Weather in UB

Sunday, February 24, 2008

more!

A few more pics and videos.

Thirsty!
The mighty Mongolian Naval vessel-Sukhbaatar
Bumpy road/ Sleigh Ride on Lake Hovsgol
video video

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

Meg, checks out the ice on Lake Hovsgol. Verdict-STRONG
Frozen lakes are scarier when you can see the bottom.
Annie and Andrew hanging in the ger-Hovsgol
I got too tired to put the pics in the right order. Hopefully the captions help.


Map of Hovsgol
I'm going to attempt to tell you all about what might have been the coolest trip of my life. Sadly, the pictures do it no justice and no descriptive words can quite describe what it was like.
Megan, Andrew and I decided that February was a great time to go to the Eastern Taiga, in Northern Hovsgol Province, Mongolia. We flew to Moron (te he he) and spent a night there. What is a "cheese restaurant"?-Moron, Hovsgol Aimag
The next morning we set out with our driver, Renchin, and our cook, Baagi. We used Hovsgol Travel to assist in planning this trip and here is a big plug for them: everything was well organized and we highly recommend them should you choose to visit Mongolia. That aside, we started out on a journey that took us from Moron to 30km northwest of Tsaagan Nuur (see map). "Where the hell is that?" you might ask, "back and beyond the furthest point EVER" i would say. It took about 11 hours to drive the 290km (you should be gasping now). That's because the "road" (generous term) does not really exist. While we were driving we tried to think of ways to describe it. The best thing we can up with was "bucking bronco-roller coaster". I'm gonna put a video up.
Annie Rocked Ulan-Uul...have you??
Yak. Not to be confused with a "cak" or a "yattle"
Ovoo and Mountains
Andrew and the reindeerUlaana and Meg in the taiga
I must say, even though there were points were I was sure my internal organs were bleeding, the journey was beautiful and exciting and the destination was heaven-like. We drove on frozen rivers and lakes (nice roads!) and stopped in sleepy, frozen soums (2000 people or less). It truly was an adventure. We spent a few days with the Tsaatan, Mongolia's reindeer herders. We enjoyed nature, slept in teepee's, played with the kids and gawked at semi-domesticated reindeer. One of the funnier bits about being with the reindeer is that every time you tried to pee, you'd get a reindeer friend poking you in the crotch or butt, ready to eat the lichen that your urine would uncover. Consequently, this made going #2 challenging....enough about that. At night, I slept on a reindeer skin, covered in a sheepskin deel. Cool people wear sheep to bed.
Mind you, it was bitterly cold at night. We all managed to stay warm (Baagi kept the fire going all night).
Freeze drying clothes
The lesser known "Annimal"
Playin in theTiaga
Tsaatan dwellings
Entertaining myselfThe inner workings.
Somehow we managed to get back into the car and take a different route back to Lake Hovsgol. We went through Renchinlumbe soum (see map) Soum life in Renchinlumbe
where we stopped at our drivers friends house. While inside the house I was checking out the pictures on the wall only to find at picture of my old Peace Corps friend. Oddly, he had never been to Renchinlumbe and was apparently a friend of the sister of the owner of the house, yet he made the photo wall!
We made it to Lake Hovsgol a few hours shy of sunset. It was gorgeous. The craziest thing about the lake is that the water is SOOOO clear, that even in it's frozen state, you can see straight to the bottom. The ice must have been frozen 4 or 5 feet solid. As soon as we started driving on the ice, Rechin stopped the car so we could check out the ice. I was initially scared of driving several hours on the ice, but once I saw how thick and mighty it was, I had no fear. We made it to our ger camp and spent the next nights in a traditional Mongolian ger. During the day there we walked on the lake and through the woods. We caught a full moon, and listened to amazing "lake thunder" (when lakes freeze they make noise that sounds like thunder). We took a sleigh-ride on the lake too, definitely one of the highlights.
A ger with a viewClearly frozen Lake hovsgol
To be honest, as I write this I'm getting kind of sad. This in no way details the awesome things we saw and did. Maybe Andrew said it better. Check his blog: regalviszla for more description, pictures, videos and a different view!
Videos to come....

Monday, February 4, 2008

Specialized Milk for China Cosmonaut

Click on this picture to read the fine print
My roommate and I decided to try some "MonMilk". It markets itself as "specialized milk for China cosmonaut", so I figured it was worth a shot. The company also makes "walnut" and "breakfast" flavored milk. I've seen the ads for those, but have yet to try them.
Check out the MonMilk (made in Inner Mongolia) website: http://www.mengniu.com.cn/en/
Apparently they are a "well known brand in the world." They also use "explosive boiling technology". I have no idea what that is, but it sounds intergalactic!

Sometimes other people take better pictures

Kazakh man answering questions while eagle takes a break
Eagles are REALLY big
Beautiful Terelj National Park
The Eagle catches the hare
I've swiped these pictures form my friend Christian. His blog is linked on the side there. Thanks Christian!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Eagles in the capital

Terelj National Park, just outside UB
Me, nervous about holding an eagle (THEY ARE HEAVY!)
Eagle hunter heading back up the hill
look at those wings
Eagle hunter posing majestically
Christian being taught a thing or two
Ryan and Natasha-Kazakh royalty
Yesterday I attended the first Kazakh eagle hunting event in UB. The story, as told to me by a credible source, is that the Kazakh MP was sick of people in UB saying that it was too far to travel to Bayan-Olgii (Western Mongolia) for the Eagle Fest, so he asked some of the hunters to come to UB. I must say, I was pretty negative about going. First off, I've been to Olgii and seen an eagle up close and personal. I felt like this would just be too touristy...and I was right! It was pretty touristy, but getting out of the city pollution, and experiencing a fascinating piece of Kazakh culture was worth it. It was nice to be standing in a group of people, in a familiar place, but not being able to understand a word that was being said (they were speaking Russian and Kazakh).
In case you didn't know, Mongolia has a small Kazakh minority that lives in Western Mongolia, specifically Bayan-Olgii province, although not exclusively. When I visited Kazkhstan in 2005, the joke was that if you really want to see Kazakh culture, don't go to Kazakhstan, go to Bayan-Olgii or Urumqi, China.
Pictures say it best, so here are a few
Where am I in Central Asia?
Eagle hunters all lined up
Playing "who can hold on to the goat carcass"
Eagle, on the right just below the mountain peak, soaring through the air.