Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Big Trip Lives!

And we are off from Japan to Mongolia!
I had a friend who was actually getting to go to Mongolia, and was ...not excited that she "had" to go.  When she found out how excited I was for her (after she realized I was not being sarcastic) she asked me why she should be excited about going to Mongolia. Here's why:

Five Awesome Things About Mongolia

1. They have gers (also called yurts).  They are like tents, if tents were real houses with stoves, lights, and comfortable beds.  If I had a ger, I would be actually happy to go camping.

2. My Dad used to bring me bronze Mongol arrowheads when he was passing through various areas the Mongols had conquered.  I ended up with a collection that ranged from very old, leaf shaped sand cast arrowheads with an imperfect alloy, to shiny, sleek, triple edged, barbed ones. It sparked an interest in Genghis Khan that lasts to this day.

He's probably the person that I most interested in that I would not like to meet. I'm not applauding that he conquered a third of the world and came close to wiping Europe off the map, but the forging of his nation and his brilliant military and political mind are fascinating.  Something like a third of all people in Mongolia are descended from the Great Khan, making him the Father of His Country on many levels.

3.. I've always had a keen interest in falconry.  In Mongolia, they still hunt for with birds of prey.  But they aren't using falcons to hunt rabbits.  Oh, no.  In Mongolia, they use eagles.  To hunt wolves.  I kid you not.

4. Two hump camels.  Have you seen The Story of the Weeping Camel?  If not, it's really worth seeing, for the camels, of course, but also for the beautiful insight into the lives of a four generation family of nomadic herders. It started out as a National Geographic special on camel herders, but then something extraordinary happened, and they caught it on film.

 Also caught on film, the breathtaking beauty of The Land of Blue Skies.  But, back to the camels: have you ever ridden a one hump camel?  If not, can you picture yourself perched up on the hump?  Now think of riding a two hump camel.  Nuff said.

5. There are other great things about Mongolia: the horses, archery, art, and so on, but, for me, it's comes down to this: it's the ultima thul, the farthest "far away" place.

Whenever my Dad parked in the furthest spot in the parking lot (as he was wont to do) and I complained (as I was wont to do), he told me it wasn't Outer Mongolia.  That's possibly true (it was really far away) but Outer Mongolia really is Outer Mongolia!

So far, we've arrived in Ulan Bataar and we will be going out to tour part of the steppe, watch a horse race, and stay in a ger.

Total cost to date: $42,878

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