Archive for August, 2010

Blue skies and clouds

One of the things I’ve loved about this land of blue sky is its glorious clouds.  Some days every direction you look has a different kind of cloud.  Often I feel that I can reach up and pull them down.  And at this time of year, the sky is so clear.  Tonight I went outside and just sat and admired the day turn to night and the sunset fade away.  Had to share some of these clouds with you before I go.  So here’s a sampling…

Local statue of wrestler doing his triumphant eagle dance for the clouds

Sometimes it tries to rain, but doesn't reach the ground

A storm on the way

Sunset from my house

Clouds overseeing the Governor's post-Naadam party

Interesting combo: sunet and a rainbow trying to hold its ground

A coming storm at sunset

Clouds reflected in a river near Muron


August 20, 2010 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment


This will be a short post–wanted to get in at least one more before I leave.

Last week we had snow on the mountains here and again yesterday.  If this is a sign of winter coming early this year, it’s time I headed for home.

The first of goodbye celebrations with a couple of friends on the banks of our river outside Muron

My boss came to work the other day and said many people have been stopping her and asking when I am leaving.  Then I came home and read an email from the person who is house-sitting for me and she said people are asking her every day when am i coming home.  I am beginning to feel as if I have a foot in both places and am eager to see family and friends and reluctant to leave so many good friends here.

I certainly don’t have time to fret about anything.  I’m teaching English every morning for an hour and a half and then am really busy with our handicraft shop.

A view of the inside of our handcraft shop

The shop is  very active and the handcrafts are selling well.  I am also expecting that my favorite woodcarver will be able to sell some of his carvings at a handcraft shop in UB.  It’s taken a good two years to get this all going but I think everyone is happy about the shop and it will continue to flourish.

And even though I’m leaving soon, I’ve just initiated some new conversations about encouraging a couple of new local businesses involving organic projects.  I figure with technology enabling us to almost eliminate the barriers of space I can keep right on working with my Mongolian friends whether I’m here or back home in the States.

My friend, Esse, after a victory at Hatgol's Naadam

I didn’t get to write earlier about our local Naadam.  I went to two this year since Muron’s was scheduled for late in July and most Naadam are in early July.  A friend and I went up to Hatgol for their Naadam and discovered one of my friends was wrestling and won!  I think I did say Muron was having a big Naadam this celebrating the 300th anniversary of Chingunjav, a Mongolian hero.  Lots of people came–but I think I really like the little Naadams best.  This year there was a very big horse race but it was so far out of town I didn’t get to see it.  Really all you see since it starts many kilometers away is a herd of horses flying toward you at the finish line with little 8-10 year old boys (and maybe a girl or 2) astride mostly bareback.

Two boys on left are winners of a couple of the horse races at Muron's Naadam

The day after the Naadam , Khovsgul’s governor held a party for many of the more prominent people who attended Naadam.

Two Mongolian men at the Governor's post-Naadam party

It was a beautiful day out in the countryside catered by Muron’s best chef.  Perhaps a couple of hundred people there and I was the only non-Mongolian.  I like that!  Lots of picture taking–I’m including a couple: two men dressed in typical Mongolian style and one of me with a famous wrestler (don’t know his name).

Judy and a famous wrestler at Governor's party after Naadam

August 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

The ups and downs of travel

Morning mists rising from the lake with yaks peacefully grazing

I left out one thing in my last blog.  It happened during Clayton’s family’s trip to visit me last month.  This adventure deserved a blog of its own.  If you read the blog, you’ll remember we left Muron to drive north to the town of Hatgol that lies at the south end of Lake Khuvsgul.  The following day we went on a horse trek.  The next day we planned to leave in the afternoon and so that morning our driver took us up the road that borders the lake to see the old tour boat called the Sukhbator that sometimes takes visitors around the lake.  It’s the biggest boat in land-locked Mongolia so people like to come to see it and get their pictures taken on it.

The beginning of this part of the road is marked by a high hill with a small monument on top.

The hill we wanted to climb

On the way back to our ger camp for lunch, Clayton wondered if we could possibly drive up part of that hill and then climb to the top for a better view of the lake and the countryside.  The driver agreed and so turned right onto a small road along the base of the hill.  It had rained heavily late in the day before and the road was really muddy.  So muddy that the driver decided to pull off the road onto the grassy field

A muddy road and no traction for our car

beside us where he thought there would be firmer ground.  Oops, it was as bad as the road and before we knew it, we were stuck, wheels spinning and no traction.

When it was clear we weren’t going anywhere, we got out and tried to push but to no avail.  This was an open field with houses some distance away, so the driver left us in the car and took off walking to get some help.  Shortly after he left, it began to rain, hard.  Then it began to hail, hard. So hard that a herd of yaks that had been grazing behind us along the lake must have become frightened and came running, hell bent for leather, apparently trying to get away from the hail.  They came up from behind our car and the herd split with yaks galloping by on both side of us and hail pounding down on us all. I can’t imagine where the yaks were heading but they certainly thought that somewhere else was better that where they had been.  With all this extra water, we knew we were stuck more than ever, but the sight of yaks streaming by us on both sides had us laughing hysterically.  They are funny-looking animals to begin with and to watch them trying to outrun the hail only made it funnier.

Finally, the hail and the rain stopped and we watched for our driver to appear with some help. No moving vehicles or people in sight.  Finally, we saw a big tank truck coming down a road not far away.  The truck made a couple of turns and we weren’t sure if it was coming our way or not, but finally it took another turn and headed straight for us.  We all cheered, especially when Clayton spotted our driver in the front seat with the truck’s driver.

Stuck Truck

As it turned down the road we had been on, the truck suddenly lurched and the front left tire sunk in a big mudhole!  (see photo!)  Uh oh, now it was stuck too—worse than we were.  They tried and tried to rock it out, but couldn’t make any headway. After half an hour or so, at last, they got it backed out of the hole—but there appeared to be something wrong with the axle.  At that point, a few other people had gathered and eventually they gave up on the truck and came over to our car.

How deep is that hole?

And then, all together pushing and slipping and shoving, we got the car pushed onto a spot where we could get some traction.  Then we all piled back in and headed for our ger camp for a late lunch, then packed up and departed Hatgol. Whew!  It was one of those “it’s funny…now” experiences and we won’t soon forget it.  It’s all part of what makes traveling in Mongolia so memorable.

August 3, 2010 at 8:53 am Leave a comment

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