Me with my "Pen Pal" and my horse!
This weekend, about 15 people from our group traveled to Inner Mongolia! It is a province about 12 hours North East of Beijing
. We had the whole thing set up though a travel agent close to our classroom (the Asian kids had to help us with this one). Some things were definitely lost in translation because we definitely didn't get what we expected (a 6 hour bus ride turned into a 12 hour bus ride...) but it was an awesome adventure!
When we first arrived at a Mongolian camp in the middle of a huge green field, we were very glad to finally have some fresh air and get out of the dirty city! It was also in the mountains, so it was about 30 degrees cooler than the whether we have been experiencing in Beijing.
Eileen and Sallie taking the "wine"
When we first got off the bus, our guide told us that they were going to give us a small cup of wine (about the size of a shot) and we were supposed to stick our ring finger in it and fling it to the sky, then to the ground, then rub it across our forehead (honoring the sky, the earth, and ourselves) and then drink it. It didn't look like wine, and it definitely didn't taste like it! Everyone thought it was moonshine...all I know is that I've never had anything as strong as that "wine"! Next we got to ride horses to a little house about an hour away to have "tea." One of the Mongolian guides seemed to like me alot for some reason...he held onto my horse the whole way! Everyone else got to ride by themselves. He was trying to learn English and was pretty good at it.
David fighting a Mongol...he won!
He asked me my name and what I was studying...then he started to sing a song to me that went "Take me to your heart, take me to your soul..."! Everyone around me kept making fun of me because they could hear him! He asked if we could be pen pals and for me to never forget him! He even gave me a small charm that is the goddess of mercy. It was insane. He also asked if I knew how to ride a bike, horse, motorbike, and a taxi. When I told him I could drive a car and that I owned one, I thought he was going to fall off his horse! He asked me a ton of questions about what it looked like and what it was like to drive. I don't think that he had ever even been in a car before! When we finally got back to the camp, all of the guides put on a horse race show for us and a "Mongolian Wrestling" tournament.
Dancing with a MONGOL!
They made a few of the guys in our group wrestle them...and our guys won! For dinner they served us lamb and veggies...I really liked the veggies, but not the lamb...which is strange because Mongolians are supposed to be known for their meat. After dinner, they put on about a 2 hour show for us outside by our bond fire! The stars were SO BEAUTIFUL! There were so many that you couldn't even pick out constellations because they were too cluttered. After the show, they asked us to come on stage and dance with them! It was so cool because they were trying to copy everything we did and teach us how to dance like them. That night, we slept in tents on pads that they gave us. The only bad thing about that camp was that they only had 3 "squatty potties" in a row with no stalls.
4-Wheelin' in the Mongolian Desert!
I tried my best to not have to use them...but I failed! At least I know how to use them now....
The next day, we took a "3 hour" (turned into 6 hour...) bus ride to the desert! It was a little strange, because it was almost an amusement park in the middle of huge sand dunes. I got to slide down one particularly big one and ride a 4-wheeler over them! The 4-wheeler was awesome because you got to go down these huge dunes! They also had camels, but they didn't look so good...I decided not to ride on them. We slept in a hotel that night and the next day they took us to a sweat shop! It was the weiredest thing...but we all think we should get extra credit in our manufacturing class! They made all of the cheap souvenirs that we had seen being sold everywhere.
Beautiful mountains in Mongolia!
Surprisingly, all of the paintings were actually hand painted, but everything else looked extremely cheap. Then we went to a temple (surprise, surprise! haha). This temple was actually one of the best ones we have seen because they had about 3 story high Budda statutes! It was another 8 hour bus ride home...but I guess you get what you paid for...the whole trip, including transportation, food, hotel, and activities cost me less than $100 US dollars! I still can't believe that I danced with MONGOLS! :-)