Our Travels to the North of Mongolia
Naadam is a traditional festival and is celebrated nationwide. Although Mongolians have celebrated it fir thousands of years , the festival has been organised in honour of the victory of the people's revolution since 1921. The threes main
games wrestling, archery and horse racing, were consider to be the essential skills that men should process. Each year 35 thousand wrestlers, 40,000 horses, and 1500 archers compete in the Naadams throughout the country. The main festival is held in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, on our tour we chose to see a rural festival in the Khovsgul Provence. Leaving our camp at 830am we retraced our journey by 4WD over bumpy roads for 2 hours before reaching our festival destination. Mongolians rode by horse or came by vehicle were from all over the Provence to see this spectacular and colourful event. It was a perfect sunny day with a light breeze as we arrived and found a place to park our vehicles. It was a perfect location The area close to the river with tall spruce pines as a backdrop local people selling their handicraft of several items made of yak, hand made items made from yak bone, jewellery, children's toys and items made of reindeer skin.
Our lovely guide found a perfect position to watch the opening ceremony, there were male and female dancers showing their agility and skill by performing acrobatics. Next we were treated to a throat singing performance which is a traditional way if singing. Next the wrestlers entered the arena, wrestling is a national classic sport and art. Some who had been honoured to wear the traditional wrestlers costume would compete with a less experienced wrestler or volunteers from the crowd who were disadvantaged as they were wearing their own type of dress. The fallen wrestler usually the volunteer untied his best and snug shirts which means "I respect your strength ". The winner then proceeds to the platform with flags to show his respect and also honor his own victory. Lunch was at a local restaurant were our own personal chef from our Ger camp prepared deluxe virus mutton dumplings and pickle. We were very much looking forward to the afternoon event of Archery performed by women, and Horse racing where the jockeys are traditional little children. Our huge exciting day came to an end with a visit to a nomad family, on arrival the daughter of the family was milking the yaks whilst the baby yaks were tied to the fence, once the mother yak had been milked it was the babies turn. Yaks live to approximately 16, and during that period they have up to 9 yaks. Yaks are used for milk, skin. And meat. There are 57 million live stock in Mongolia and 3 million people so meat is a very important food commodity. We were very privileged to be invited into their ger (home) were we were presented with first a bowl of delicious curd, home made bread and several shots of vodka which warmed us up up considerably, and much laughter was shared by both parties. On leaving we presented the family with small gifts. Returning to our camp at 7pm we went direct to dinner, on the menu tonight was BBQ of mutton, salad and potatoes followed by a glass of red wine. Outside our gers the celebration of the festival continued with a huge bonfire, singing dancing and more vodka. I am sure we will all enjoy an undisturbed nights sleep. Tomorrow we return to Ulaanbaatar for 2 night before flying to the Gobi Dessert.