We have made it. Mongolia. The land of the eternal blue skies, rolling steppes and nomadic peoples, a land untouched by the globalizing forces of the world…well I haven’t exactly seen that side of Mongolia quite yet. For one thing , it rained and hailed today… so no blue skies quiet yet. Also most of today has been spent in Mongolia’s capital Ulaan Baatar (pronounciation: Ulaan Baa-tor) and it is evident that this is working city. Every block has a new construction project, people were dressed just like people from California would be, and I have never been in such crazy traffic. I guess this is to be expected. Countries want to move forward in the world, have money and progress… Mongolia for fifty years was ‘forced’ to be a Russian satellite state. When you’re surrounded by both the Soviet Union and China, you probably would be willing to do anything for self preservation. This resulted in the city as it is today. The streets are filled with Russian cars, most of the older buildings are built in the Soviet style apartment blocks, and every single sign is written in Cyrillic. However, once the Soviets collapsed in 1990, Mongolia fully embraced democracy, and subsequently capitalism as well. Most of the entrepreneurs are women and most business surround a thriving tourist industry, and not from the typical places either. Today I met a guy from Azerbaijan… random… but it makes sense.
Even while today was exciting; I ate mutton in the traditional Mongolian style, walked around the city (the hardest thing to do is crossing the street- cars do not stop at cross walks or for people), went to a viewpoint to get the larger picture of the city (a lot larger then I expected) and visited a Buddhist temple as well…For just getting here it was a busy day. Tomorrow should be a little bit more different. We are getting a driver to drive us out to a neighboring province where we will be able to see their local “Nadaam Festival”. Naadam festivals happen throughout the summer, but the include wrestling, archery and horseback riding. Hopefully by the time we get out there, we will be able to see the opening ceremonies, as well as the big horse race of the day.
Pictures and videos will happen once I get to a more reliable source of internet (it would take me forever with this internet speed)…As its been a long day, I am going to turn in. Hope this finds you all well.