Friday, November 25, 2005

Mixed Bizness

Just got back to stability after a week of travel around Japan by myself, and while I will have stories from that in just a few, I thought I'd take a chance, while I have a frieends pictures availible to me, and post some pictures from the trip so far for my family who has been so desperately requesting them. First lets start with an introduction to the group and a few of our Mongolian friends we madde during our 12 days in the Mongolian country side.



This is everyone in the group, plus a few additions. We have Enis (far left) and Christian (next to me on left) who are from New York and somehow connected to Elisabeth (our program director) through their parents in New York. They were traveling the continent, taking the transiberian railroad from Moscow to Bejing with a small stop with us in Mongolia. We also have Edwena, an friend of Elisabeth also from New York (the elder women on the right). On the bottom row center is the Abbott, as you might be able to tell from his bright red buddhist preist style Deel. You might remember him as the organizer of the trip to Hovsgol in Mongolia and general mystery man. Next to him on the right is an elder mongolian of some status local to the province we were in, he was a connection used by the Abbott to find us horses to travel some of the land in that area. On the bottom row far left is Damadorje, a young man who was the driver of the van I was in. He was either (A) MacGyver, for his ability to consistantly repair our horribly malfunctioning transportation or (B) a terrible machanic for allowing his car to break down about once every 5 hours of drive time. He did, however, rebuild a carborator in the Middle of the Mountain Steppes, but it did emit strong gas fumes that filled the van for the remainder of the trip.

The mountains behind us our covered in the first snow of the season (on October 10) in Mongolia that fell the night before (we drove through it, actually, at lower elevations). They are not that far away. River coming from a natural spring is flowing behind us down a gulley that isn't visable. The spring was about maybe 12-20 kilometers away, so we didn't trust the water for cleanness, but it was remarkably clear. It was hard to tell the difference between parts that were 6 inches deep and 6 feet deep. Hovsgol all in all is full of clear water, the Lake it self has well over 130 feet of visability, meaning if you droped a golfball in it, it would be a long time before you lost sight of it. We were able to sample the water directly from the spring a little later in the day. Supposedly it restores health to your liver, heart, kidneys or brain, depending from which spring you drink from.

Speaking of riding horses, I also have these shots. I don't know really how to desribe Mongolian horse riding other than the horses are small (as are most Mongolians) the saddles are cheap, uncomfortable and well broken in, and Mongolians tend to prefer horses that only go fast, breaking a horse to speed control is not a high priority. But they walk just fine and when you get the hang of them, galloping is fun. Mine (whome I called Clyde) was a rare one who did exactly what you wanted. Other were not so lucky. This shot is of a group of straglers which include Edwena, Nima (Elisabeth's Husband) on the far right, the Abbott on the far left, Christian in back and some Mongolians who owned the horses we were riding and made sure we wern't going to get ourselfs killed. Here's Julia, Jenna and Nicole (from left to right) riding off into the mountain peaks.

Also, speaking of the Van's we were riding in, here's a picture of one of them. The best Soviet engineering and Hungarian construction has to offer. Despite all the problems with the vans, they're still the only thing you will see on the "roads" outside of the Imars, or regional capitals. The reason is, of course, because they do not, in anyway, need roads.

Here's a shot of Barry, our professor in Mongolia, explaining something to someone, a favorite pastime of his. He was a really good guy to have around in our first country as he was extremely committed to our class, going on the road trip with us, sleeping in gers with us and even on multiple occasions inviting us to his appparment for pizzia and a movie. His natural curiosity has filled him full of Mongolia facts that showered down on us during our trips into this region, and since he is a professor of ecology and biodiviersity, he was a good one to have around when we started wondering "now how do you tell the difference between a marmot and a pika?"

So when you talk about having full access to you professors, going camping with them for almost two weeks in pretty amazing. Those are good Office Hours.

Here's a cow wandering through one of our geer camps. It happens.

Ulaan Bataar is full of temples belonging to sects of Tibetan Buddhism, and here's a monestery right in the middle of the south side of the city. When we found it, the first day back from our road trip, it had just finished a whole night and morning of light snowing. This was a good day.

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