When we were visiting Mongolia for the first time last August, we met an expat who told us there are two seasons in Mongolia: winter and July. Well, July is here, and summer is in full swing. The photo above is one of many flower beds planted around the central city, and there are new benches and sidewalk paintings as well. More people are out selling things, too, not just at the little tables that are out almost all year round, but kiosks selling ice cream and camping gear — summer stuff.
Mongolia’s biggest national holiday, Naadam, starts at the end of next week. I’ll write more about that later, when we actually get to see some events; for now, it’s enough to say that this is the beginning of the national vacation, similar to Europe in August. Only our two most junior staff will be working after next week, and the poor dears will just be organizing the files and answering the phone (if it rings). There’s a giddiness in the office now, way more joking around than usual, and it feels like the last few days of the school year. The husband reports that many men in his government office have stopped wearing jackets and ties and started wearing short-sleeved shirts to work. One of them is even wearing a baseball cap in the office! Around here it’s all flowery sundresses, sandals and two-hour lunch breaks.
The other common sight/street hazard is rain puddles. Big ones. This time of year, it rains for a little while most days. Most of Mongolia’s precipitation happens in July and August, and average total rainfall for these two months is 161 mm/6.3 inches, which is not much but enough to stress the stormwater drainage system. The photo below shows a typical scene: three kiosks and a puddle that was at 2/3 capacity when I took the photo. People place rocks and bricks to step across, which is fine if you can creep along against the wall of a building. There’s NO WAY I’m going to risk stepping through the middle.