Thursday, July 14, 2011

Naadam Festival in Mongolia - Day 2

On Day 2 of the Naadam festival, Kathy and I went with Munguu, Nergui and Nergui's brother to the countryside to see the horse racing. It was great to be in what felt like part of the culture of Mongolia. The crowds were huge, and the traffic on the way there was horrible!! The location was about 30 miles west of Ulaanbaatar. But after cruising through the city, the traffic was almost bumper to bumper the rest of the way. I felt like we were in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. Clouds of dust were everywhere as cars took any lane they could, including the right shoulder (which was 2 or 3 lanes of dust) and the left shoulder, too, since cars were driving west on all the east-bound lanes. Sometimes the police would encourage them on with a wave, and sometimes they would insist cars should stay in their lanes. Hmmm.... so this was the first great race of the day!

Anyway, it was great to be out in the wide open vastness of Mongolia. The first race started at 7am... and finished about 10am. We managed to get over to the race course area and squeeze our way in to the first lines of viewers just in time to see the finish. The crowd was really in to the whole thing.

After that, we headed over to the "Culture Naadam Nomad Arts Festival" and saw some excellent performances of dancing, traditional music, modern pop, classical, interpretive and folk music.

If the traffic was bad going there, it was worse coming back. A hint to anyone thinking of going next year, plan ahead, go early, and be prepared with things to do on the way home. But it was all worth it!!!

Munguu and I and many kites people brought ... :)

In the far distance the horse and their riders would be coming

An overall view of the horse racing area

Negui and Munguu our friends... :)

Waiting for the horses to arrive for the finish of the race

.... looking to see who is in the lead at the finish...

...  watching the finish!!

... racing!!!!

The Finish!!

A group playing traditional Mongolian music

... a pop singer...

A Traditional Mongolian Dancer

A group of Mongolian girls doing an interpretive dance

the rush to leave the races

Some of us took a short - cut over the open spaces!!

A policeman holds the multitude of cars at a railroad stop...

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