I spent most of today with my sister at a wrestling tournament in the Nalaikh (pronouced: so that no English speaker can say it) province. The tournament/opening ceremonies were a part of that provinces Nadaam festival, and the winners will go on to compete in the National Tournament which happens in a couple days. The environment surrounding the festival was very colorful, with family groups coming from all over the province to enjoy the party. Over the six hours we spent at this particular festival, my sister and I were able to compile some notes and observations of Mongolian culture that we thought were interesting and we would like to share with you…:-)
Cars: People here drive horribly, stopping for no one and even the smallest thing (a person standing on the side of the road, someone slowing down a little bit) will set off a cacophony of car horns. Also, while they do have roads, they do not have street signs, traffic lights or car lanes. They just go. Other then the traffic and driving habits are the actual cars themselves. Mongolian streets are meant to drive on the right side, like in America. However, most of the cars, instead of having their steering wheels on the left sides of the car, instead they are on the right. Which is really confusing to me… especially cause the method of passing the car in front of you is often listing slowly to the left till the person sitting shot gun can tell you whether there is cross traffic. Which usually there is. Most of the time they just go for it anyways. I would never be able to drive here…
Youth Culture: Despite being a country known for its isolation, kids here dress very similarly to kids you would see in the States. I will let my sister take it from here…
This includes Emo kids. Yes, Mongolia has Emo kids (“…non-conforming as can be! You can be non-conforming too if you look just like me…” If you know that song, sing along with me! Anyways…) I saw Slasher T-shirts on girls wearing too much eye-makeup, topped off with the angry, volatile expression of a preteen being forced to spend a day at a county festival by their parents when they would rather be reading Sylvia Plath to their sheep herd. True, I only saw one group of girls who fit this description at the festival but once you see one you can be sure there are Emo kids in gers across the country.
Note: If you are somewhat offended by what my sister wrote – then too bad.
Mongolian Language: Its impossible. It probably includes all of the consonants and vowels that were not included in the English language. It honestly sounds like a combination of Russian, Chinese, and Klingon… I’m not much of a linguist, but I do try to learn some key words like “Hello”, “How are you?” and “Toilet”… I barely got the first one down, which is “Sen-Bain-urr”… but toilet … kinda sounds like “fjdkslafdsa”. Luckily I have not had to really be tested when it comes to my language abilities.
Tomorrow will include the opening ceremonies for the Nadaam Festival in Ulaan Baatar, which should be pretty exciting. Hope this message finds you well.