Events & Naadam
Things to do in Mongolia №2
- Look into the crater of a volcano
Mongolia is full of “Martian” landscapes, but some are particularly striking. In the central part of the country lies the large lake Terkhiin Tsagaan (White, if translated). On a clear day, it reflects clouds driven by a strong wind and a blue-mild sky. Add to the landscape the cone of the volcano and the lava fields - and you will get beyond beauty. Especially if you do not forget about the polarizing filter for the camera.
The extinct volcano Khorgo is located east of the lake. You can climb it and, freezing with delight and horror, look right into the crater. If climbing is not your path, just wander among the frozen lava flows, trying not to think about what happened here on the Day X. You can spend the night on the lake in in a yurt camp. The Khorgo Lake and Volcano are part of the Khorgo Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park.
- Try salty tea and learn how to eat buuz /Mongolian dumpling/
The cuisine of Mongolia npeople, like other nomadic peoples, is simple and satisfying. Forget about asparagus and broccoli, but there is plenty of dough and meat. Buuz, steam Mongolian dumplings with a generous meat filling, you will like from the first try. There are taken by hand. First you need to bite a buuz and drink meat broth from it, and then take on everything else. Khuushuur are almost the same as buuz, only they are deep-fried and not steamed. In any yurt-dining room in the middle of the steppe you will be prepared with tsuivan - homemade noodles with meat, without frills, but tasty.
The favorite drink of the Mongols is Sutei Tsai, green tiled tea with milk, salt and sometimes butter. For those who are on a diet, we inform you: sometimes they put dumplings in it - such a dish is called banshtai tsai. You can polish a hearty dinner with fighters - slices of dough, deep-fried, or aaruul - dried sweet curds.
- Improve Karma at Gandan Monastery
Buddhism came to Mongolia from Tibet, incorporating traditional beliefs. The soil turned out to be fertile: by the beginning of the 20th century, there were more than 700 monasteries in Mongolia, in which 110 thousand monks lived - about a third of the male population. During the repressions of the late 30s, most monasteries were destroyed, and Buddhism remained disgraced right up to the 90s.
Gandan was the first to open in Ulan Bator, back in 1944. Until 1990, it was the only one, and still is the main monastery of the country. It is fully called Gandantegchenlin - "a great place full of joy", and as if exported from Tibet. Bright ornaments, multi-colored multi-armed deities, soaring corners of roofs, monks in burgundy robes - after the gray streets of Ulaanbataar you find yourself in another world. In the main temple is the famous 26-meter statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara - a copy of what was lost during the Second World War. In order to feel your involvement, and at the same time invest in karma, spin the prayer drums, walking clockwise around the stupa, and feed the pigeons along with laughing Mongolian children.
- Attend at Naadam festival
Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery - three traditional sports at a time can be seen on the main Mongolian festival. It is called Naadam (in Mongolian -Eriin Gurvan Naadam), literally translated as "three men's games", and falls on July 11-13. The whole country is celebrating, but the epicenter of the holiday is in Ulaanbaatar. Archers and wrestlers compete in the Central Stadium. Long-distance races are arranged outside the city: from 15 to 30 km, depending on the age of the horse. Surprisingly, riders are usually from 5 to 13 years old - this is where the true children of the steppes.
A spectacular joy is walking around the holiday city among the amusing locals in national clothes and numerous tents with games, souvenirs and food. Try yourself in unofficial sports: eating khushuurs (during Naadam they should be eaten to the dump) and drinking liters of koumiss.
- Hear throat singing
Throat singing is akin to hypnosis: you absorb these strange sounds and involuntarily concentrate on your thoughts, you come to a state similar to trance. It is not for nothing that Tibetan monks and shamans use the technique of throat singing. Its specificity is that the singer, in a special way working the larynx and pharynx and straining certain muscles of the body, extracts several tones at the same time. It turns out the noise of the wind on a thunderstorm night, the growling of a wolf, the cries of birds, but not human singing.
This technique was born, as is believed, in the Mongolian Altai. The most common among Mongolian people is the Hoomii style, as they call the Mongol throat singing in general. You can experience unusual art in Ulaanbaatar at the performance of the ensemble Tumen Ekh. In an hour, the artists manage to demonstrate several different types of traditional Mongolian music, singing and dancing, as well as colorful national costumes.
- Learn to pronounce Mongolian “Thank You”
If you are not going further than Ulaanbaatar, you can relax about the language. The capital speaks good English, especially if you start conversations with attractive young ladies, and not with their parents. The older generation sometimes knows Russian. But in the rest of Mongolia there is a few people know English and Russian.
“Sain baina uu” (hello), “Bayarlalaa” (thank you) and “bayartai” (goodbye) - even a minimum of Mongolian will simplify communication with local residents. It’s a good idea to print out on A4 sheet and take with you a short Mongolian phrasebook, just ignore phrases like “get around the swamp”, you still can’t pronounce it, and it’s of little use. If there is not enough cheat sheet, go to the international language - facial expressions and gestures, this is a great development of imagination. In the most difficult cases, you can use the dictionary on your phone (make sure that it works offline).
Seeing once is better than hearing thousand times!
Enjoy and love Mongolia with us ...