I forgot to mention the night before I had a real Mongolian treat of Khuushuur, which is similar to what we know as a Piroshki.
Minced horse meat Khuushuur
Yes, the caption says “horse meat”! If your response is “yuk” read my post regarding cultural relativism.
Anyway, I woke up physically sore as hell! In addition it was incredibly cold and windy even for the nomads today. I told my hosts Durukh and Biyambah I was fine, but they wanted me to take it easy today and help near the Ger.
So I mostly just helped with the sheep and goat sorting today. The nomads have the uncanny ability to recognize their livestock. I could see no distinct brands or markings other than the colored horns, yet they were able to match goats and sheep with their respective offspring to ensure the offspring were being fed/weened.
I talk about the work here. The vid was actually taken on the (warmer) day before. I was however mistaken/misunderstood about moving the GER which they didn’t do while I was there.
As always, thanks again for reading and I hope you’re finding the posts interesting. I should have some pretty cool GoPro video of herding on horseback in my next post so stay tuned!
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The night before (and every night afterward) we had to “hobble” the horses. This means binding three of the horses legs together so that they can roam around looking for vegetation to graze, yet not roam away too far. This is because vegetation is scarce. The horses do not get supplemental feed. They cannot be corralled and must be able to roam somewhat to search for good grazing area.
Mongolian “Chodur” or Horse Hobble.
So this morning started off tracking down the horses. It took us between 1.5and 2.0 hours to locate the horses.
I finally arrived in Ulan Bator on April 7 around 1:00AM. My host Altai and her brother were patiently waiting for me at the airport. We proceeded to her parents apartment where we spent what was left of the night. As a spoiled Californian I have to say the weather was SUPER cold (35 F, or 2 C approximately).
During the Cold War (the 1980’s when I was a kid), we were overwhelmed with negative images of the Soviet Union as being a kind of gloomy and unhappy place. Mind you we were not in the former Soviet Union, yet it’s former influence was clearly present. The buildings seemed to be built strictly for functionality with very little aesthetics. Perhaps this is only true for the portion of the city where I had visited.
The missions for the next morning were to purchase:
Warm traditional Mongol herder hat.
Mongolian currency (the Turgik)
We headed over to the Narantul market:
I was expecting to get the handmade boots and hat on the spot but settled for the pre-made ones due to time and convenience.
I was lucky to find the traditional nomad cap. The winter had passed and the warm fur hats were scarce. Apologies to all animal rights activists:
The hat is made of fox. Mongolian people are very close to the land and nature in a way the Native Americans are. They see nothing wrong with using animal products to keep warm (which is a really good idea when it’s sub-zero F!)
The hat was so nice I didn’t want to use it and had a baseball cap with keffiyah that you’ll see in most of the other videos.
After changing currency and buying a sim card (with Altai’s help) we headed out to the nomad camp. I was curious to see if plastics were in abundance in the Mongolian countryside. I didn’t need to wait to get to the camp to find out though as the trash and plastics were visible from the roadside even two hours out of Ulan Bator.
I finally made it to the camp and met my hosts Durukh (sp?) and Biyamba (sp?) The day was more than half over but we still managed to test my horsemanship and did what would come to be the routine goat sorting (matching mothers with their offspring) at night. This might sum it up:
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I’m sitting in Ulan Bator AIrport right now to start the next leg of my adventure which will be to vist my friend Bashir’s gym in Lahore, Pakistan. Bashir Ahmed is considered the grandfather of MMA in Pakistan and is a ONE FC fighter.
Just a quick catchup. The flight from SFO to Beijing was nothing special. The transfer process at the airport is very confusing and the language difficulty made it a bit harder.
Hey friends! Thanks for following and reading! I’m officially back online and just finished an incredible 2 weeks at the nomad camp about 3 hours outside of Ulan Bator. I’m back where I can get a decent signal now and will be “catching up” the posts.
At the San Francisco International Airport now. I’m glad to make it through security with no secondary check or unpacking! My backpack is completely stuffed and I’m hoping they don’t make me check it in at boarding even though it is of official carry-on size.
I made this quick video about what I’m doing at the airport. I shot with my cell phone because It would be a great effort to get the tripod and camera out of the bag and then repack! Hopefully the lighting and audio are ok!
It’s ironic that I mentioned withdrawl from electronic devices, yet I’m using this blog to communicate with you all!
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Enjoy, Take Care, and Hopefully can I can post again soon!
Well all packed up and ready to go! Just a few hours away and I’m on my way to Beijing and finally Ulan Bator, Mongolia. It took a few times, but I was able to fit everything into the 40L (40 Liter) backpack. The biggest and heaviest thing was definitely the camera tripod. I’ve also got a lot of camera accessories that I most likely will not use, but want to have just in case (traveler’s dilemma).
Again I’m sure I’ve over-packed. I’ll offload a few items in Mongolia to make the pack lighter and easier to close. I’m sure they’re gonna have me open everything up and repack at the security check tomorrow…Oh well.
I had been feeling sick after I got my immunizations a week ago. I decided to see the doctor in a last minute effort and she said the immune system gets stressed after immunizations, so people usually catch a cold, etc. I was lucky she gave e some antibiotics and I’m feeling much better after just the first dose! Maybe it’s psychosomatic…….
I’ll arrive in Ulan Bator at almost midnight on the 6th, stay at her family’s apartment, that night, then head out to the nomad camp by land rover the next day.
Will try to make another update before then!
Thanks for reading! Enjoy!
PS For my last dinner in the US (<–It sounds like I’m on death row) I had a strange urge to eat a Big Mac. It was like my mind was trying to sabotage my body at the last minute. Well I can not remember the last time before tonight that I had a Big Mac…It was easily 2-3 years ago, and I remember why I rarely eat at McDonald’s now.