Friday, August 30, 2013

In the Gobi

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]

This is where we slept - the back room of the MIM (Made in Mongolia) Gobi factory - Enkhtoya the cook, Nyamsurr the social worker and myself. Two nights. Very comfy actually. Slept like a log.

And this is where we ate. Also hung out, drinking suutei tsai (milky tea) or norguun tsai (green tea). Traditional and regular Mongolian country home called a ger.

Beautiful Mongolian child - daughter of the Undershill cook - at the teachings Rinpoche gave in the community centre hall.

Inside the circular temple where the villagers were chanting a billion om mane padme hum's (takes three hours) for Rinpoche after he gave a teaching in the community centre hall to a packed crowd.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Heading for the Gobi

No time to post in detail as I have a report to write! However, here's a glimpse of the Mongolian countryside - altan nytag - as we head for the Gobi.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Off to the Gobi Desert Tomorrow!

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.)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mongolian Women

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)

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Arrival in Mongolia!

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)