Bad Week for Mongolians and Storage Units
Jeeeeez, it's been all go here in Ulaanbaatar these past few days. First, a friend of mine is in the process of being deported after overstaying his visa for just 10 hours. This guy has been living here for 6 months, and he'll be leaving behind an apartment, a girlfriend and a highly paid job, and all because he forgot how many days were in November and thought he had an extra day to get to the border on a visa run.
The second problem is the pollution, which has to be seen to be believed. The half million people living in shacks and gers out in the ger districts around UB have to resort to burning anything flammable at this time of year to battle the -30 Celsius cold, and when you throw in the crap spewing from the city's 3 coal-fired power stations... well, the air gets a little thick. It's been suggested that breathing UB air in the winter is the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. What's worse, my Arizona-based friend Gregg had his flight home cancelled Saturday because the pollution was so thick around the airport that the incoming flight from Beijing was cancelled.
Not too big a problem, I thought, as the airlines will just reschedule him and put him on the next flight out, and in the meantime he can crash on our couch. The problem is that this delay means that he's missing two conventions in the US, the registration of his new non-profit (the date has been set in stone since the summer, and he needed to be there to sign the papers) and the lapsing of his Tuscon self storage contract.
So, because the corrupt as hell government here refuses to provide shelter and heat for the countryside refugees we have half a million folk with chattering teeth, big late fees on the storage unit for Gregg and the possibility that his non-profit status will be revoked, which would really hurt Mongolia.
So, yeah... bad week.