By Amy Hessl
Neil looked good when we left UB on Aug 21, but he was a dead man walking.
We waited almost an hour to cross this bridge, as the family who keeps it in working order was busy building a new ger. As we watched and waited, several more travelers – on horseback, motorbike, car and truck – accumulated on either side of the bridge. Finally the pressure must have been too great – the family collected several thousand tugrik from each of us and opened the gate. I’m guessing they made about $20 that morning. But hey, it was a big bridge.
The next day, we had the honor of stopping in Byaraa’s home village where we had a wonderful lunch of hot Mongolian soup, tse and airag. Byaraa had not been to visit his village in three years and it was like watching the all-star quarterback come home. He was greeted with loving looks by every passerby – especially the young girls!!! Byaraa is shy though, so no more about that. But seriously, what girl could resist?
Thank you to Byaraa’s grandmother for a delicious lunch! Continue reading
By Neil Pederson
yesterday was a ‘free’ day in the capitol, Ulaanbaatar. the day started with breakfast at the Amsterdam Cafe near the State Department Store. the cafe is the early morning hangout for tourists and their Mongolian hosts. having an “English breakfast” – eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, bacon and toast, and an assortment of coffees and teas and pastries, it makes it a popular hangout. having free internet must help, too. [btw, i started drinking ‘coffee’, mostly in mocha form]. we came to the cafe yesterday morning to meet a Mongolian artist and her agent; the cafe displays artwork for purchase. from there we went back to the artist’s studio/apartment. i went along because i enjoy meeting Mongolians and seeing different parts of the city.
upon arrival, we were greeted by the artist’s husband and boy. the husband, “Tom” [which means ‘big’ in Mongolian], is young, has a shaved head, is thick and muscular [a typical Mongolian build], a chin curtain with a short braid hanging from his curtain. he is also covered below the knees and from shoulders to his wrists with tattoos – he is a hip, young Mongolian, but would fit in Brooklyn no problem. he gladly showed off his tattoos of Chinggis, other historical Mongolians and scenes. his tats were made by his wife.
their boy is an excitable young man. he was walking around the apartment with his backpack on. he was excited about his first day of school – kindergarten – on September 1st. all Mongolian students begin school on Sep 1st, from kindergarten to university. it is a big show, esp on the national news. the boy also got excited seeing the pile of US dollars his mother earned yesterday morning! his mom had to catch his hands quick.
Amy & the Artist
The artist is a sweet, quiet and soft spoken woman. her art, like much modern Mongolian art, blends the traditional with the contemporary, often western contemporary. unlike her apparent personality, her artwork is quite bold. some of her paintings are almost as big as she is. much of her artwork is very colorful. Continue reading
By Neil Pederson
We are back from our >1800 km road/field trip. We drove for 2 days, conducted fieldwork for 3 days and then drove back over 2 days. We had to get back b/c Byamba has to prepare to go back to Colorado State U to begin classes on Monday.
We scrambled to get to Tsetserleg by nighttime the first day, but transmission issues with our rig delayed our departure from UB. As the sun set, a wind and lightning storm met us. It signaled a change in the weather. Temps were in the 80’s in UB as we packed. By the next morning they were in the 40’s. The extreme continentality of Mongolia made its presence known.
We stopped for breakfast in Tsetserleg. We got the full treatment by a former classmate’s of our Mongolian colleague. Not expecting to know this person, I didn’t recognize this woman I met in the same town 11 yrs ago. It was a great and warm reunion.
From there we finally made it to our first sampling site, through a high pass and to nearly the western end of the Khangai Mtns, ~ 400 km west of Tsetserleg.
The weather continued to deteriorate for field work – it rained and the temps dropped to the 30’s. It snowed at high elevation and it spit snow on us during our first day of sampling. We completed out work, despite the Siberian larch being mostly rotten; we had to core about 5-6trees to get one solid tree. Byamba and Bilaa made a nice fire history collection.
The larch outside our camping site reflected this change in the weather and perhaps foretells and early and cool autumn.
We drove back east stopping at the famous, Sologotyin Davaa, site of the first temperature sensitive chronology in Mongolia. It is over 1000 yrs long and reflects global warming. Ironically, it burned recently. Continue reading