Outer Mongolia

Mongolia, Outer Mongolia

We headed out from Ulan Bator to stay in an old run-down soviet era hotel out in the plain. On the way we had a man in our bus. He said that his grandfather was in the government of the country after the end of the Qing empire in 1912. He bemoaned the fact that the lands of inner Mongolia had voted to be part of China proper. He said that the population was more than half han and they had voted to be in the country when outer Mongolia had voted to not be.

He also said that there was no land ownership in Mongolia as they were a nomadic people. In the city you had to ask permission from the council to get a spot to erect your gir, but beyond the city you could go where you wanted and erect what you wanted where suited you.

On the bus, we headed out into the plain, but then up into the hills. Walking across the plain, I was amazed by the sheer variety of plants in each square meter, even though the vegetation was very short and close to the ground.

Even though we were there in summer, there was still snow on the ground in protected spots between the trees.

One of the nicer buildings of Ulan Bator
One of the nicer buildings of Ulan Bator by jystewart

The hotel was interesting. There were other foreign travellers there. A Japanese musician played music outside with his girlfriend watching. The building itself was falling apart. The climate was very harsh, the soviet era building standards abysmal. Disintegration was the call of the day, concrete cancer well and truly set in. Near by was the gir quarter. It was over a small creek. I was astonished when a women came out of the girs, dressed in short stylish black skirts and high heels to head down the muddy path, over the stones in the creek, to the run down hotel where they worked. She would have looked fashionable in Sydney. These indeed were signs of progress. I guess new clothes are one of the first things you can afford as your income levels increase.

Mongolia, Outer Mongolia

We visited a gir, set up for the tourists, though I think that the family did live there. We did a bit of pony riding and had some Mongolian food which was bread and yoghurt from an endless tub of fermenting yoghurt. I did think of the old Mongolian BBQ. I never saw anything like it in Mongolia. This got me thinking. I guessed that it was they Chinese idea of what Mongolian eat. It was only when I got back form my trip that I did some research and discovered that the Mongolian BBQ is a post WWII eating system invented by some Taiwanese chefs. The stories about using shields for cooking is the result of clever marketing men. Though I think Mongolian Lamb is a Chinese dish.


More photos or video tagged with Mongolia on Flickr

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