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Ellen Shapiro

Mongolia. Seriously. The Sequel.

49 posts in this topic

Ms. Shapiro do you have a tour company/ is that what you meant in the second paragraph of the money and food article???

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Awilda,

A tour company, no. I have taken groups as large as 12 to Nepal, I co-lead a Sierra Club trip along Oregon's Rogue River most years, and I'm often willing to put trips together for groups of people. But it's not my business and I don't make any money from it. To date, I've never even covered my own expenses. My profession is that I'm a writer and photographer, not a guide or travel agent. But when I get really far off the beaten path and I tell people about my travels I often get requests to put trips together--which I sometimes will do. When I'm really passionate about a place (like Nepal) I'm eager to share it with people and whatever I can do to get people to travel outside the mainstream, I do.


Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Steven, did you know that any of that awful stuff was happening at the time?  Or did you only find out once your fine lady was home safe?  Well, at least you had Momo to hug in times of fear.

Suzanne,

I don't tell Steven any of the really gory details until I get home. If I did, I think you'd find me handcuffed to the bed with only my right hand free to type posts on eGullet. I've been traveling alone on a shoestring to far-away places since I was 22 (when I traveled around the world by myself on my hard-earned babysitting money) so I've gotten pretty good at troubleshooting and looking after myself and others. I've found that while it's very tempting to report home (if there is even a way to do so) to family about the trials and tribulations I've encountered on my travels (in order to be comforted by the empathy of loved ones), I know that it’s also unfair because of the worry it will cause them in the long run (no way to contact me for weeks on end to follow up even if they want to). Generally speaking, there are always times of stress and even trouble on trips to far-away and off-the-beaten-track destinations, but heck, I wouldn’t have these entertaining stories to tell you if I didn’t go, would I?


Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Okay people, why does this post NOT have ten million or so responses?  :biggrin:......

You mean to say there are no French Restaurants in mongolia ? So how can we argue if Mongolians can learn from French techniques :smile:

On a serious note: Excellent TR (Trip Reports) I note that KE flies from ICN (Seoul) to Ulan Bator; so I could possibly earn miles If I chose to make a trip.


anil

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Ms Ellen; I am in awe as I read your accounts of your life and times. Thank you so much for your reports and incredible pictures. Awesome in the best sense of the word. Thank you again.

colestove

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Ellen,

thanks so much for this post.

The story and PICTURES !!!!!!!!!!!

I know there is only one God in this world,

but HE sure blesses you, and will continue doing so.


Edited by Peter B Wolf (log)

Peter

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Thanks, Ellen, for the memories. From one who grew up in Nigeria and Thailand (a majority of the early years up-country) early to mid 1960's, long before many of my haunts had been influenced by The West. We did, as you did, what you have to do.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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This is just a fantastic posting. Thank you so much for sharing.

I can't wait for the next installment!!

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Were you able to find any kosher restaurants there? I want to go but am a bit concerned about my dietary restrictions.

I know, I know. It's amusing just to think about the idea of a kosher restaurant in Mongolia, but I'll take the opportunity to point out a couple of things about world travel for those with dietary restrictions: It's definitely true that there's a point of restrictedness (is that a word?) at which it becomes supremely challenging to travel outside of places that really cater to you. But it can always be done if you're willing to form a group. I probably couldn't take one Hasidic Jew to Mongolia on a tour, because at that level of observance that person would be very particular about what knife has touched what product, and what bowl has been used for what, but if a group of 12 wanted to go I'm pretty certain that I could set it up--we'd have our own cook (as we did), vegetarian-only food (they'd have to eat a lot of noodles, and some mayonnaise too!), and other approved arrangements. At a lower level of observance, it becomes even easier in direct proportion to the lessening of restrictions: I can take strictly Conservative and even some Modern Orthodox Jews to Nepal, for example, as part of a mixed group because they tend to be satisfied with "no meat" as a sufficient level of kashruth so I can just tell the cook, "No meat." And, while I don't keep kosher, I did grow up in a kosher home, know the dietary laws, and still observe some of the practices of kashruth. And this has never been a problem for me traveling anywhere in the world--except maybe North Carolina. :laugh:

[edited for clarity]

You mean Chabad doesn't have an outpost in UB? :laugh::laugh:

Seriously, though....Ellen, I'm loving your writing. I can't wait for the next segment.


Edited by bloviatrix (log)

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Awilda, she has written about some:

Rogue River Lodges Food Diary

White Mountains AMC Lodges Food Journal

More of a joint effort, you'll find some writing by me, some writing by her, and a ton of her photos in our cross-country and cross-Canada trip diaries from last summer. Here's the master index

A little less rugged, Ellen's Whirlwind Vancouver Food Tour

A little closer to home, Ellen's reports on the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

Here's a little information about last year's Nepal trip. Too late for you to go along on this year's trip, but maybe next time . . .

Also, if you'd like to see a ton of photos of Nepal, go over to Ellen's personal site www.byellen.com and check these two links:

Faces of Nepal

A Walk Through Nepal

I'm sorry none of her magazine travel writing is available online. There's some great stuff by Ellen about Africa, Alaska, Nepal, and various other far-off destinations in Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine, but the online archive got ditched when Newsweek bought the magazine so the only way you can see that stuff is if you have the back issues. Likewise, Conde Nast's Concierge.com no longer maintains an archive of its "Off The Beaten Path" pieces, of which she wrote too many to list here.

As Ellen explained in the Rogue River pieces, it has only been as of this year that she has had a digital camera that can withstand the kinds of extremes that her trips involve and that possesses the battery, memory, and resolution capacities necessary to take enough images at a high enough quality level for potential magazine or newspaper use. While those older Nepal photos were taken as slides, and while we do have a slide scanner, there's just not the same level of convenience and immediacy when you have to deal with processing, selecting, and scanning slides. So, with her current equipment, maybe we'll be lucky enough to see a lot more stuff like this going forward.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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You mean Chabad doesn't have an outpost in UB?   :laugh:  :laugh:

Chabad (which, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is a major Orthodox Jewish organization with an ambitious world outreach program directed at Jews in some pretty remote regions) doesn't have an outpost in UB, but it wouldn't be terribly surprising if it did. Chabad has a strong program in Central Asia, including in Kazakhstan (which is just to the west of Mongolia) and Uzbekistan. There are Chabad centers in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong (one of these days maybe Ellen will tell us her unusual story about the Jewish community in Hong Kong, but not on this thread). You might also be surprised to learn that Chabad hosts the world's largest Passover seder in, of all places, Kathmandu. They even have a Chabad center in Vermont. :laugh:


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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As Ellen explained in the Rogue River pieces, it has only been as of this year that she has had a digital camera that can withstand the kinds of extremes that her trips involve and that possesses the battery, memory, and resolution capacities necessary to take enough images at a high enough quality level for potential magazine or newspaper use.

Fat Guy, what digital equipment does Ellen use? I didn't see specifics in those pieces or on her site - but did find a big gorgeous pic of bacon!

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The digital body I use is a Canon D60 SLR, which is part of the EOS system -- meaning it can take any Canon EOS lens from the film-camera series. I also schlep a lot of additional equipment -- half of what I carry on a trip can be camera stuff -- such as lenses (for deep in-country travel I rely mainly on the workhorse EF 50 mm F1.4 USM lens, and a 100-300/F4.5-5.6 EF USM Zoom for longer shots), strobes (two Canon 550EX Speedlites plus the ST E2 Wireless Controller), filters (circular polarizing, etc.), sometimes a tripod or monopod, cable release, lens-cleaning stuff, memory cards (on a 6 megapixel camera you need a few 1GB CF cards if you want to take 1000+ photos), high-capacity batteries (I definitely need to get one more of these; I wound up using a lot more juice than I thought I would, because everybody I photographed wanted to look at the photos on the camera's digital screen and that's a major drain on power -- I was fearful I'd run out towards the end of the trip but I made it home with 1/4 of my last battery remaining), film cameras as backup (this was a short trip so I only took one of my smaller Yashica T4 cameras, but on a longer trip I might take my Leica film SLR as well because, well, even if you find yourself in the middle of a war a Leica is still going to work just fine), film and batteries for those backup cameras, sometimes a few disposable cameras to give to people so they can take photos for me when I'm absent, and a special padded camera backpack to hold it all. Although, having looked over that somewhat daunting equipment list, I should emphasize that 90% of the shots one gets can usually be had with just the camera-body and a lens, and all that other stuff really just buys you 10% additional capability (an important 10% if you sell and exhibit photos, but not meaningful if you're shooting for personal use). And of course no matter how much gear you carry, you'll always bump into someone who's carrying twice as much!


Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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And, while I don't keep kosher, I did grow up in a kosher home, know the dietary laws, and still observe some of the practices of kashruth. And this has never been a problem for me traveling anywhere in the world--except maybe North Carolina.  :laugh:

Ahem.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Don't be ragging on North Cackalacky, now! :wink: Just because we're the second leading pork producing state in the country, we acknowledge only pork barbecue as being worthy, and we're the former home to the KKK -- this shouldn't lead one to conclude staying kosher is difficult here. Er, never mind.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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When Ellen and I travel together, we eat in all sorts of places, and her dietary restrictions are never a problem. It's more about attitude than about the actual restrictions. There's an unfortunate tendency for people with dietary restrictions (be they religious, health-related, moral, or, as is the case most of the time, just completely crazy) to think the world owes them some sort of compliance -- that their dietary restrictions and preferences occupy the highest rung of the ladder of moral considerations, higher than, oh, respect for other cultures, etiquette, and the like. That's a bad attitude for a traveler to have, because the farther afield you go in this world the more you have to get with the "when in Rome" program. But, for example, the North Carolina crack refers to the days we've spent with Varmint searching for barbecue in NC. Ellen doesn't eat pork. NC barbecue equals pork. But she has always come along for the ride, enjoyed the adventure, and indeed been an active participant.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Hell, the barbecue trips without Ellen would be like a barbecue sandwich without slaw or tea without sugar. It just wouldn't be complete.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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You mean Chabad doesn't have an outpost in UB?   :laugh:  :laugh:

Chabad (which, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, is a major Orthodox Jewish organization with an ambitious world outreach program directed at Jews in some pretty remote regions) doesn't have an outpost in UB, but it wouldn't be terribly surprising if it did. Chabad has a strong program in Central Asia, including in Kazakhstan (which is just to the west of Mongolia) and Uzbekistan. There are Chabad centers in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong (one of these days maybe Ellen will tell us her unusual story about the Jewish community in Hong Kong, but not on this thread). You might also be surprised to learn that Chabad hosts the world's largest Passover seder in, of all places, Kathmandu. They even have a Chabad center in Vermont. :laugh:

ever been to the jewish enclave in kaifeng? forget what province offhand, but it's right near the shaolin temple.


Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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A little closer to home, Ellen's reports on the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

Damn! I knew I shouldn't have looked at that thread before lunch! #%@*!

Sometimes good barbecue just makes me want to weep tears of joy, and I was tearing up just looking at those pictures and reading what Ellen and you posted.

Now if I can just get through the next couple of hours [stomach rumbles]...


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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I wonder if those old motorcycles have any value to collectors in the U.S.

Unless I am greatly mistaken, the motorcycles aren't really so ancient as they seem...I think they are Russian-made Urals, which themselves were copies of WWII-era BMW twin-cylinder motorcylces. If they ARE URals, the Urals are still being made and are actually being imported into the US at this time...someone even tried to ride one in the Iron Butt Association's Iron Butt Rally (11,000/11 days) in 2001.

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