Actually, I did make it back from Asia, I've just been too busy to post here.

I've gotten enough emails from people wondering if I had fallen off of the planet that I realized I should put something up here. I saw many of my closest friends at Clifftop but not all. Worth it to miss much of Clifftop to have additional days in Asia... but still pretty rough to miss so much of Clifftop!

Right when I came back to Norfolk I discovered ( via a front page story) that I have the distinction of living right next to the most dangerous street in Norfolk. Home sweet home.

What's funny is that I never felt especially safe in Ulanbaatar, while the fact is that it's Norfolk that is deadly and evil.

I had this vague idea of waiting until I had time to organize my pictures but that is unlikely to happen really soon. But I'll put up a couple of critical things.

I did think it was important to put this image up here, but it requires a bit of explanation. In Suhbaatar Square (actually anywhere in Mongolia where more than one tourist is likely to appear) there are painters selling paintings. I don't know if all of them are actually painters, since there is a striking uniformity to the paintings everybody sells. I have a feeling that many of them are churned out in a single locale and then distributed via street sellers, but I could be wrong. All of the paintings are variations on the central Mongolian themes: horses, gers, camels, mountains.

My second day in Ulaanbaatar one guy who spoke some limited English showed me his paintings and as I was trying to get him to go away my phone rang and it was Milo telling me he was just entering the square. This was the first day we were meeting up. As he walked toward us, the painter said "Oh, you're meeting Milo." I was shocked, to say the least, and for a second wondered if Milo had some kind of elabaorate scam going. But this was before I learned that Milo knows close to every single person in Mongolia (and probably most of the Mongolian migrants to elsewhere to boot).

During my time in Mongolia, I kept seeing this same persistent painter since I had to walk through Suhbaatar every time I wanted to get anywhere. I saw him almost everyday. He never failed to try to sell me a painting. I told him that I would buy one if he panited me riding a horse and playing a morin khuur at the same time, with Chingiss Kahn riding alongside me. Thinking that these paintings were all made in Tourist Painting Factory #5 I figured it would never happen. Wrong.

The day before I left Milo told me that the painter had called him and was looking for me since the painting was ready. I walked over to the Square. He had painted it exactly as I asked, though he left out Chingiss. Apparently that was a bit much. He said "no Chingiss."

For some reason he painted me without a beard. And added long hair. But the weird thing is, the really really weird thing, is that this painting looks exactly like what I used to look like when I didn't have a beard and had long hair. here is the painting:

I have a nice picture of the painter holding it up in Suhbaatar but it is one my harddrive which is not with me at the moment, but I will post it sometime.

The other picture I thought I should really put here is of a donkey meat restaurant I saw in Beijing.

It is nothing to see the images of all of the incredible sights there from the Forbidden City, summer palace on down, of course, but I thought this was a bit more interesting.

I was wandering around in an area of the city where there are a lot of musical instrument shops and then noticed this restaurant sign with some donkeys on it.

I thought, that is an unusual image for a restaurant. But not if you are selling donkey meat. Helpfully, there was an English menu, so all of the English speaking donkey meat fans knew what to order. Hard to find a good donkey meat joint when you are traveling, know what I'm sayin?

Hard to say what was more enticing, the "fish soup donkey" or the inspired "Miscellaneous donkey soup". The latter was delicious.

Overall the food in Beijing was as incredible as you'd imagine. There was quite literally nothing on this earth that was not available, from insects on up the food chain. I did get to eat for-real 'Peking duck' and ate some really good and incredibly spicy crawfish and about the best sauteed spinach I've had. I saw on the menu, but didn't eat, fried duck heads or the plate of fried duck hearts. I did not partake of lamb testicles.


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