The Nadaam Festival is on, started yesterday. It is the Mongolian equivalent of Waitangi Day but more proscribed. Competitions are held in three events, wrestling, men only, archery and horse racing. The festival in UB is held over four days but in the smaller towns only one or two days. It commemorates the three major eras of Mongolian history, the Khan era, the Buddhist era and the socialist era. The latter being the shortest.
Yesterday started with a huge parade in the Main Square, every service in their dress uniforms and medals. We then drove for what seemed like hours , two actually out into the countryside for the National Horse Racing event. Two races are run each day, we saw the three year olds race. It is a bit like the child camel racers in Dubai, the riders are aged between 7 and 12. The race is twenty ks but of course it is twenty ks out then a race back. All very exciting particularly when the lead rider left the track and fell about 100 m from the finish, he was up in a flash and still came in fifth. I got quite excited by it all. A few riderless horses by the end. Over three hundred horses. Rain was threatening all day but luckily never came to much, still around 28c. Group starting to look a bit rough around the edges,,long days. Twice now when it is obvious people are tired, out comes a large vodka bottle and a tray of glasses, everyone perks up amazingly. Provided by the local guide called Oonya, she is smart!!!
Loads of people at he races ,,a few busloads of tourists. Then the long haul back to town via a cashmere factory, very modest purchases, a scarf and a hat. Good prices but not much in my size.
Also had a visit to the National Museum, golly the age of some of the exhibits. 4 BC and upwards. Excellent museum guide .
Off to watch some wrestling and archery today and probably more cashmere. Food is still good,
The second to last photo is the dust cloud raised by
the riders, seen long before them!