boy threw up and Darlene helped the mother deal with it. At four in the morning she and her children got off and we were joined by two middle aged Mongolian men. They inherited the top bunks. One spoke in Russian and Darlene and he enjoyed some conversation.

Sister Oyun - our daughter's second companion in Erdenet celebrating her birthday at the YSA conference. She had just returned in April from Korea after living there for 8 years.

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