Potanin Glacier, Altai Mountains, Mongolia. Photo by Rom Welborn.
J. Gerel feels sorry for the 12000 trees that have been removed from Gachuurt Mountain by illegal loggers. He has promised to carve 2500 tree stumps into rabbits so the disappeared trees can express themselves.
According to a recent United States State Department report, the only item American president Barack Obama kept for himself out of $250,000 of gifts given to him by foreign heads of state in 2011 was a copy of this book, which was given to him by Mongolian president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.
The controversial book documents the ideas conquered European lands got from the Mongolian Empire, such as the morin khuur leading to the invention of the violin, Ulugh Begh’s astronomical maps, paper money, roads built for trading, and religious tolerance.
This morin khuur (traditional Mongolian stringed instrument) is made of carved wild goat bone, with horse hair strings. It took B.Altanchimeg over a year to collect and carve the bones.
April 9th, Tsatsral Erdenebileg broke the world record for holding the “Marinelli bend” for two minutes and thirty four seconds, supporting herself with her teeth. My teeth hurt just looking at this.
The previous record, 50 seconds, was held by a different Mongolian contortionist, Oyungerel Luvsandorj. Mongolia has several schools that teach contortion, and it is a well-respected art form there.
Suekhbaatar, Mongolia — I was wandering an hour or so outside the town of Baruun Urt, and I saw a nomad riding by. I waved to him and he trotted up. His name was Taava, friendly guy. Invited me to his yurt for dinner. The family had just slaughtered a goat.
After dinner I went with him to water his horses.
Mongolia is horse country, and Mongolians are good horsemen. Some foreigners who come to Mongolia also dream of adventures with horses. Alas, the foreigners are often not such good horsemen.
I met one traveler who had bought a pack horse and planned to spend a month trekking around Mongolia with his horse. He’d bought all his provisions and was just finishing packing everything on the animal — all his food, camping supplies, everything he needed for a month. He was nearly done packing and was tightening the straps, and then suddenly something fell off the load, and the horse got spooked and took off running. That guy ran after the horse but couldn’t catch it, of course. He never saw it again. Lost everything, all his food, all his luggage and, of course, the horse itself.
But it was a lucky day for some poor nomad somewhere out on the steppe!
Flag outside a shopt selling incense, charms, and prayer flags. Darkhan, Mongolia.
The khiimori (wind horse) symbolizes the human spirit.