My Travels Around the World

Category: Mongolia Page 1 of 2

Mongolia Day 10 – Final thoughts on Mongolia…and what about the hat?

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia – Day 10, June 20, 2017

Saying Goodbye to the Gobi

We woke up early, had breakfast and went to settle our bill. This reminded us that we were indeed in Mongolia in the middle of the Gobi desert. In order to get wifi to pay by credit card, the staff had to drive up the hill. I may have neglected to mention that for our 5 days here, we had no wifi.  It was a combination of bliss and horror.

Mongolia Day 9 – Shearing Sheep and The Fighting Dinosaurs

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia – Day 9, June 19, 2017

Shearing Sheep

After breakfast we headed to the Tugregiin Shiree to walk where dinosaurs once walked. We were in no rush. Our caravan made its way through the desert, again forging new paths and kicking up dust.  As we crested a hill, we suddenly saw a herd of sheep and goats being sheered. Of course our caravan stopped and we all got out, cameras in hand. The family’s ger was across the road, with two motorcycles along the side. But the family was all participating in the shearing.

There was the grandmother who was trying to keep track of two younger boys, there was the father who had his lasso and whose job it was to catch the goats. There was the mother who was pulling the wool from the sheep and painting their backsides green when they were done. There was the grandfather who was shearing. And there were the older son and daughter who helped catch the animals, hold them (by sitting on them) while they were being sheared or painted and who seemed to do whatever else was needed. It was a true family affair.

Mongolia Day 8 (con’t) – Flaming Cliffs and Dinosaurs

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia – Day 8, June 18, 2017  (con’t)

Back to Three Camel Lodge – the TEST

We got back to the Three Camel Lodge, had lunch, and then met in the Lodge theater. This was our big test. This was a photography trip after all, so today we each had to turn in 5 photographs to be shared with the group and then critiqued by Michael Melford, our Nat Geo photography instructor. We climbed down the stairs to the dark theater which was decorated with masks.

Mongolia Day 8 – Khongoryn Els sand dunes and camels and sunrise

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia, Day 8, June 18, 2017

Khongoryn Els sand dunes and camels and sunrise

The next morning some of us again got up before the crack of dawn and raced the sun to make it back to the sand dunes. Once again we drove through gulleys and over dirt mounds covered in green and looking like small gers. Good thing we had 4 wheel-drive. We came to the river and again drove through it. Basically it was like getting a morning massage. And as we stepped out of our cars, I turned to Michael Melford, our Nat Geo photography instructor, and asked him, how do you spell “crazy?”  P H O T O G R A P H E R

Mongolia Day 7 – Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia, Day 7, June 17, 2017

Khongoryn Els sand dunes and camels and sunset

This morning, after breakfast, we grabbed a small bag for one night at the Khongoryn Els sand dunes. It was about a three hour drive, so our caravan set off again, across the desert. At one point the caravan stopped and we stepped out to admire the shapes made by the mountains and the dirt and the patches of green. Whenever you see a patch of green in the desert, you know that is where there is water, the source of life.

Mongolia Day 6 (con’t): The Naadam Festival

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia, Saturday, Day 6, June 16, 2017

The Naadam Festival

The Naadam means ‘entertainment,’ ‘game,’ or fun,’ in Mongolian, and, when it first began centuries ago, was dedicated to the God of heaven and to the ancestors to plead for blessings. The Naadam originated as a military parade with sporting competitions following various occasions, including weddings or spiritual gatherings.  Later it was used to train soldiers for battle. But it was always composed of the three main competitions – wrestling, horse racing and archery. Today the Naadam commemorates the 1921 revolution with the resulting independence from China. The fierce competition of the Naadam celebrates the skills needed to survive in the Gobi desert and the steppes surrounding it. The three main competitions, as mentioned above, are horsemanship, archery and wrestling, considered by locals “the three games of men (eriin gurvan naadam),” and called “Danshig” games. While it used to be only men competing, today you also see women in the horseracing and archery, and you see children in all three. And this age-old custom is celebrated with food, drinking and merriment. In general, it is individuals not teams who compete. Some also play games of shagai, sheep anklebones, that serve as game pieces and tokens of both divination and friendship (see Mongolia Day 1 for a description of this game).

Mongolia Day 6: Morning of Petroglyphs

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia, Day 6, June 16, 2017

Petroglyphs and Rabbits

After a great night’s sleep in our ger, and a great morning shower, we headed over to the dining hall ger for breakfast. The sun was shining.  The air was warm. And there was beauty everywhere we looked.

Mongolia Day 5 (con’t): The Three Camel Lodge

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia, Day 5, June 15, 2017

Three Camel Lodge

After our early morning flight and our morning introduction to the Gobi, we finally, finally arrived at the Three Camel Lodge. The first thing we saw was a large herd of horses milling about a water trough. Then behind the horses were the gers, all lined up with their brightly painted orange doors. This was not your usual ger camp. This was a place that “offers a luxurious take on the traditional nomadic lifestyle.” That’s what the website said. But I don’t think any nomads live like this.

Mongolia Day 5: The Gobi

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia, Day 5, June 15, 2017

The Gobi Desert

This morning we had a very, very early flight to the Gobi. Early as in 5:30AM. We were told to travel as light as possible as even our carry-on would be weighed and we would be charged for any weight over 33 pounds. That’s a hard thing to tell a photographer! But we all managed. As we went through security, every one of us buzzed and were hand checked. Not sure what the point of the metal detectors was since even with no metal, we all buzzed. The Aero Mongolia plane was a small prop, a Fokker 50, with seats 2×2 so everyone that wanted a window, got a window. And from the window we could see a message under the prop: Thank you for flying with us.

Mongolia Day 4: Genghis Khan and the Eagles

National Geographic Trip to Mongolia, Day 4, June 14, 2017

Sunrise again (well, it does rise every morning)

Our itinerary this morning said, “Enjoy a morning at leisure before returning to Ulaanbaatar,”  Ha! We were up before the crack of dawn, heading to our next site to photograph another sunrise.

This time we were going to the river to watch the sun come up on the other side of the bank. I was in the car with Michael, our photography teacher, and the car was having difficulties moving across the terrain. Every so often the driver would stop, back up and then go forward again. Michael was going crazy as we were racing the sun.

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