Day 48: Ulaanbaatar , Contract killer

A spreadsheet of timesheet entries on the screen of my MacBook Air.
Time makes the wine.

Knuckling down to some CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, web stuff, work.

It feels different to start a project as a freelance contractor. There is a stark realisation that I’ll only be paid for the hours that I actually work.

I remember when contractors used to work in our office and how it felt like they were just a bit too serious and worked just a little too hard. They didn’t join the rest of us in goofing off.

And now I realise that, when you’re a full-time employee, you get paid simply for being there. And you get paid the same, regardless of whether you goof off, have a slow day, play football on company time, go biking in your holidays, or have a sick day due to a stomach bug. You just get paid.

The reason the contractors didn’t join us in goofing off was because, unlike everyone else there, they didn’t get paid to goof off. They only got paid when they didn’t.

Sticking with what works, I breakfast on banana porridge, sports drink and vegetable juice.

But what kept me regular yesterday is making me feel constipated today.

Then there’s more gas and more gurgling. I guess Google was right.

Mandarins, Health bread, boiled eggs, banana, yoghurt, vegetable juice, crackers. It’s a controlled diet, but I can’t limit it to only one or two things, I just like food too much.

I’m amazed that the food products are so similar to New Zealand. But I am shopping at an international supermarket. And I haven’t seen any Airag – not that I’ve been looking!

In the late afternoon, I head downtown to meet with Urnaa, a teacher from the Nom-Ekhe (opens new window) Mongolian language school for foreigners.

I’ve asked her to teach me basic Mongolian. The catch is that it has to be a crash course which can be delivered in under two-and-a-half weeks! That’s how long I have before I need to get back on my bike.

The 7km walk home takes me past Sukhbaatar Square. It feels great to shake things into place.

On the way home, I witness a near miss.

The cause: an uncovered manhole. Its pitch black maw gaping wide, it lies silently in wait in the centre of our street.

As a car passes over the hole, its front wheel thuds into the orifice. This is followed by a loud grinding noise as the underside of the chassis pounds into the unpaved surface.

The driver gets out and, thankfully, looks unharmed. But after spotting the hole, he then starts looking around for the real reason that he almost totalled himself. Unbelievable.