The WildArt Mongolia Expedition 2015

The 2015 WildArt Mongolia Expedition, Part 7: A Lovely Camping Place And…We Go Shopping!

Our beautiful campsite

Our beautiful campsite

I loved our hidden campsite in the birch grove. I did as many sketches and watercolors as I could since I have no idea if I’ll ever be at that place again. Here’s a two-page set of drawings from my journal.

Birch trees at campsite near Chandmani

Birch trees at campsite near Chandmani

And here’s one of the watercolors I did.

Birch trees at campsite near Chandmani

Birch trees at campsite near Chandmani

We weren’t, however, alone. The grove seems to be headquarters for a large number of black-eared kites, a very common bird that one doesn’t pay much attention to after awhile while traveling around. Well, you sure couldn’t ignore this crowd, which carried on enthusiastic “conversations” until nightfall.

The "kite tree"

The “kite tree”

Just a fraction of the number that were in the air at this point

Just a fraction of the number that were in the air at this point

Getting checked out

Getting checked out

They also nest here.

Black kite nest

Black-eared kite nest

It was such a lovely spot.

Birch tree grove

Birch tree grove

And it wasn’t easy to leave.

Stream

Stream

But we needed to get food and supplies for the last leg of the Expedition, so we packed up by late morning and drove the short distance into Chandmani, the soum center. There is also a Chandmani in Gobi Altai Aimag, which we drove through on the first Expedition in 2013, so now I’ve been to both of them. The guide had to get some money, which gave me a little time to wander around and find quite a few things of interest.

Stupa

A Stupa

Heroes from socialist times, along with WWII, are honored with statues in various towns. This one says “Khodolmoriin Baatar R. Chadrabal”.

Memorial statue

Memorial statue

I thought this next one was awesome. So perfectly an expression of its time and a good work of art. The plaque says, I think, “Bimaulsin Baatar/Bayaibalin Tegshee”.

Memorial statue

Memorial statue

And, providing a contrast nearby, was this very cute playground.

Playground

Playground

On the ground near the red hero statue was a wonderful sculpture of oversized anklebones (shagai). The real ones are used for an apparently endless number of games, many of them involving alcohol consumption. Each of the four sides represents a specific domestic animal: horse, sheep, goat or camel.

Shagai

Shagai

I was not surprised, this being Mongolia, that there would be a statue of a horse.

Horse statue

Horse statue

I was, however, quite surprised to see a statue of an argali.

Argali statue

Argali statue

It seemed a sleepy town, like most soum centers I’ve been to, not many people out and about.

Chandmani scene with horses and Jargalant Hairhan Uul in the background

Chandmani scene with horses and Jargalant Hairhan Uul in the background

The town’s setting, with the northeast side of Jargalant Hairkhan Uul as a backdrop, was very nice. We went into the town center and, wow, it was hopping! The local naadam festival had just ended and people had come into town to do their shopping.

The main shopping street in Chandmani

The main shopping street in Chandmani

Local people who have come to town

Local people who have come to town

This was one of the few soum centers I’ve been in (not a huge number) that really had a main shopping street. Our first stop was this shop. I was dazzled by the riot of color and the variety of goods. I’m posting a lot of photos of it for two reasons. One is that I just want to share the experience, which is not one that visitors often get. I had the best time poking around and taking photos with my phone camera. The second is that I am so tired of uninformed, to put it diplomatically, Americans seeing the herder’s gers and how country people live, and going on and on about “those poor people” living in poverty as if it was some kind of degraded life that they need to be rescued from by the noble westerners. It’s true that most herders don’t have a lot of cash money. They also don’t accumulate a lot of stuff because everything they have is going to have to be packed up and moved at least a couple of times a year. But they have what they need and if they want something they have access to shops like these.

Behind the counter

Behind the counter

Candy is dandy

Candy is dandy and every shop I’ve ever been in has an excellent selection

Vegetables

Vegetables and sundry other things like Russian nesting dolls and heavy electrical cords.

Children's shoes

Children’s shoes

Children's clothing

Children’s clothing

As you have probably guessed by now, the Mongols are not a people who are afraid of color. Westerners have commented on that for as long as any have made the journey to the Land of Blue Skies.

Fabric temptations, but I managed to resist

Fabric temptations, but I managed to resist

Cookies and biscuits

Cookies and biscuits

the stationary and school supply department

the stationary and school supply department, plus some Buddhist offering cups and such on the top shelf

Nails

Nails

The toy department

The toy department

Paint, tape, locks...hardware stuff

Paint, tape, locks…hardware stuff

Pots and pans

Pots and pans

Nuts and bolts and washers

Nuts and bolts and washers

Mobile phones

Mobile phones

Flashlights and other things one might need around the ger

Flashlights and other things one might need around the ger

The auto/motorbike parts department

The auto/motorbike parts department

Beverages, including fruit juices and beer

Beverages, including fruit juices and beer; breads are on the left; oh, look, more candy on the right at the bottom

We were almost ready to leave when a woman came in wearing a del the same color as one I have. Our eyes met and I got up the courage to have my guide ask if she’d have her picture taken with me. I got a smile and a nod. Mongols almost never smile for photos, having been taught to keep a serious face since childhood. I’ve learned to keep a neutral friendly expression for these photo opps.

Love this photo; one of my favorites from the trip

Love this photo; one of my favorites from the trip

We left the first shop and went to have lunch, which turned out two of my favorites! Buuz and khuushuur. I have yet to get tired of either.

Buuz, which are steamed mutton dumplings

Buuz, which are steamed mutton dumplings

Khuushuur, which are fried mutton turnovers

Khuushuur, which are fried mutton turnovers

We needed to go to one more shop to get meat.

The restaurant

The second shop

There was a huge poster attached to the wall. It was information about snow leopards. It says that there are 37 living on Jargalant Hairkhan Uul. The photo shows camera trap images of two leopards who have lost a paw in a trap, so other information on the poster is about not setting traps.

Snow leopard information poster

Snow leopard information poster

But we go into the shop and I see this. I was not able to find out the whole story behind either the poster or the traps. When I do I’ll be writing a post about it.

Traps

Traps

It turned out that there was no meat on site. The proprietor made a phone call and about 20 minutes later a local herder came in with a small bag of fresh mutton. In the meantime I took some more photos, including this stack of ger felts.

Felt ger coverings

Felt ger coverings

We went back to the car and got in. In the meantime, some of the local goats started to put on a show.

Goats finding a raised vantage point on a building

Goats finding a raised vantage point on a building

As we were leaving I spotted this horse tied to a fence and had to get some photos.

Good-looking grey horse with very nice saddle

Good-looking grey horse with very nice saddle

Now we really did need to get going. Our destination? Back east to Dorgon Nuur to camp in a different location than before. Will there be mosquitos? Find out next week.

On the road again for an hour or two

On the road again for an hour or two

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s