new blog

sorry if anyone stopped by this blog and was disappointed at my laziness.

wordpress, you can’t serf in China without a proxy server, and in some places, can’t serf period.

i have new blog, i have been lazy, so not much writing. i have tried to compensate by posting (too many) pictures on my flickr.

the below are the addresses:

new blog  http://yongwantstotravel.tistory.com/

pictures  http://www.flickr.com/photos/yongwantstotravel/

 

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Day 48 (6/30/11): Bayan Nuur Sum, Olgii

I am still full in the morning, sick of vodka

Apparently, mare milking starts today. Because of the harsh winters of the past, it is first time in 4 years to do so! Good for them!

So what happens is that they get the horses to the ger area, and with the whoop catch mares. There is one stallion for like five mares. Each mare has a pony.

So all the mother horses are tied, and pulled to the place where they have a rope tied to the ground. Ponies follow (as does the father). Then, the baby horses are tied to the rope on the ground, which is a very difficult task, but when successful, mother horses and a father horse will stick around this area. This is the milking place. This thing is done by community effort. A lot of people are involved pretty much. Difficult and dangerous.

After this is done, the father horse’s forehead and backs are smudged with butter (because butter is the most difficult dairy to make for the nomads – most “expensive”). Then, “cheshew,” which is basically everyone in the area (like 6-7 families plus some guests) come, and they all bring tea, candies, and other dairy products to celebrate.

This is a long process…

Then, a woman (who has to wear trousers for safety, although I am not sure how this helps with safety?) comes, and milks each mare. A strong man or two or three have to come and hold the pony, and make sure that the mare’s feet are tied in a way that she can’t kill the woman trying to milk her. This has to be done every hour because mares give little milk at a time, but for a longer period of time (I guess…?).

Interesting fact: apparently, some stallions get jealous of the mares who get attention from the babies and humans, that at night they eat their babies. So men have to watch them constantly.

Horses had sex. It’s really quick, and horse penis is really big.

Then we drink, eat, played cards. My friend from the top of the mountain (with whom I played the stone guessing game) came too. His name is really long, but he goes by “Kara” because of his dark skin (lol). He kept calling me Yuan, and the women laughed, saying “yuan, Chinese togrog!” Whatever floats the boat, yeah?

And drink drink drink, milk milk milk.

After my final dinner, the father gave me an eagle claw (as a sword that will get me through the hardship), his brother gave me an English-Kazakh-Mongolian phrasebook that he made (apparently fluent in Russian, not in English…(?)) and wished that I travel safely everywhere in the world. The father gave me a kiss (Kazakhs do this when they say goodbye or hello). The mother packed for me yogurt, arol, and bislik (so nice).

Horse ride back to the road… I am getting used to it, I can ride it quite swiftly now. We stopped on the way to drink some river water. I tried to be careful since you never know but they insisted that this is fresher than bottled water, so I succumbed, and it was delicious. (hopefully my stomach will be okay…I feel like my stomach is now ready for everything in the world…so lactose tolerant, hygiene tolerant, and also alcohol tolerant at this point); I was very dizzy when I got on the horse!

Then home.

The driver guy is kind of fishy, but he is really nice. I am sleeping in one of his Mongolian gers. I needed some soup to sober my system up, so dropped by a market to buy ramen (some Chinese version of cup ramen) and water, but at home, his daughters had prepared a whole meal for us… with tea, dumpling soup, everything. Even hot sauce! I put some hot sauce in the soup and drank the fatty soup, which was good, I feel so much better now.

Apparently airplane is 12 tomorrow (some confusion because the ticket goes by UB time…). Tomorrow is Friday, so hopefully I will catch some Muslim prayers, mosques…And I want to buy a Kazakh hat, and some things for jiyun noona and keun umma!

Safe flight tomorrow! (I have my passport and ticket in hand now, phew)

I think I got fat in that ger. Ate way too much. Gained maybe half the weight I lost at Arhangai..damn hospitable Kazakhs…I love them.

 

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Day 47 (6/29/11): Bayan Nuur Sum

Morning woke up late because of yesterday’s vodka, headache in the morning

It also rained a lot in the morning, so the whole morning chore got delayed; so the milking, separating baby and adult animals finished only by around ten o clock

Then, the two families came to our area for moving, with all of their furnitures and gers in their trucks; they were helping each other build the new houses for the families (they are apparently relatives of the man here), and the young wife of this family was churning the yogurts (to make the sour dairy stuff)

Apparently you have to churn for 2 hours, and this woman is fucking amazing, very strong and persistent with her speed and power

After lunch (the noodle soup with lots of meat and fat), the three of us went to visit the young wife’s parents’ house. It was actually pretty far away, maybe an hour and a half ride. The man seemed to complain a bit because we were riding really slow, so I tried a bit to rush, but to no avail. Oh well what can I do right

So we meet the parents…apparently the young couple couldn’t get their permission, so they had an affair first and told them (lol); apparently this is how most Kazakh men and women marry

A beautiful ride anyways

So this old couple have many children, yaddi yaddi yadda, during the communist times apparently won the state honor of being an exceptional herder; so the translator woman told me yesterday that during the socialist times, every animal was state property, and it was thought that each person was the worker; they took care of animals and got salary for it (every family had same number of animals, and if not taking care of animals right, lower salary); so this man apparently was a great herder, multiplied a lot of state’s animals, and had medals

We finished one bottle of vodka and lots of tea, and the man’s daughter (or daughter in law) was making some horse meat stuff for us. So we moved to their ger right next to the parents’, ate, and I took their pictures (they got all dressed up and pretty for the picrtures)

Apparently above the mountain here leads to Khovd aimag, and lots of Mongolians live there

This couple apparently come from parents who grew up in northern Xinjiang area; but early 20th century, political and social climate in the region was not ideal, and they came here to find peace (rightfully so). They said they are thankful that they live in Mongolia now, and whenever they see the suffering people in other parts of the world (like Xinjiang), they feel very bad and thankful at the same time. And we finished another bottle of vodka (fml).

They said if I get married, I need to come back, and sleep in their ger.

ON the way back, I tried to go faster, and it worked maybe because I was a bit tipsy and got fearless. We stopped by a site where family was milking their goats, took pictures and pissed, and went to a ger where there lives a 92 year old woman, and they have mare’s milk.

They gave us milk (very good, not too sour, sweet, maybe because not fermented for a long time, but still very tasty); I had maybe four cups. And lots of pictures of everyone (pretty much) in the neighborhood, made me feel very good. A family then invited me to their ger, the translator lady was too hungover and refused to come with us, but I went, and we finished another bottle of vodka and had lots of tea.

On the way back, we stopped by another old man’s ger; he was apparently complaining that we have been passing by his ger for the past 3 days without visiting them (wow, such hospitable and people loving people); so we went, I asked that we don’t drink more vodka or else I might fall off the horse, and we had some yogurt, I took their pictures…

These are such hospitable people, only thing I can do is take pictures of them and send it to them. I asked that tomorrow too I take lots of pictures of people who want them.

The translator told me about a Japanese couple who came, and how they annoyed the hell out of her because they were being (Japanese way) polite, asking everything, if it is okay, etc… She said she was very glad that I was not Japanese… apparently couldn’t drink milk nor afraid of horse. They went to western Bayan Olgii, and people there are not so hospitalbe because there are many tourists there… (unlike here, where this family is pretty much the only family that has seen many foreigners)

Long time ago, foreigners=spies from russia?

Kazakhs also don’t like Chinese (Wars in the past)

Before, camels did all the moving, no car roads, but the man sys nothing changed much from the past (wow)

So we came, kids playing basketball now (countryside style), and the family didn’t eat, watiting for us (omg       ! fml!), so I ate some more.

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Day 47 (6/29/11): Bayan Nuur Sum

Morning woke up late because of yesterday’s vodka, headache in the morning

It also rained a lot in the morning, so the whole morning chore got delayed; so the milking, separating baby and adult animals finished only by around ten o clock

Then, the two families came to our area for moving, with all of their furnitures and gers in their trucks; they were helping each other build the new houses for the families (they are apparently relatives of the man here), and the young wife of this family was churning the yogurts (to make the sour dairy stuff)

Apparently you have to churn for 2 hours, and this woman is fucking amazing, very strong and persistent with her speed and power

After lunch (the noodle soup with lots of meat and fat), the three of us went to visit the young wife’s parents’ house. It was actually pretty far away, maybe an hour and a half ride. The man seemed to complain a bit because we were riding really slow, so I tried a bit to rush, but to no avail. Oh well what can I do right

So we meet the parents…apparently the young couple couldn’t get their permission, so they had an affair first and told them (lol); apparently this is how most Kazakh men and women marry

A beautiful ride anyways

So this old couple have many children, yaddi yaddi yadda, during the communist times apparently won the state honor of being an exceptional herder; so the translator woman told me yesterday that during the socialist times, every animal was state property, and it was thought that each person was the worker; they took care of animals and got salary for it (every family had same number of animals, and if not taking care of animals right, lower salary); so this man apparently was a great herder, multiplied a lot of state’s animals, and had medals

We finished one bottle of vodka and lots of tea, and the man’s daughter (or daughter in law) was making some horse meat stuff for us. So we moved to their ger right next to the parents’, ate, and I took their pictures (they got all dressed up and pretty for the picrtures)

Apparently above the mountain here leads to Khovd aimag, and lots of Mongolians live there

This couple apparently come from parents who grew up in northern Xinjiang area; but early 20th century, political and social climate in the region was not ideal, and they came here to find peace (rightfully so). They said they are thankful that they live in Mongolia now, and whenever they see the suffering people in other parts of the world (like Xinjiang), they feel very bad and thankful at the same time. And we finished another bottle of vodka (fml).

They said if I get married, I need to come back, and sleep in their ger.

ON the way back, I tried to go faster, and it worked maybe because I was a bit tipsy and got fearless. We stopped by a site where family was milking their goats, took pictures and pissed, and went to a ger where there lives a 92 year old woman, and they have mare’s milk.

They gave us milk (very good, not too sour, sweet, maybe because not fermented for a long time, but still very tasty); I had maybe four cups. And lots of pictures of everyone (pretty much) in the neighborhood, made me feel very good. A family then invited me to their ger, the translator lady was too hungover and refused to come with us, but I went, and we finished another bottle of vodka and had lots of tea.

On the way back, we stopped by another old man’s ger; he was apparently complaining that we have been passing by his ger for the past 3 days without visiting them (wow, such hospitable and people loving people); so we went, I asked that we don’t drink more vodka or else I might fall off the horse, and we had some yogurt, I took their pictures…

These are such hospitable people, only thing I can do is take pictures of them and send it to them. I asked that tomorrow too I take lots of pictures of people who want them.

The translator told me about a Japanese couple who came, and how they annoyed the hell out of her because they were being (Japanese way) polite, asking everything, if it is okay, etc… She said she was very glad that I was not Japanese… apparently couldn’t drink milk nor afraid of horse. They went to western Bayan Olgii, and people there are not so hospitalbe because there are many tourists there… (unlike here, where this family is pretty much the only family that has seen many foreigners)

Long time ago, foreigners=spies from russia?

Kazakhs also don’t like Chinese (Wars in the past)

Before, camels did all the moving, no car roads, but the man sys nothing changed much from the past (wow)

So we came, kids playing basketball now (countryside style), and the family didn’t eat, watiting for us (omg       ! fml!), so I ate some more.

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Day 46 (6/28/11): Bayan Nuur Sum

Morning, again the translator person wakes up really late and the owner man has to make the last resort of waking her up; she is very embarrassed about this (lol)

All the old people from the village (head and wife of each family) went to the funeral; it was nice to see the people all dressed up (not in their traditional clothes, but definitely in formal wear, perhaps to the old Soviet style(?)), jump on their horses and make their ways to wherever they were going.

AM, the translator was going to stay, and I go with one of the dudes who came by and slept with us last night (apparently his family is moving here today), the son of this ger up to the mountains where they take care of animals grazing. So this mountain looked really high from the ground, so I was a little bit worried about the walk (especially if he makes this walk every single day…I would not be able to catch up with him), but we are apparently riding horses up there.

So it’s going to be much more comfortable, but I am not an expert in horse riding (yesterday was pretty much the first time I was riding a horse free style by myself), and climbing a high mountain on a horse…(?). The thought kind of terrified me, and our journey only amplified this horror.

The path upwards reminded me of a scene from the documentary, The Tea and Horse Road, which runs from western Yunnan/Sichuan to Northern India, through the Himalayas; basically, the narrator of the documentary was saying how there is only a narrow path throughout this whole road, and sometimes, the horse or a person slips and falls down the cliff and forever disappears. This case, well, I probably would not disappear forever, but there was a very narrow pathway…perhaps narrow for even one person to walk comfortably; and beyond that was a cliff…

So we rode for about an hour and a half maybe…and we went above the clouds (good thing since it didn’t rain up there). You could see the whole village from the top, rocky mountain tops, and between the mountains were very big pasture lands, and the sheep and goats were grazing there. And this, although very thrilling (Kazakh dudes were so chill about it, I guess it must be not that dangerous…), it ended up being one of the most beautiful things I have seen in Mongolia (and I have travelled to most of the places in Mongolia famous for their scenary)…

One thing though was that my butt (and the crotch area) started to hurt a lot…By watching the other guys, I guess the secret is to kind of sit with one of your hip for half a minute or so to relieve the pressure on your ass, but this I was not completely comfortable to do yet…

One funny thing is that on top of this mountain, there is a cellphone signal. (oh, Mongolia…you make people come up…this…high???), and the two guys were making phone calls here.

Also men packed yogurt/other dairy products, so they can drink them when hungry… This is how they conquered the world, eh?

On top of the mountain, we met a neighbor guy who was herding his animals. One guy from yesterday went to make a more private phone call (maybe to his girlfriend? Lol), and I exchanged some basic words with the neighboring guy in small Mongolian I knew. Then, we played a game where we all started with 10 stones. Every round, all of us choose some stones, and we guess the number of stones held in all the players’ hands. The winner takes all the stones from the round. Like this, we go until someone loses all of his stones. (you can do “empty hand” for 3 rounds before losing completely actually).

And I lost. The guy said the punishment for the next round’s loser was to herd all the goats and sheep back to where we were lying down and playing games (they were about to cross a peak on the other side of the mountain at this point, and if they all moved over we would have had to all go and either sit by them or bring them over). This was an exciting opportunity, I almost lost, but then the sheep was already passing the peak and it looked like it was raining a lot in the lower land. So I and the young guy came down, while the two men decided to stay up.

Way down, I was more worried about, because people tend to slip more easily when descending (and horses can’t be exception). We descended a bit, talking. He is apparently 17 years old, goes to school in Olgii. In the upcoming year, he will be a college student studying dentistry in Olgii. He also said that he is a basketball champion.

Good thing though is that about halfway down, when we are about to enter the thrilling region with narrow path that I have discussed above, we got off the horse and walked. It was a good walk, but it started to pour more as we were going down, and I was completely soaked.

In small ger, where there is fire. The lady gave me and the translator warm milk (overheated, so it was kind of sweet…due to the burned off scrapes from the pot), tea, and we talked about how some Koreans can’t digest milk (lactose intolerance), and how some people like to only eat plants (vegetarian). She told me that when Kazakhs were watching Korean dramas (apparently Jumong was the most popular thing that ever came out of TV or something), all the old people (who hate rice and cabbage) were saying: “wow, why are they not eating any meat? They are only eating rice and cabbage and grass (maybe referring to namul, or soup)!”. Well, Kazakhs and Mongolians hate things that we like to eat, but they are really bigger, stronger, and taller…

Then we sang as punishment. I sang (again) Jindo Arirang, the other people sang the songs that I heard on the bus. The girl brought dombra, played it while singing.

And we ate goat meat, horse meat, and rice drenched in salt and oil.

Yogurt you apparently make by adding a bit of yogurt from last night to warm (not hot) milk). I guess this is basically growing the bacteria culture in warm environment.. I asked where they get the first yogurt (how do they make it anyways???), and they responded, saying that they always have yogurt…In winter they freeze it, so they can just melt it and have yogurt all the time, and when summer comes, make yogurt. But where do they get the first yogurt??? They apparently don’t know…(maybe I have to ask an older woman).

Just relaxed afternoon, partly because of the rain; they say that it didn’t rain much before we came, but it’s been raining pretty much every day since I came here. They say it is good for the animals, but annoying for the herders/nomads who can’t use (nonexistent) dried dung, and woods become too dark

Asked about Mongolia in communist time, educational system, etc… The translator said that Socialist Mongolia was the happiest times of her life!

She also asked me if it is really true that people are starving to death in some places (as seen on TV). I have no idea, but I said probably… Mongolia is ranked really low in the statistics, but life quality is very high in the countryside especially; people have plenty of food, clothes, houses (basically all coming from the animals), and they are extremely happy, and fat oftentimes… So I really don’t know if other places ranked low, too, are like Mongolia or what…(because some popular conceptions of Mongolia are that of pity….)

An animal doctor came because apparently (as they heard at the funeral) there is a poisonous grass in the mountains that has killed an animal the night before, and he has vaccine. So after milking cows and sheep/goats, the doctor vaccinated each animal.

The dinner was khaz again, which was quiet good.

After that we drank. The translator lady said it is because today a lot of relatives and friends are coming, and they all know her as teacher from the secondary school no.2, and she can’t let people know that the teacher drinks! And we are leaving the day after tomorrow, so it is custom to drink, as the guests offer to the host.

Some funny stories by the man: he has been hosting since 2000

A british doctor man, who brought four servants with him, and broke his finger while riding the horse (the strongest horse of the family failed to hold him for over five kilometers), when the man helped him fit the bone, the British doctor would not believe him and organize his own meeting (it was December so they were in the winter house), call UB, and try to get a surgery. The man is very bewildered, and also humiliated (lol)

Some foreigners are rich, some are just students like me

People here are amazingly hospitable, in how they treat the guests and also of the foreigners. Uncomparable to the other parts of the county that I have visited before… Perhaps the purity of it

Anyways drank four bottles… and the translator woman got pretty tipsy

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Day 45 (6/27/11): Bayan Nuur Sum

The average, perhaps bland life that is spiced up by small surprises. Perhaps that is what life is to be. Nothing grand, no grand strategy to conquer the world, but simple, repetitive, yet with meaningful variations.

Morning for instance greeted by the baby’s smiling face. It is strange to see how such simple scene can automatically bring smile to its viewers…almost as if it is programmed in our genes, in our human instinct. Morning started that way…

Then some tea…

It rained overnight, and a new horse is born.

Lunch – Mongolian noodle soup kind of thing except without any vegetables – I haven’t had any vegetable here except a piece of mountain onion. The life here seems much more self-sustainable than other Mongolian people I have visited; hardly any bought products are consumed (except the flour in this case); so much meat in the soup too

Apparently no prayer if the food is served in small bowls Mongolian style; in large bowl, there is prayer

It seems that the man is a bit hung over from yesterday’s drinking, according to the translator lady. I hold an eagle and take a picture, kind of funny how touristy the eagle part of this is, lol.

Afterwards, we go on horse riding trip to a nearby neighboring people who are moving today. So we visit one, take pictures, help a little, and eat a lot of milk, cheese, and bunch of various dairy product. Of course, one vodka here.

Then, another moving ger. Here the same thing. By now I must have had about 30 cups of tea, I am so full fml.

Then there is apparently a 93 year old man, the oldest man in this som, and we go visit him because he asked that anyone with a camera come visit and take a picture of him and what not. Apaprently recognized as an honorable figure by the state government, he served in WW2 and what not. Has 16 children (wowza).

Pictures, very beautiful ger here.

SO full now, omg..

Come back to the home ger, have more tea…and dinner which is tsuivan without vegetables. FML im so full.

And then apparently a neighbor invited us again…so I eat more tea, more food (khaz).

And take pictures of a guy who bought a nice horse for nadaam, they are throwing cheese and shit to people (like Korean wedding…?) – apparently they do it in Kazakh wedding too

Apparently wedding in 10 days – not of the locals but someone’s family members now studying in Kazakhstan; they are coming here just for the wedding ceremony…kind of funny, eh?

Someone died: funeral tomorrow but only male heads attend so I don’t go…

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Day 44 (6/26/11): Bayan Nuur Sum

 

Morning chores, carpets, killing a goat Kazakh style, explanation about eagles, playing card, losing and vodka, vodka, the eagle is too fat and heavy today maybe tomorrow…Little kids climb the rocks and cliffs….crazy…

 

Lunch: liver+fat, quiet good

 

Dinner(?): so they apparently take turns cooking, and we had some stomach, blood, and hip meat (fat??), quiet good as well

 

We played cards, and after some vodka, a friend of the father showed his “41 Kazakh jewels,” which are actually from vodka bottles, but anyhow, he said he could do fortune telling. For instance, if an animal is missing or something… So for fun, I asked when will I get married, and they did some magic, told me that someone is in love with me, waiting for me in US, and as soon as I go back I will get married (wow). I am a bit doubtful, but wouldn’t it be delightful if this were true…?

 

Lots of yogurt, sour stuff (they add this to the stomach soup as well), milk tea, milk, cheese, dried yogurt, so much tea…They really drink about 5-10 liters of tea everyday…wow

 

The driver guy (apparently a politician and a famous Olgii journalist so I trusted him) left, with my 370000 T and passport…He better be a good guy…

 

Most ideal place for washing clothes

 

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