Day 2 and 3 – sightseeing
Mongolians have a traditional festival called Naadam every summer. This is their biggest holiday of the year. There is an opening ceremony, and people compete in wrestling, archery and horse racing. During this festival people travel to Ulaanbataar from the coutryside to get together with their friends and familes. Because of this we were unable to do any work with Save The Children, as most people in Mongolia go to watch this festival, and so we did some sightseeing!
This was the day the festival began so we went to watch the opening ceremony. There was Mongolian music, as well as lots of marching, dancing, acrobatics, and people doing tricks on galloping horses — like standing up on their backs! It was all very impressive.
On the way to a Mongolian fashion show we saw some sewage pipes which we had read about. The homeless mongolians go underground with the pipes to get shelter. In the winter they lay on the hot water pipes to keep warm. Philippa form Save The Children told us about how many homeless people, from various countries (likely to be from areas like Mongolia) are taken to China where they are treated horribly. They are often sexually assaulted and sometimes even killed. If they are killed their body parts may be used to replace failed organs of Chinese people, because of China’s large population. However there is no real evidence to support this as it is all very sneeky! My sister and I thought this was absolutely horrific.
On a more positive note, the Mongolian fashion show was absolutely amazing! There were traditional singers, dancers, contortionists, muscicians and models. The clothes were made out of fabric, furs, feathers, armour and some even had skulls on the hats!
When we got back to the hotel my sister and I had a Mongolian oil massage! It was especially to promote circulation and was very relaxing:) At nightime there were huge fireworks to celebrate Naadam that seemed to echo from the mountains, so they wre extremely loud!
We went to the National Park to see a huge modern statue of Genghis Khan. The statue was metallic and there were steps up to the horse’s mane so we could walk up and see the view. We also saw six different tradtional tribal settlements from the 13th century. The journey was long but it was worth it! We had to drive to each settlement individually.
The first of the settlements was mostly made from rocks, and some wood to hold up the gers. There were some japenese tourists who filmed us trying on the traditonal fur clothing and hats, for a Japenese TV programme! The second settlement was further into the mountains. The gers were built on decking, which was built over the valley. They had a wolf cub which they kept in a cage to show tourists. This was sad, but the Mongolians said they would let it free when it is bigger, or else it would be very dangerous. The traditional clothing here was very colourful and comfy. At the next settlement our tour guide and our driver showed us a game that the Mongolians play with animal’s ankle bones. The Mongolian working there also wrote our names in calligraphy, in 13th century mongolian script. The next settlement was very out in the open and here we tried some Mongolian food, including sour cream and sour yogurt. My sister and I also got the chance to ride a camel! We had lunch at the settlement after that. There was mutton soup, beef which was wrapped in flour and fried, salad, potatoe salad, and salty Mongolian milk to drink. The last settlement was very spiritual. There were lots of bright colours and everything had a meaning. For example mirrors on the clothing help to see the past, present and future.
We are now looking forward to visiting the Mongolian families, who Save the Children have helped out.