Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My friend and colleague, Nara, invited me to spend a long weekend in her family's home in the countryside. So, I took off by train with three of her children - the far three in the picture.

Bilguun settles in the upper berth for the 10 hour ride.

Some scenes along the way...beautiful vistas, practicing for Naadam, stacks of hay in case of a tough winter.

From Nara's backyard, one can see both the Russian checkpoint (we are right on the border) off the green side of the house, and the Mongolian checkpoint off the yellow side of the house.

Altanbulag is named for this water source. The Golden Fountain provides the water for all 5,000 citizens. Here we are getting our day's water.

Nara and Rumeysa attempted to teach me to make butz, the most famous traditional Mongolian food - they are very good steamed dumplings.

Master butz makers!

We traveled to the Mother Tree, a shrine of sorts where many Mongolians come to pray. The original tree fell a few years back and a new one is beginning, but the old one is still revered. Offerings of incense, milk, grain, and the wall of Mongolian tea bricks as well as hundreds of khadags (scarves) abound.

We happened upon a shaman ceremony. We weren't allowed to get closer, but the shaman is on the left, beating a drum and making contact with the spirits.

The next day, we headed for Gun Nuur - the deep lake.

The camel was hiding, but we spotted him.

Then to a beautiful and refreshing river.

Mongolians, including our little Mishka, love their meat!

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