Natural Light in the Mongolian Ger

Do you see that thing in the background under the horse’s legs (click on pic to enlarge)? Do you have any guess what it is? It looks like a wagon wheel, like in the old pioneer days of the USA, and I was wondering myself. Here’s a closer look at it:

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Happy New Year! A list of things I appreciate!

It’s New Year’s Day. It’s a time when people reflect on the year gone by and set goals for the upcoming year. I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions- The idea of waiting for the end of the calendar year to change something about yourself our your life just never made sense to me. Time is measurable and New Year’s Day is just a mark on the long measuring stick of life……

I did however reflect on the year gone by. Going on the trip to Mongolia and other Asian countries helped me rediscover appreciation, so I made a list of things for which I have a new found appreciation! Like I said i don’t think I properly appreciated these simple things previously. Here it is:

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Spirituality, Religion and Superstition in Mongolia

I would describe the Mongolian people that I met as quite spiritual, with a close connection to nature, animals and the land. In this way I believe they are similar to the Native American tribes of the USA. I started to realize that all indigenous civilizations probably held similar beliefs.

Traditional Mongolian Horse Decoration
Horse Decor

I learned that horses are a national treasure and highly respected, some Mongolians are against mining (despite Mongolia’s rich natural resources) and have a deep and unbreakable connection to the nomadic way of life.

As I understand there is no official religion Mongolia, as can be understood given the great Socialist influence on the country from the former Soviet Union. In fact,many of the nomadic tribes across Central Asia saw their culture and traditions suppressed and some say ” destroyed” during the Stalin era of the Soviet union. This includes the prohibition of speaking native languages and practicing any form of religion or spirituality.

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The Merit of Natural Ingredients- Mongolian Diet

I lost ~ 6 lbs (2.7 kg) in 2 weeks while in Mongolia. Much of this had to do with the physical activity (work) every day, but also because of the good diet.

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With the exception of store bought bread, flour and condiments, I can’t remember anything we ate that wasn’t made from “scratch.” Even the flour was rolled out into dough to make noodles.

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Improvisation and re-purposing.

Just a short post.

As I mentioned earlier, the nomads are quite resourceful. Here they’ve used what looks like an old truck tire as a feeding trough. Maybe it is not a truck tire because I can’t understand how they could elongate/ straighten it out (without a lot of heat). I had plenty of questions like this while in the camp and without proper language skills no way to figure them out.

Any ideas? Please comment.

Plastics on the Mongolian steppe

“Every piece of plastic created is still on this planet in one form or another”

When you think about it, that statement is rather profound.  Before I left on my trip to Mongolia, I was very curious about what environmental condition I would observe on the steppe/outback/prairie several miles away from any city or urban infrastructure. Myself and generations of my family have been hobbyist fishermen, so preservation of the environment and natural resources have always been a cause of significance. Even as a kid,  I can remember being miles off the coast of California near the Farallon islands and seeing things like an aluminum can or plastic bag float by.

As an adult, my awareness grew after I learned of the great Pacific garbage patch near Guam and the Marianas:

The ocean currents carry much of the trash in the Pacific ocean to eventually accumulate in a patch the size of the state of Texas (268,597 mi²  or 69566303.6 hectare).

Even with the greatest efforts and current technology, the patch can not be cleaned up in our lifetime!

Dead bird with ingested plastics
Photographed near Midway Island (Chris Jordan).

Naturally, of course, the plastics enter the food chain. It is almost certain that you and I have some ppm (parts per million) of plastics in our body.

Chris Jordan is a professional photographer and environmentalist. See his trailer video for the project “Albatross” here.

Getting back to Mongolia, I quickly had my answer less than 24 hours “in country.”  The view from inside of the off-road vehicle on the way to the nomad camp revealed a variety of rubbish along the steppe:




Well as i mentioned in my earlier video “horse transport”, anywhere you find humans you’ll find plastics. Here’s the clip:

So in summary, in the”Land of the Eternal Blue Sky” ( which Mongolia is properly named by the way! 🙂  ) we still can see the effects of modern living and technology  through the spread of plastics.

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First Words of Mongolian

Just a quick post/ video here. I hadn’t really properly prepared in terms of learning some of the language before I left. I doubt it would have helped much. I was able to get by using a phrasebook that I bought on ebay for about $4.00 😛 and using body language. You can learn a lot about a people/culture when trying to communicate in their language.


The “Central Asian” knot

I remember sometimes my hands would be numb from the cold in the morning- so numb that I had some difficulty tying the knot to tether the horses after tracking them down. Durukh showed me a “Mongolian” knot that he insisted I used when tying up the livestock. He was also very adamant about never letting go of the horses tether rope when in hand. I can see why as on 1 or 2 occasions we had to spend 2 hours or so tracking down lost horses!

Here is the knot:

You reaction may be “big deal” right? Well there is some significance to the knot.

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Seeing ourselves in animals

In the same way that humans may abandon, give up their children for adoption for otherwise just refuse to acknowledge them, so do these animals.

We (humans) can see our own behavior in animals. Biology and psychology transcend the line between man and beast.

Listen to/Watch my video about forcing (goat) mothers to nurse their young:

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