May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mongolian Countryside!
THIS music video has so much of what we're learning about Mongolia!

July 11
Today starts Nadam, a big celebration of Mongolia, so Haliuna (our hostess) arranged transportation out to the horseracing site.  
fellow passengers
 On the way, the van broke down and so we went across the highway to sample some mare’s milk vodka.  
Haliuna stirring mare's milk
Pretty good!  Then Haliuna took us plus her charming brother, niece (Michelle) and two Chinese tourists (Yan & Feng) up the hill toward a Gur that had horses tied to a line.  
mutton hanging from rafters

 We went inside and sat while a boy slept on the carpet over the grass next to the Buddhist alter with mare’s milk and gifts on it, then we changed to the next door gur that seemed to be the kitchen and hang out area with meat drying on the rafters, a tiny stove in the middle, small cupboard, bed and floor mattress.   
Outside was a decorated motorbike that the cowboy used to bring the horses down the hill.  
They poured us mare’s milk beer--a little more bubbly than the milk vodka.  I offered almonds.  

 Before we left, we watched them milk a horse.   A colt primed the pump, they took away the colt, and she squatted on the left side of the horse (right side gives you sour milk!) 
Another van showed up with Haliuna’s husband and with a toddler asleep in the back seat; and off we went to the races.  As soon as we got there, the children (young!) racing the horses were nearing the finish line.  Folks were hooting them encouragement.  The children wore bright colors and the horses looked tired after 20 K running.  There is only grass and a strong smelling plant that reminded my sinuses of sage in our West.  One can see several days walk in one eyeful, like the tundra in Alaska.   

We went to a beef Kabob seller and ate the best food we’ve had yet.  Rain was in the distance when Les and I went waaay down the hill to see the booths with calligraphy, 
folklore, felting, archery, a stage etc., but of course it had closed 10 minutes earlier.  Trainers, and horse riders of all ages were riding the range; one beat me to the outhouse and kept hold of the reigns while he was inside. J  It was cold when we returned to the van, and they bought VERY (exploded and spilled when opened) greasy pocket breads filled with mutton.  Haliuna left her hat at the family’s gur, so we headed back; but on the way, the driver wanted to pick up some fresh mutton.  I’ll say it was fresh!  He was offered a sheep here, or a more expensive on there.  They would have it butchered while we went to get Haliuna’s hat.  While he was negotiating the sale, I watched as they skinned another.  The skin came off relatively easy; I could see how thick and all-encompassing fascia is.  Meanwhile, back at the gur, we had boiled mare’s milk (given in bowls starting with the eldest to the youngest) while the woman, wearing high heels, rolled out the dough for noodles, and fried then boiled veggies and meat for soup. 
Cowboys came in on their horses and tied them to what looked like a volleyball net, came in with their robes, and big colorful sashes and Russian boots.  Haliuna said it was proper to offer them $5 each couple, so we fished out some money and I handed it over Les and said “thank you” to our host.  Haliuna took the other tourist’s money and bowed in front of the man with a little ceremony holding the money with two hands.  Ugh, I think my version was crass and ungraceful.  Sorry, I should have waited for a cue.  The van came back with meat in the back seat and we followed the huge storm into town.  I crashed upon return.    


  1. Hi Sue,
    My name is Maarit and my father and I stayed with Haliuna at Happy Travel Hostel for a few weeks last summer. We really need to get in touch with Haliuna but unfortunately we lost her e-mail address and other contact info. Is there any chance you might have Haliuna's email and could pass it on to us so we can get in touch with her? We feel awful that so much time has gone by and we have not been able to communicate with her. Thanks for your help!

  2. A deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across.Moldavia