"I got stared down by a naked plastic doll in a shopping mall in Ulaanbaatar."
Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator) must still be one of the most fascinating places I've ever visited, including their shopping malls that advertise with brands like H&M, but actually don't have one. They must mean some clothes that others have bought at H&M are (re-)sold in some of the smaller boutiques. But it was rare to see anything recognizable according to my North-Western European standards.
The only thing at that point that was recognizable was funnily enough the Cyrillic language. I had practiced it at home, perfected it in Russia, and even got to the point where I could understand menu's in restaurants: if I just pronounced the Cyrillic letters some food would follow that I knew. Like 'Pasta Bolognese', or 'Pizza', or 'Sushi'.
But the Cyrillic letters in Mongolia didn't help - at all. I pronounced the Cyrillic letters like I had done in Russia - but no words came out that had any meaning to me. I tried, I tried, I failed.
Such a different world.
But the naked plastic doll would probably think the same if I placed him in a Dutch shopping mall.