I am in Mongolia after 25.5 hours travel time from Washington DC, all of which was remarkably easy actually if you leave aside the 25.5 hours part of it. On the flight to Beijing I ended up sitting next to a musicologist on her way to a Fulbright year in Beijing, so the conversation was very interesting coming over.

Arriving in UB was pretty easy. Amazingly dark flight over the country until you reach the city. It definitely helps when someone picks you up here, which took the only potentially stressful part out of the trip I think. Flights into Ulaanbaatar land at near midnight so I did kind of wonder how it was all going to work. I drove through the city but it is pretty dark and I couldn't see much. I am staying at a Communist era hotel which has all of the charms of a Communist era hotel but it is clean and cheap and right in the city center, and has free internet.

I had six hours in the Beijing airport, which is appropriately massive and cool, with a nice green roof that I took some pictures of and will post sometime, although not air conditioned and pretty hot. I am carrying an instrument, which is a good conversation starter as usual, and it led a traveling businessman and guitar player English-named 'Erik' (actual name Lee Wei) who had travelled to Sweden and Norway to sell brass couplings and was on his way back to strike up a conversation. What he really loved was Guns n Roses. We talked about them for a long time, while he insisted I drink beer with him.

He then asked me a great question "what is liberty?" He said "we don't have liberty in China." Mostly he meant liberty to buy rock and roll cds and a Harley Davidson.

I will admit that I thought it was a little bit too perfect that someone was asking me to define liberty in my first conversation in China. But it is hard to complain if someone wants to buy you a beer on July 4 in the Beijing airport and talk about Guns n Roses and the concept of liberty.

I get my apartment tomorrow, have a talk to give on sustainability theory and traditional music on Tuesday, and thereafter get to enjoy the reality that I am in Mongolia. I will post when I can.

My talk, incidentally, is at the "red ger" in the Zanabazar Art museum. My first lecture in a ger, hopefully not my last.

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