Sunday, July 31, 2011

Altai Sayan

The Altai Sayan mountains extend across the borders of Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia and are identified by wwf as one of great wilderness in world. The UNDP have for seven years been working with herder communities to promote conservation and improve herder livelihoods. We travelled high into the summer pastures at 3000 metres to interview herders who were working with tourists, to talk about their experiences hopes and needs.

A day at the races

Every town (aimag) and village (soum) holds a local Naadam in July or August. Most soum in Hovd aimag is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and I was invited to attend by one of the communities I had worked with in the autumn, so Oyungerel and I timed our research visit to coincide. Because it was an anniversary the prize money was high, as much as a motorbike or car for the winner of wrestling or horse-race and many former residents returned, so the usually quiet village was transformed.

There are many cultural beliefs associated with Naadam, there is a crazy dash at the end of the race for yearlings as Mongolians try to touch the winning horse, the belief is they will gain strength and speed from the sweat, Munkdologor emerged from the melee with half a dozen hairs from the horse’s tail which she distributed to my party who carefully put the hair in a safe place. It is beneficial to have your picture taken with a strong horse, maybe I will gain strength for the gobi marathon in September.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer in the city.

Life moves outside in the summer, even in Ulaanbaatar and there are bars on pavements and outside buildings. I have spent the last month in UB, tomorrow I head out to west Mongolia, - Hovd and Uvs. Meanwhile some pictures of city life.

In June Mongolia won their first ever game in the World Cup, beating Myanmar 1 - 0; unfortunately they lost the return leg 2 - 0.

The week after the football there was a folk festival in UB when musicians from all over Mongolia travelled to perform in UB. It was absolutely brilliant, there are video clips here

Then last week was Naadam, the mongolian National holiday, for the first time I went to the opening ceremony.

and on the third day of Naadam it was national costume day.

I managed one notable trip to the countryside to see three siberian cranes, for pictures go to