OTRWJ Mongolia – Mongolian Memories


Mongolian Memories

Every traveler returns home with a head filled with incredible memories and experiences.  Certainly, this Mongolian Adventure of mine was no exception. 

A couple of photos capture the humor that I encountered being in this very different culture…like the basketball hoop in the middle of the Gobi Desert.

Or the store named “Happy Mart.” I never had the courage to walk in but every time I passed by I wondered what one buys in a Happy Mart!?.

And then there was the Gangnam Restaurant! I wanted to start dancing …but wondered about this restaurant which is named for a tiny neighborhood in Seoul, Korea where that country’s 1% live and excessively pursue good looks, success and affluence. Is this new Mongolian democracy hoping to emulate the true Gangnam style?

And then there were the faces. The contrasts I saw told much of the story of where this country is today. The older people wear traditional clothing because that is simply what they wear, not because it is a costume. Their faces show the memories of growing up under Soviet rule while their parents remembered a prouder era of gaining independence from China. The Soviet era is so much a part of the older generation’s identity that the men still, proudly, decorate their deels with the many medals earned in “community” service.  

And then there are the children! Happy and open, without the reserve of their grandparents. The traditional clothes they wore to Nadaam Festival were, indeed, costumes. They eagerly approached Westerners, hoping to practice their English.  These are the children of the boom years of high copper and coal prices.

All these faces show a country in transition from the nomadic lifestyle, the shamanistic rituals and the Soviet purges to something far different that I would not venture to predict.

Memories. I believe they enter our being through our senses. Certainly I’ll remember the smell of juniper incense in the Buddhist Temples. And the slightly sour taste of fermented mare’s milk.  The sound of a yak herd stampeding across the steppe. The ever incredible brilliant blue sky and the vibrantly painted furniture in every ger. The feel on my face of the dry dawn wind blowing out of China across the Gobi.

One very early morning as I neared the end of my sunrise walk, I looked down…and there was this stone heart looking up at me…reminding me that all the memories travel on with us, forever in our hearts.

Thank you, EIL, for allowing me to share this unusual adventure. Thank you to the many readers who encouraged me along the way with such enthusiastic comments. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I have.

OTRWJ Mongolia - Mongolian Memories originally posted on by Elegant Island Living magazine.

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