Saturday 4 June 2005
Today was our first trip into the countryside. We bonded with the students for our bus ride; they sang most of the way. It was amazing how many songs they knew, and how well they were able to sing. The mountain landscape was breathtaking; the clouds sank onto the hilltops, then trees sparsely lined the contours with horses, sheep, yaks, and gers sprinkling the green and brown hillside. The people wore traditional clothing, deel, riding horses, the dogs following. We went to a mini Naadam, a festival put on in July to celebrate their independence. The mini festival had most of the events done at the actual Naadam – traditional dancing, wrestling tournament, archery, and a horse race. The wrestlers wore interesting garb that consisted of a small half jacket tied with a braided rope at the chest and what resembled underwear – all in the Mongol colors of red and blue. We also ate at the tourist ger, very roomy with excellent chicken. Driving on the dirt road was jaunting; I was surprised the small vehicles were able to handle the task. I absolutely loved the brief ride I had on the horse; small enough for me to mount easily and very calm. The animals all seem very intelligent, as if we could understand each other. They are an essential part of the life and culture of Mongolia.