I had first heard Mongolian Khöömii (Harmonic Overtone Singing) in 1988 at a concert of Mongolian Music and Dance in London organised by Carole Pegg.
It had taken five years, a change of career, and a lot of bravery for me to get on the plane at Heathrow airport. After a horrible change at the awful Moscow airport, the crowded ‘aeroflop’ (aeroflot) plane chased towards the morning sun until I caught my first glimpse of Mongolia. A continuous undulation of hills/mountains, green, brown and grey. As we descended towards Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, I could just make out some white dots, which became Gers (Mongolian felt tents) and dirt tracks/roads all merging towards the city. We followed a river, banked steeply & then tracked a railway line, which I presumed was the Mongolian branch of the Trans Siberian Railway.
I was met at the airport by my hosts, in 1993 you needed an invite from an official body to get a Visa, I had met Arbis, Secretary of the Mongolia Union of Artists & Yangema his wife in London & they had invited me. They kindly provided me a flat in one of the drab block of flats that was only a 10 minute walk from the centre in the north east of the city.
I wished to get to the aimag (province) of Khovd in the west of Mongolia where Khöömii singing has a strong tradition. However there was quarantine for the plague! The British Embassy would furnish me with details as to when it had been lifted. Meanwhile I could explore UB as Ulaanbaatar is sometimes called.