Terelj camping and boy those arts sure are manly

It has been a busy week of vacation from work, so I have much to catch up on…

Last Friday I played a bit of hooky from work, but not really hooky in the sense that everyone I work with is on holiday until at least August 18th, and if my job here is to work with the Mongolians, it made little sense for me to go sit at work to work…with myself. Or at least that’s how I rationalized it.

So anyways, Chris, Becky and I took off Friday morning to head to Terelj, the National Park outside UB. We made good time getting there and were wandering about by the river at around noon. Terelj is a wonderful escape from UB as it is accessible by bus yet still feels a world away. Our afternoon was spent walking around our campsite by the river, fishing, swimming, building piles of rocks, and swatting at bugs (or hiding from them). All in all it was a great little getaway, a perfect hooky day from work.

The next morning we hopped in a microbus to take us back to Terelj. I say “hopped,” but really there is nothing so graceful as a hop in Mongolia, so in reality we crammed ourselves into a micro alongside 22 other people. Right. It was a tight squeeze. Oh, and if you can’t picture a microbus…think 12 passenger van but with less leg room. But off we went, bouncing along until we almost got to Nalaikh, our destination for the afternoon. I say almost because we stopped just outside of town, some business dealings went on, a woman handed a plastic shopping bag out the window and took 10,000 Tugrugs (less than $10) in return, and off we went. And what did she sell? Yeah, about that…she sold a goat pelt and some goat innards. Mmm, mmm, mmm, Mongolia you are a treat.

So our afternoon included a barbeque at our friend’s house, delicious food, good company, a lovely night.

And then next morning? We took in the manly arts. This past week marked Naadam in Mongolia, so each town had its own celebration. In Nalaikh, we were able to see the opening ceremony, some singing and dancing, a helicopter fly-by (turns out they do have helicopters in Mongolia), and lots of manly men wrestling in itty bitty undies. Swoon.

The next day was Naadam in UB, but we didn’t have tickets to the opening ceremony. We went to the stadium nonetheless to enjoy the festivities, drink some airag (fermented mare’s milk, believe it or not it’s tasty), eat some khushuur (fried muttony dumpling things that are the traditional Naadam food), see the archery, and simply enjoy a day of merriment in Mongolia. Oh, and we had some friends from Denver in town for two nights, so Jessica and Maarty joined in the fun. It was SO nice to see familiar faces from home all the way around the world in funny, funny Mongolia. We loved their visit!

And that was that, our Naadam in Nalaikh and UB. Luckily for us, it only marked Sunday and Monday of my week off, so sit tight, there is more – much more – to come…I’ll be back with another post soon!

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