As is the tradition in Mongolia, as we reached the borders of Undershill - out in the middle of nowhere from my urban perspective - we were met by various villagers who offered a silver bowl of sweet goat's milk wrapped in a blue khatag (offering scarf, they use white in Tibet, blue in Mongolia). Everyone took a sup, starting with Rinpoche of course. Here I am goofing around with my pal Enkhtuya, the Asral cook who accompanied us. Rinpoche travels with a small entourage - his "team" he called us when speaking to the local governor. [all photos by me - more to be posted over on my Book Blog]
Here's a quick pic of me in front of the Chinghis Khan statue that dominates Sukhbaatar Square in the centre of Ulan Baatar, the capital city of Mongolia. I got the day off to visit the National Museum - fantastic - and wander around the city in the sunshine. Still trying to recover from the fact that I deleted all my photos from the giant horse race, including a shot of me on a horse for the first time in my life! Must finish packing and get to bed. Early start tomorrow.(Photo credit: unknown Mongolian teenager who kindly obliged my request despite ribbing from her pals. "Speak English!" they called out, all giggling.)
Not quite. The only bona fide is Utleya in the middle. That's Stephanie on the left, Canadian-born Singaporean recent graduate of Cambridge (brains to burn) who is a volunteer English teacher for ASRAL, my lama's charity, and that's moi on the right. If you think we are being typical westerners dressing up like this, you're wrong. We were the only two westerners in sight amongst up to 10,000 people, maybe more. Everyone else getting into the costumes to be photographed was Mongolian. This was part of the great craic going on the day Mongolia went for the Guinness Book of Records largest horse race ever held in the world (August 10). There was one more westerner in the vast crowd. The representative from Guinness. (Didn't get her name alas.) And that's a gorgeous live falcon in front of us. Falconry is one of the national sports of Mongolia along with wrestling, archery and horse racing. The amazing thing about the headdress I am wearing is that it not only shows where Star Wars got Queen Amidala's style but also, some of you may remember, Pauline Bayne's illustration of the Queen of the Harfang giants in CS Lewis's The Silver Chair. (Photo credit: Stephanie Ng)
Well, here I am at the airport near Ulaan Baatar, the capital city of Mongolia. You can see the Bogd Khan mountain range reflected in the window. They are sacred, the first protected mountains in the world. I'm listening studiously to my lama as he is being interviewed by Mongolian television after a l4-hour trip (?maybe more - quick stop in Bishkek, Kurdistan) from Dublin to Istanbul and on to UB via Turkish Airlines - Business Class, ooh la la, the only way to fly! Beside me is a young monk and to my left is a translator monk (who translated for H.H. the Dalai Lama when he came to Mongolia) and the abbot of Lam Rim Monastery, UB. I look well after such a long trip, no doubt due to excessive comfort. The food was only gorgeous. Would highly recommend this airline. More pics on Book Blog. (Photo credit: Ueli Minder)
I was born in Ireland and grew up in Toronto, Canada with my seven sisters and two brothers. Left home at seventeen to live in a commune, then headed off across Canada with my pal, Carole, and we hitch-hiked around California for months, then back up to Vancouver(Van as we called it then) and across Canada with two more pals, Linda and Peggy. A year later, headed off to Malaysia and Borneo with Jeunesse Canada Monde/Canada World Youth for a year. Baik-lah! Back home, went to Trinity College at the University of Toronto (posh blokes) while also joining the Canadian Naval Reserve as an Officer Cadet. Trained on the east and west coasts of Canada every summer. Great fun. Then what? Hmm. Started to write books, dodgy personal life (that's personal but let's just say it's been a long time between drinks) started to wander around the world, had a darling daughter, settled down in Ireland, wrote more books.