Kimchi noodles: not for people who hate spicy food!
After spending a night in a guesthouse in Ulaanbaatar, we headed south to the summer camp run by the Lotus Children's Centre. Lotus is a great organization and a great place to volunteer if you're planning a trip- they run a comfy and cheap guesthouse in UB that has showers and internet access if you're looking for a place to stay.
They also take care of some really cute kids.
I brought tons of beads, wire and elastic to make bracelets with them- Turkey is probably one of the best places in the world to find beads that are cute, sturdy and affordable in huge quantities. The company I bought them from is called Alp Boncuk, and they have an English-language website.
We had a lot of fun playing and doing projects with the kids- the language barrier wasn't actually much of an issue, though I eventually learned a couple of Mongolian words thanks to Miti-mah, the incredibly sweet girl in the photo above.
Didi, the woman who founded Lotus, tries to find jobs for ex-Lotus children in the guesthouse and cafe, and some of them also work as housemothers in the center, like this woman below.
Lotus children live in traditional Mongolian gers, which are moved to the countryside in summertime for the camp.
Unfortunately, the gers got a bit damp in the heavy rain we experienced during our stay, so some local men came to waterproof the gers by putting plastic under their fabric covers.
My time with Lotus was a hugely positive experience. I really enjoyed being with the children and meeting tons of wonderful people, from the housemothers to various volunteers, such as Susanne, a yoga teacher from Germany. She splits her time between Alaska and Hawaii, where she runs Abhyasa Yoga room.
Did I mention that the kids were hugely cute?