Even though it may not be your first guess and it is quite far on foot, Czech Republic has many common details with Mongolia. Be it formerly functional Karosa buses in Ulaanbaatar, or Mongolian students in Prague in the seventies. Never would I have guessed it possible to speak Czech and be understood in Mongolia. But all you need is to accept an invitation from the Czech Embassy, and to arrive at a yearly party of such students. And suddenly you find yourself drinking Becherovka with aged Mongolians who are amused by your beard.
The second amusing detail are Czech students in Ulaanbaatar. Boarding a plane without having a phone number or two of students of Mongolian studies would be a shame to say the least. Who else would tell you where to get a beer, where to eat, and which places to avoid? Adventuring through the black market alone just wouldn’t do the trick.
Now it gets interesting: the students know each other. You catch some names and they dwell in your head silently. Then you attend a reception at the Embassy; meet a Czech-Mongolian interpreter and her boyfriend. A year passes. Then you find yourself looking for a person who would help you with the language. An email to Mongolian studies and everyone around. You get a person and a month later you listen to rap and read manga. All because the world just spins by itself and they both live in Pilsen. I work on the language with him and it all just comes together (apart from the rap/manga situation, but that is a topic for next time).
Being faithful to my promise to share Mongolia with you, I want to emphasize the interpreter Klára Kočková. She also writes a blog, Khar shar, a black ox. The name comes from an animal that is used to pull wagons and also palace yurts, but that was a long time ago.
The moment I learned about her blog, I had to read it all. That should not be surprising. Some of it are experiences of a student in Mongolia, despite the cold and heat, other are translations of classic Mongolian literature. So if you are interested in Mongolian humour or Ode to Altai, waste no time.