Four Kingsmen in Mongolia

Four Wyvern warriors wake up in negative 36-degree Celsius weather, saddle up their ponies and trot off into the horizon.  Our time in Mongolia was an epic, up there with Bunning’s snags and watermelon heads at the cricket. In the next few paragraphs we would like to share our experiences in the Mongolian heath care system, touring the countryside and the stranger experiences we had.

We visited two hospitals, the first was in Baganuur, about 200km from the capital and a five-hour drive. Upon arrival, we checked into a hotel across from the hospital and greeted our contact, ‘Mr Boggie’. He was taking us for dinner and explained there would be no drinking, as alcohol is not sold on the 20th of the month.

On the 21st we started our medical elective. We shadowed doctors in the day and played sport in the evening. The Mongols love basketball. We ended up competing in interfaculty competition as the Australian representatives. James ‘Jimmy’ Van den Heever being the only Kingsman to have had any exposure to the sport whilst at college (trialled and didn’t make the team), was our offensive weapon. Towering over opposition and having gained a bit of bulk over the placement he helped us secure a silver medal in the competition of four. (see attached photos).

Thanks must be given at this point to King’s College and the KCSC for medical supplies and gear donated for the trip. Your contribution was greatly appreciated by the Director of Baganuur hospital, Dr Enkhbayr Tsamballegshid.

After two weeks, we made our way back to the capital to complete our placement at Khaan-Uul Hospital. One of the main focuses of our elective was to teach the doctors English. This was as part of our agreement with Medics to Mongolia, a branch of the charity Go-Help. The primary philosophy of Medics to Mongolia being to help build a continually improving and self-sustaining healthcare system. A bold goal that requires time, effort and money.  Being students we had an abundance of the first two. Daily classes commenced for the duration of our stay.

With placement complete we departed for the Kazakh region of Mongolia. This was perhaps the most fascinating segment of our two-month journey. We stayed with an eagle hunter, went ice-fishing, wolf hunting, saw our tour guide assault another man at dinner and listened to a mediocre throat singer (to be fair, a goat knocked his tooth out the week before). Horse riding was a common feature and again the cold followed.  By this stage of the trip we had sampled just about every part of every animal the Steppe had to offer.

Thanks to King’s for the support with the supplies and even more so for friendships that extend beyond college. To have lived, studied and now travelled together is blessing.

Travel tips:

  1. If you’re traveling to Mongolia – DO NOT go in winter. This cannot be emphasised enough. If you do go, take what you must to survive a day or two and buy your warm clothes there.
  2. If you are vegan and you’re in Mongolia, you’re probably going to starve.
  3. If you accidentally touch someone’s foot it is considered rude if you don’t shake their hand afterwards.

If anyone wants to have a look at the M2M project their website has all the relevant information.