Camp 10 – Gobi Desert Tsagaan Suvarga (White Stupa) Again

This morning we left our luxury ger with the sunken bathroom and toilet and headed once more into the great desert wilderness.

We are heading back north east today and then east then north to our previous camp White Stupa to the lovely family who showed us so back a week ago.

We travelled through some incredible desert today. Places as wild and remote as I have seen yet in the Gobi desert. The temperature was back into the high 40s and at one place where we stopped to look at some stone edged sand dunes 52c! We Wondered if the temperature gauge in the car was broken and if it wasn’t for the cloud cover and wind to help it may have been even hotter.

We have had strong winds most of the day, white sky, dust? Cloud?

The roads were the usual corrugated ruts with forks heading into every direction and it was necessary to keep an eye on my compass app on my iPhone. The car reading was often erratic but it seems the $2.99 app I downloaded back home before the journey has been worth the exercise.

Through the deep sand and rugged rocky roads we travelled. Stopped for tea but it was too hot… Kept driving always uncertain if we were on the correct road. It is worth it just to see the breadth and wild country. As the land became dryer the herd animals became less. We saw a few herds of camel with not much to eat. Twice we came by a well with animals standing around a dry well. The first well had about a dozen beautiful small horses. We stopped and Unench and Mervyn drew water up from the well to fill the trough. The horses drank so much, they were so thirsty. The lifted nearly twenty buckets. Distant camels also saw what was happening and two of them came sauntering across the stony ground and waited behind the horses. The horses were not going to let the camels in and rushed at them until they had had their fill. The camels are such gentle creatures, so tall and polite looking. These must be females. When the horses had had their fill and we had taken many photographs they moved off and andered away up the hill. They seemed very grateful to have a drink. This is the first of the hot days and the animals must climatise too.

Half an hour further on we came across another dry well. This time a herd of camels looking thirsty. We could not drive past. Stopped again and to our disappointment there was no sign of a bucket or any way to reach the water. The well was about two meters or more down. We had a bucket and some rope in the car and thought we could use that. Unench investigated a hit nearby another well and eventually found a bucket at the end of a long pole. All the while the camels were watching in anticipation and following our every move and clearly wanted to drink. I wanted to give them our drinking water but Tugsoo stopped me saying it would not be enough for them and the camels would get angry if not satisfied.

So once more Unench and Mervyn took relays in being the heavy buckets of water from the well and we watched on the these giant creatures drank and drank and raised their head and sucked their lips and made satisfied noises. They looked at us and said thank you with their souls. We left them with water in the trough as we left.

A little further on we passed yet another well, this time a beautiful white camel was sitting down and patiently waiting and I wanted to stop for her too but the others would not. Camels, I was told clearly can survive without water for fourteen days at a time, and white ones fifteen.

I felt as if while we were getting lost we were traveling across this dry desolate place feeding animals. Well, feeding we were not as there was very little feed in any of this part of the country. It surprising how close to the surface and how sweet the water is we have found. It is as if when it does rain the water is captured underground and the surface dries out to its extreme.

We drove another hundred kilometers planned today as we continued to take the wrong track. We have enough petrol we hope for the next sum.

Eventually we arrived back at this ger camp. We had another interesting diversion when we took yet another wrong track nearby when we came upon a valley with illegal gold diggers. Unench was a little nervous when he said not to take photographs as these ger camps are mining illegally. The miners they call ningers because they are always carrying sacks of rock on their back to sift for gold. They carry guns and people disappear down the deep holes. The police do nothing to stop the activity. He went on to tell us a lot more and wanted to quickly get away from this valley.

It was interesting because just before we tuned down the wrong valley we had been wondering about the bones and clothes we found on the roadside, half buried. Nobody wanted to go digging and all presumed the bones were of the many animal bones strewn across the Gobi. Hmm. There were trousers, a pair of shoes, a hairbrush and other unrecognized pieces of cloth well weather beaten.

We were pleased to finally sight the white gers of our camp. The family were just as pleased and smiled widely when we pulled up. The family had heard us speak on the radio when we were being interviewed at our exhibition at the history museum. That was lovely.

A heavy grey sky with what appeared as a thick dust storm was heading our way. Once more in this camp we managed to get our stuff into the gers before the wind struck. We had to change gers as when we cover the top with felt there were great holes. These came from the storm a few nights ago. We buckled down, closed up everything and had a quick shower before the winds arrived. They were strong. The worst of it past quickly enough I think. I am laying on my bed now, the air has cooled considerably and the wind now milder. The generator has just been turned in and I am hoping for an early peaceful night.

Camp 11 – The Gobi to Baga gazriin chuluu

Storms seem to be following us around but never quite connect. We had good weather this morning for our trip further northward towards Ulaanbaatar. As we retraced our first miles back towards Mandalgovi for fuel the weather heated up again once more towards 55 degrees celsius.
The wind was strong and the dust blew off the roads and many willy willys raced across the plains. Sometimes the wind and dust was so strong we could not see the road.

Eventually we arrived back in Mandalgovi and refueled and decided this town was not good to us and we should leave immediately. The last time was the drama with the drunk who ran into us and we had the police involved. We bought water and explored a soviet style shopping centre and for s second time a car almost backed into Unench. He had to shout st the driver to stop.

Finding our way out of time towards the mountains was also eventful. We took what we thought would be the correct direction and Unench decided to stop and ask a man walking along with large bag which way we should go. My intuition heckles were immediately raised as I remembered the other directions strangers had given us… To my dismay the man hopped into the car and said he would take us to s man who knew the way. We drove up the hill to a man in a shed and some conversations were clearly animated. I wanted Tugsoo and Unench to drive on. It they waited for the man to come back. He hopped back in the car again and said he would take us to the right road. I sensed trouble and more so as we headed into the ger district and drove through with locals looking us as if we didn’t belong. The man gave directions to the top of another hill with an ovoo and directed Unench to stop the car. He then pointed at the road ahead and proceeded to ask Tugsoo for money; because he had been taxi and gave directions. She gave him a hand foul of money. He was not happy and demanded more. He stood with the door open and we did not understand the language between Tugsoo and the man but it didn’t feel good and I asked Unench to drive off in English. We seemed to stay there for quite some time with the argument passing back and forth between Tugsoo and the man until she eventually said good buy to him and told Unench to drive on. It certainly was not a good town for us.

We continued on towards our destination using compass and map and intuition to find the roads. Passed a coal mine and noted that the map had the mine on the other side of the road, so once more we were off the track. Up and down and round about and hills and cranes and small animals and we arrived at a camp set amongst another rock location. When Mongolia tuns on wild landscape she does it really well. Once again these hills of rocks were sculptures of all shapes standing up on each other and leaning in precarious positions.

In amongst these hills was an old ruin of a monastery that had been destroyed about 100 years ago. The walls were thick and blue silk was tied amongst the hidden garden. The monastery was hard to find and we searched several Gorges before we discovered it. It was like a secret garden with many flowers growing through the rocks, and while the skies were black and thunderous with the approaching storm it was warm and quiet in this valley. There were many small makes and birds also living here. The monks may have gone but life was thriving here. We found a birds nest nesting tucked in between some rocks at a level surely predictors would find. The nest had three beautiful eggs. Many ground herbs including tyme grew here, smelt more pungent than the type in my garden, but the same herb.

This was indeed a special valley. The ger camp is set amongst the rocks and looks out over s plain where a gers camp with a herd of goats and horses is happily grazing. A small family of tailless mammals is visiting our ger, probably used to visitors.

The wind has dropped and the generator is roaring. Some German tourists have arrived in a bus, it was the one we commented on earlier today as driving very slowly. It had apparently broken down somewhere. Tomorrow we drive back to the belter smelter of UB.

Camp 2 – Middle Gobi, Mandalgovi

Continued on from last post, I am now writing from the only hotel available to us in the capital town that is Middle Gobi Desert. We contemplated going on to camp but as its a further hundred kilometers from here the plan was to stop off again at a market and pick up those little things we realize we need from our first night out yesterday.

The drive out here was through an exceptional landscape of rocky outcros, sand dunes, winter ger camps and camels. We spotted a small herd of gazelle grazing in the distance. Many horses and goat herds.

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There is a sense I need to write quickly for tomorrow I will once more be away from wifi and computer battery points.

On arrival in the town we decided we would perhaps stay the night because a shower would be a good thing too and we could regroup tomorrow.

Firstly, the town is like a large outskirts of UB with many ger camps and rickety fences on way into town. I forgot to mention the first class bitchumen highway we linked up with and rode into town. Once the bichumen met the local road it stopped and for a kilometer into town the road was broken into lumps of concrete… Surely the new road could have resurfaced all the way into town.

The first hotel we stopped at a man came to our car and said it was closed. Only the new 4×4 vehicles n the drive gave away it was used by a political party. The cars were carrying political posters. Same story in every hotel. Until we found this small one.

I have no idea what the name is or that it even was a hotel but Tugsoo and Unench recognized it as one. Tugsoo went inside to negotiate beds for the night and soon reappeared to say that there was a small room with two beds only; we could do same as last night and share room and boys sleep on the floor. There is nothing else so agreed, and anyway it is cheaper than yesterday’s ger… And there would be a Beth or shower we can use. She also added a man would fix the plumbing, there is a toilet with our room.

Ok, set for the night we decided to look around for perhaps a better hotel and find the market. Nothing appeared so made our way back to the booked room. Unench was having some difficulty depositing the gear stick out of 4×4. While he and Mervyn stood in the car park reading the car manual, well, Unench read because it was written in Mongol they noticed just cams from the front tire a steel reinforcing rod sticking out of the ground ready to pierce the wheel. So Unench moved the car back a but to avoid the rod.

A little while later a small white car with two men inside attempted to turn into the space between Unench and the car parked next to us. He nudged the tow bar. Twice in two day!! I was standing with Mervyn by now and we shouted and indicated to the man to reverse. He looked at us with glazed eyes and pushed forward more, nudging the tail bar almost completely off. Now the tail bar was hanging from the side. The men In the car were clearly vodka affected. They gave a peace sign and didt seem to know what to do. Several people were watching. The man managed to just miss another vehicle as he reversed back into the road and tried to move into another car park. He obviously wanted to come into this hotel.

By now several people including the hotel staff had gathered and the police were called. We took down the number plate. No one seemed to be interested in swapping names and addresses or anything.

Eventually the local police arrived and by now quite a crowd had gathered around. I took some photographs with the canon camera and was told to stop taking them.

Mervyn and retired to sit in the car while the Morgan’s sorted out the problem, clearly we were just in the way, though we were the main witnesses. After theodicy took to the measuring of the car park with a long tape it appeared as if this was about to become a major event.

After further discussions and the arrival of the chief policeman arrived the who scenario moved to the police station.

The poor culprit was still standing around looking rather bewildered. Forgot to mention he had also left the scene and taken us drunk colleague away and returned to the car park where a man from the hotel reached into his car and removed the keys. He continued to deny touching Unench’s car.

The police drove his car to the police station and impounded it into a locked yard. We were told to say in the car while Unench and Tugsoo went into the police station.

The outcome is that the man would loose s license and spend the day in the cell. I understand it is immediate loss of license if caught drinking under the influence of alcohol.

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Then they announced they would take the car to the repair shop and have it repaired immediately. We are to stay in the hotel. That seemed ok, though Mervyn offered to go and et Tugsoo have a rest but she wanted to go. That left Mervyn and I to have shower and relax and wait till they came back.

We carried bags upstairs to our small room. Tiny room really. There was a man with his head inside the ensure fixing the loo who didn’t seem to mind us in the room. Ok so far. Until we asked if there was shower or bathroom somewhere. No. Not. Hmm. No shower, no bath. I took out my Mongolian language book and pointed to bath and shower. He seemed pretty sure the answer was still no. Ok then, it’s a wash in the hand basin. We could consider ourselves lucky to have a loo and a wash basin as we are in the middle of the Gobi desert. Get it into perspective, just because there is bichumen ans brick walls… The water of course is cold. And we are laughing because still because this is Mongolia. What a thrill for us to be here in the middle of the Gobi, a place of so many unrealized dreams. What to complain about, I am sitting on the bench that is called a bed, I have electricity, glass between me and the cold wind and wet carpet on the floor. Life is pretty good. We await the next chapter…

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Camp 1 – Ulaanbaatar to Tuv Borjigon

Finally we left the chaos and rough charm of Ulaanbaatar for the countryside. Tugsoo, Unench, Mervyn and me. We packed Unench’s 1998 Prado with all we thought we would need for a couple of weeks in the Gobi Desert. Like any city, it takes a long time to get out of the thick traffic and we had on the way only one small accident. A young woman bumped into our car and we became one of the many road blocks to cause more Mongolian chaos as Tugsoo and Unench sorted out the issue. Rather than worry about car insurance issues the problem was solved with the woman handing over 20,000 Tg for the damage. On closer inspection the damage could be wiped off with a steel cloth later.

Another stop along the way at a wholesale grocery shop for more supplies of bottled water and packets of Mongolian breakfast biscuits and food.

The road slowly cleared of traffic and we soon found ourselves emerging into the light of the hills, becoming tinged with green from the recent rain. It is clear the country is in need or more rain as the sparse vegetation tries to thicken.

We were driving south west toward the Gobi and beside up in the north west were thick black striking clouds of which I took many photographs. Unench received a phone call from the city saying heavy rain and flooding was beginning in UB and we were all quietly pleased to have got out in time.

Then the wind started.

We left the bitumen road after an hour or so and took instructions on where next to go. It turned out we had to follow a sandy track to the south that was barely a track. This being the main route to the Gobi. Many times we had to make quick decisions on which fork of the track to take as there were no sign posts. Then the wind picked up more and we could still the the dark deep grey clouds to the right of the car now.

The landscape changed to something more similar to the Australian outback, small shrubs and tall grasses similar to our spinifix grass though without the thorns. It is very beautiful. Small yellow flowering throbs began to appear and mauve ground creepers interspersed with a deep purple ground hugging iris only inches tall.

The sky was wild, partly blue sky and thick white cloud emerging into the grey rain steamed sky behind us. Then appeared a brown shadow on the horizon suspiciously like a dust storm. T was not long before the whirling dance of the brown streaked reached us and become one thick brown dusk storm. I managed to get out of the car and take some photographs as it came so quickly upon us, blurring out the near distance to an night sky. What to do. All we could do was keep driving on and hope soon we would come out of it.

It must have been an hour and a half before the wind dropped a little and we were again driving in a clear sky. There were many tracks to follow and the decisions were not definite. Eventually we decided to keep mostly to the telegraph line as a new one had been recently constructed across the landscape. It was so new that the gravel holding up the poles was still fresh and a clear cross indentation was marked on the ground where the poles were held down.

Perhaps following the power lines was not necessarily the best decision. We drove up and down and round and around the rocky poles. We would see many other tracks criss crossing the landscape. Our thinking was, even with the map and compass that the power lines must end up in the Govi-ugtaal. And then we thought about all of the mining in the Gobi. We had been track crossing for many hours and finally, from the top of a rocky ridge we could see a city in the far distance. We had almost given up trying to count kilometers on the road because we took into account the extra length and slow travel of the power line track. Now we could see a larger road which we followed for a while while keeping the lines in sight. To our right on another ridge we could also see an older line but the new ones were our current guide.

Some rough time later, before is was a white city. Only thing is, as we approached the white city of new buildings we could see a razor fence. And then the equipment and gets and containers of a mining camp! It is very good that we are traveling in summer light and that we would still have several hours of twilight.

Enquiring at the camp the whereabouts of the sum we were looking for we basically had to head north again.

Back on the track Unench started back north, then somewhere the advice had also been follow the main road. Well out here there is not much of anything you could call a main road. Unench turned around and decided he would find it and went back to the other side of the camp. And then Mervyn was worried we were going in quite the wrong direction as according to the map if we were where we thought we were we would miss the town completely.

So back around we swung and what an interesting beginning to our first day in the Gobi. Lost on. The first track! At least we have water and food. Out here there is no helicopter to come and search. You will basically be found by a nomad or miner, or die.

At one stop we all needed to pee. It was quite hilarious and we had a sense of humor intact as even the girls realized the length they could pee as the wind was so strong the urine never ht the ground but was sprayed for meters in front. Lesson to remember, always pee into the direction the wind is blowing.

After the wind settled a little the rain came. Not a lot, just a gentle spraying on the dusty windows.

With driving and track crossings we did finally come to a couple of gers and asked the man the directions to the sum. And with an hour or so of light left we got to the town.

No any hotel working here we were told. Better keep going to the camp. Hmm, we still had a good one hour left of light. I was a little unsure of this wisdoms but off we went again passing herds of cattle, horses and goats. Would have loved to stop and take more photographs but the light was beating us.

Passed a magnificent sunset and several rainbows. The countryside is wide Ong and looking spectacular, particularly I the last of the evenings ought.

And then before us was the jagged rocky horizon of a Tolkien landscapes. They are the hills we were heading for. It seemed to take forever now and the hills moving further away everytime we glimpsed them over a ridge,

Eventually we were beside them and able to turn left towards where the camp had been described to be.

Some time later we were indeed driving through the wildest landscapes of rock formations. In our country these formations would be referred to as the devils marbles, but only twice as wild. Ridge after ridge mugged out the most extraordinary formations of rocks piled upon each other and then across each other and more and more of these amazing things.

And tracks coming and going and amazingly a sign that read in Mongolian camp 9 kilometers and an arrow. We followed this and agan came across many choices of which way and the light was running out. Then another sign and wonderfully a light with several gers huddled together.

We had found the camp!!

With what light we had left we pulled up at the camp. It was now freezing outside, down to 9celcious but the wind chill was about zero. A lot of haggling about prices and where and what we could do. There were basic gers and this time as we were all looking forward to light the ger stove we were told no stove. No hot water, no meals. Just the ger and the most expensive price we have ever paid for ger. We opted to share one ger two beds and mattresses to be brought in for the floor.

Fortunately we had bought an extra gas stove on route and had plenty to water and food to look after ourselves. It was cold. No fire in the ger and the first one had no light either. And we were given the one furtherest from the ablution block. Was that for foreign tourists, I wondered. Wow, there may have been no hot water but at least the toilets and wash room was clean with flushing toilets. Considering where we were, out here in middle Gobi it is some knd of a feat to have any kind of accommodation and beds to sleep in.

After bringing in our gear from the car we set about a simple dinner of noodles cooked on our gas stove and cups of tea and soon to bed and a sleep of interesting dreams. I had a big dream about my mother.

Then it began to rain, just a little at first and then heavy downpour. It was quite something listening to the dull thud of heavy raindrops in the canvas outer cover of the felt ger. I hoped for all that the water would not seem through the floor and Lino cracks upon which Unench and Mervyn were sleeping.

Somewhere during the night it got very cold. That’s a lot more cold than when we had arrived. I was sleeping inside my warm sleeping bag and cosy, but my face and head was so cold I had to pull it over my head.

The light filter through sometime early morning and I knew it was morning, but very early so stayed in bed. Mervyn had already risen from s floor bed and put the kettle on to make us all a cups.
Over our breakfast of tea and brewed coffee with Mongolian cakes we decided to pack up and move on after looking around. The wind had set up a gale and there was no way we would be able to effectively draw today in the landscape.

Well, once we had paid the hostess and packed the vehicle we set about exploring this amazing landscape.

Stunning, spectacular and this time perhaps just once I could use that awful word, awesome. This landscape we had woken into was and endless pile of rocks and mountains and boulders spewed up by the earth in some ancient catastrophe millions of years ago. Australia has little piles of the formations but I have never seen the grandeur of this landscape and it was worth all the cold of last night to be here. Still didn’t make it any easier for painting so we spend the morning and day walking around and taking many photographs do where we were.

Tugsoo had told us in the morning in ancient times these mountains are considered sacred and that many dreams a common.

There are all kinds of figures and animals reconstructed in this landscape.

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The photographs I have here do not do the landscape justice because my iPhone camera was flat and all of my good images are in the canon camera. I will try to post other photographs later.

Ulaanbaatar and Desert Sharing

We are still here in Ulaanbaatar and the weather seems to be improving daily as summer emerges.

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Our exhibition is drawing to an end tomorrow, and now we are beginning to get some media attention. Today a journalist came to visit the show and was so impressed she thought we needed more attention. Not long after we returned home Tugsoo received a phone call and the message we would be on the 3.30 Eagle TV news. We had 15 minutes to sit and watch our exhibition and hear our names in Mongolian. Tomorrow we have to return to the gallery where there will be another TV crew to interview us and apparently other newspapers are now interested. The story I wrote for the Mongol Messenger is also to be published this coming Friday.

Although it seems a little late it is better now than never and hopefully good publicity for our next show in June after the Gobi.

The national elections are coming up soon and this is also always a bad time for arts publicity, anywhere in the world. And especially here at the moment when there is much tension on the ground between the nomadic country people and the new industrial and mining companies.

We have noticed the difference, or is it just coincidence? While there are wonderful people we have been meeting there are others in the street that look at us as intruders. I dot remember this happening on our previous trip. It is helpful in understanding how new Australians and visitors must fell at times when they are not tolerated by a minority of our population.

Our friends say that here the difference between the rich and poor is widening, as in other western societies. I am aware of more people on the streets collecting bottles. There are also many one person street stalls selling nuts or offering the passerby an opportunity to weigh themselves on a set of scales. The warmer weather is bringing out the entrepreneur. Clearly there is much poverty in Ulaanbaatar now. In contrast can be seen in the numerous multistory buildings and flash cars on the road. There are car yards all over the place selling new or second hand Japanese imports; with the right hand drive instead of left as the rule is here. It would make sense for Mongolia to change the law and drive on the right like the majority of their cars.

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These photographs were taken this evening when we met a friend at the Blue Sky Tower for dinner. The Blue building that dominates the inner city is today working as a hotel with several businesses and restraunt. Two years ago when we were here it was unused, condemned because of the danger of pieces of glass falling. We had arrived early for dinner and took a look at the view from the top floor Restraunt. It was magnificent to see from the 23rd floor the road map laid out. Below us. And the view of high rise apartments reaching out to the hills and the amount of residential development on the outlying hills and valleys.

Fences, Power Poles and Pavements

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Walking around the streets of Ulaanbaatar I am often fascinated by the array of small iron and steel fences dividing and segregating spaces along roadways, pavements and around the older Soviet apartment blocks.

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There seems to have been great pride in the array of designs and colors of these fences around the town. Some of the apartment blocks have lovely colors decorating them, the diamond may be yellow, the upright red and horizontal green.

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Closer into the city there are steel fences that make me cringe when I think of the potential for an accident with the sharp upright bars with sharp edges that seem to have no point in today’s busy life. The fences must be a left over from a past era and I am sure as the modern Mongolia unfolds these little steel constructions will be gone. There are not many roadsides or pathways today complete with the structures, most have sections missing or bent out of shape wearing with the age and abuse of a changing city.

The contrast of the countryside where the landscape is/was devoid of fences and the extreme amount of fences in the city is extraordinary. While talking of quaint and decorative steel and iron fences I could also mention the miles of bent sheet steel fences. And the razor wire fences and those fenced fences that abound national embassies…

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Also of interest is the state of the power poles along the streets. At first I noticed the covering missing from the occasional steel power pole. And then it became clear most of the coverings were missing; often with a tangle of wires hanging out tied loosely with ‘scotch’ or with ribbed coated wires leading off into who knows where attached. We have noticed workmen in the street tapping straight into the loose wires and to what personal risk…

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There is much work going on throughout the city at present, there is a sense of summer's arrival and the city is working hard to catch a glimpse. Hence, pavements are being dug up, or left behind from the winter chill that would have uplifted paving stones and thrown them about in a careless fashion. Lids are missing all over town from pavements and roadways; and to where? The steel lids constructed of steel allegedly make good barbecues. Cement ones are often tossed about line polystyrene in a seemingly easy fashion, as if the culprit was to return soon to replace it but forgot; several seasons ago. These ones are filled with street waste, papers, rocks, sticks and plastic bottles.

The amount of change I have noticed in the two years since my last visit to Ulaanbaatar I am sure will be even more enormous if I am fortunate enough to return here in the future. It feels as if every bit of Mongolia is undergoing massive change.

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Still in Ulaanbaatar

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A few more Ulaanbaatar images. Spent a little time in exhibition today meeting some people we met here a couple of years ago. Another trip to the Black Market and the wonderful fabric stalls. The market is such a mix of everything of food, clothing, all your ger needs, antique jewllery and anything else you can think of. It’s just the thickness of the traffic chaos getting in and out. The black market is definitely worth a visit or two and where there are bargains compared to the city stores. People move through the isles here like they do on r the roads; squeeze through any gap and not worried about manners or social rules. This is all that makes the place vibrant as well as the adrenal rush of needing to be totally aware of you bags and pockets.

There is only one month left of our time in Mongolia and we are yet to get to the Gobi Desert. We have spent far too much time in Ulaanbaatar this time, I think. It has been interesting to get to know the place a little better, but at the same time there is only so much broken pavement we need to experience. To dampen our spirits a little after a lovely day of hair cutting celebrations with wonderful friends we were spat at from a passing caR as we were attempting to cross the road. This is now the second affront we have experienced in a couple of days. The first being the assault in the Ger town and this just near the Ghenggis Khan hotel.I suppose Mervyn and I were alone and not in the company of our Mongolian friends. We have heard that everything has changed and that we are not the flavor of the month anymore. It’s people from our Nations that are coming into Mongolian to rape and pillage minerals and the amount of change that is visible in the building of apartments is staggering.

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There is only o…

Hair Cutting Ceremony

It is customary for the children’s hair cutting ceremony to take place around the time of Children’s Day in Mongolia. Today we we’re invited to two separate families having their childns hair cutting day. At 11.00am ikhama and Tugi invited us to take part in the first cut and eat a feast with them. This is an honor for us to attend one of the most significant days in a child’s lie, the first hair cut. It was explained to me the boy, also Tugsoo has turned four, but from the mothers position he is a lady five because of the time spent in her womb. Iklama and Tugi’s family were present and a lovely table with food had been prepared.

We had taken a taxi part of the way and walked along the river wall where we were able to view the development of the town and the river. We looked down on many new outrages double story stand alone houses in the ritzy edge of town. A family was harvesting seeds from the wild trees growing along the river banks. We had to pick our way through fences and rubble to find a path in the general directn of where Tugsoo thought Tugi and Iklama’s apartment is. We did eventually find it, a new apartment in a new development on the sixth floor, no lifts.

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The ceremony took place much as I have previously described. Firstly the child and then the first cutter takes a sip of special milk from a silver bowl and is handed the scissors with a blue silk tie. The first cuts of hair by the family are tied into another blue silk tie to be kept for a hand over ceremony when the cod reaches a good teenage age, say 18. When each person has cut aiece of hair and handed over gifts of money and presents there are more speeches and well wishes for the child’s destiny. Snuff bottles of tobacco like snuff and also shared as is vodka and wine.

Food keeps on coming all day.

We three left to then attend another ceremony of hair cutting across town. This time it was tugsoos relative. The house in in the ger district. Tugsoos sister is also a pasted at the local evangelical church and the congregation have. Built a simple timber structure next to their house. This is a coles area of houses and gers, lane ways, to fences and a multistory apartment building built out of slabs of second hand concrete. I don
T know how they can get away with this. Unench says it has been under construction the past five years and the give away was the multi-colored walls or mixed wallpapers that Alcorn the structure that we thought was being Demolished!

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