Aug 09 2009

Mongolia 2009 – Part 1 – Cities, Naadam, and Heading West

Published by at 12:02 pm under Mongolia,Ulaan Baatar,Western Mongolia

Now that I’ve been home a week and I’m getting back into some routine, I have some time to write a few posts about the trip. After about 30 hours of flying, I finally got into Ulaan Baatar and a solid night’s sleep in the hotel. We spent the next day or two there exploring the town, running some errands, etc. Like last year, we went to a show one night with lots of singing, dancing, music, etc. There were contortionists again as well:


Impressive. Ouch!

After we were done in Ulaan Baatar, we flew another flight 3 hours west to Ulgii, the westernmost airport in Mongolia and the capital of that region. We stayed again at the Eagle Ger Camp along the river:


The river that runs next to the Eagle Ger Camp.


Our gers. Mine and my…ger-mates…is in front.

We were in Mongolia during naadam which is the time of the annual Mongolian games. Although the games in Ulaan Baatar are best known, they are heavily commercialized and it is tough for spectators to get close and really experience them so we went to local naadams instead. The naadam is made of “the three manly games”: wrestling, archery, and horse racing. In Ulgii, we only had time before we left to watch the archery portion of the games although we did see more later.


Focused before shooting. The goal is accuracy, not distance.

Before leaving Ulgii, we had time to visit a man who owned and trained 3 golden eagles used for hunting. We spent some time there interacting with the eagles and most people got a chance to hold them on their arm. I of course was too busy taking pictures to remember to get IN one. Oh well…next time.


Looking one of his eagles in the eye.

After leaving Ulgii, we drove about 6 hours over really bumpy roads to get to the park. Along the way, we stopped for lunch in a town called Tsengel and watched the wrestling part of their naadam:


The two wrestlers size each other up.


Then they lock in a grip. They stay like this for a while and it looks like nothing is happening but you can see the leg muscles are flexing.


One of them is thrown off balance…


…and goes down. All it takes is touching an arm or leg to the ground to lose.

At the end of the day, we arrived in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park at the lower end of the lake called Khoton Nur (nur = lake in Mongolian). It’s a beautiful location and it was even nicer to see our tents already set up for us since some of our guides had arrived a day or two earlier:


Our camp site at Lower Khoton Nur.

We spent a few days here, meeting our local horse and camel wranglers, getting used to our horses, etc.

More to come…

– Dave

One response so far

One Response to “Mongolia 2009 – Part 1 – Cities, Naadam, and Heading West”

  1. Hey, looks like you had a great time, and the pics are fab! Can’t wait to get out there and see these things for myself 🙂