07 July 2006

MONGOLIA day-16 July 7 2006 MORON (return) ^

The overnight rain has created a three metre wide creek line, on the bare ground outside of our hotel. A female police officer adorned with a plastic raincoat, thick makeup and stilettos very delicately crossed to the other side. In the near distance I can see the box shaped homes with their gabled tin roofs and wood slat fencing. The inner part of town has concrete box style apartments, which have no artistic flourishes and are in various stages of eroding away. Within our dwelling the outside staircase has large holes in it and the exposed rusting steel mesh is visible. Our room is clean and bright with speckled wallpaper and an aluminium balcony. Satellite dishes adorn most of the buildings and at the end of the main street the impressive steel dome of the wrestling ring can be seen. Like the other aimag capital Bulgan, remnant factories of the Soviet era lay discarded. Most of the larger concrete structures appear Stalinist and harsh. The town is busy with horse carts, bicycles and cars. The omnipresent Russian vans ply the street; probably seeking the tourist trade but with only four other travellers in town this must be to no avail. In the street brightly adorned horses are tethered to numerous hitching posts. The cloud is now lifting and our front door waterway is dry, having now soaked away in the spongy soils. I’ve been thinking back to yesterday, when the three young horsemen raced us down the final davoo toward Moron. They clocked in at 37 km/h and it was mostly neck to neck. The vignettes of Mongolia that will always be with me are the staccato sounds of the horses and the beaming smiles upon the herder’s faces. They enjoy the “game of life” but do it with generous natures. Bernhard and Rachel are two earthy Barcelonans introduced to us by a middle-aged German woman, whose eyes portrayed an energetic zest for life. According to them the rains today were so extreme in Khatgal that the track that we traversed yesterday was flooded and cars had been almost submerged and subsequently they were unable to cycle here as planned. Bernard’s photographs were graphic but beyond my comprehension. Tonight I am excited, as the opening ceremony for Naddam begins in the town square and tomorrow we may also cycle with our Catalan friends, as a pleasant interchange on their first bicycling day. Most of our afternoon has been sharing our family and travel stories with Oyu and spending much time laughing at the lack of common language. She is a middle-aged BURYIAT whose enjoyment of people will make her guest house a success. Photo: Mike Kuiper "mongolian grasslands"..

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