August 02 - August 18, 2011
M  O  N  G  O  L  I  A
Gobi , Altay Mountains & Hovds Gull Tour
Group Journal Day 11
Submitted By. Jane Ross
Aug. 12, 2011

Itinerary: Fly back to Ulaan Baatar. Dinner with Oyungerel Tsedevdamba


In a group meeting before boarding our return flight to UB, we reflected on our thoughts and feelings about what we have seen and experienced in our Mongolian adventure. The following are some individual reflections:

Reflections on the tour in the morning

--the contrast between Ulaan Baator and the rest of Mongolia; vastness of the steppe; being made aware of the history of Mongolia through the landscape

--a flat weave carpet purchased in the Altai expresses through its colors and the materials used the mountains, the landscape, the scenery and the way of life of the nomads

--the lonely/solitary life on the steppe where one’s nearest neighbor may be 100 km away

--why so much money was being spent by the people on funding 10 Buddha statues at the monastery; the money would be better spent on progressing toward a better lifestyle, such as purchasing solar panels or building schools

--the lovely tradition of welcoming with the sprinkling of milk; admiration for their independent spirit; and hope that the Mongolians will learn from the mistakes of other cultures and nations

--cultures do not remain stagnant, they change, and Mongolia is changing too; can’t stop globalization; Mongolians have to find the right way for their society to modernize, and also hang onto their traditions

--did not read a lot before arriving in Mongolia because I didn’t want to be influenced by others’ views; had a mental image of a man, woman or child on a horse and I saw that; very interesting perspective is the contrast between discovering the Mongolians’ views of the Chinese and Japanese people while already knowing the views of the Chinese and Japanese toward Mongolians

--need to be one with the land – in Tibet I am on top of the world and in Mongolia I am in the land; vision of the ancient people and animals that have come through here; each member of the group brings something special to this trip

-- the history of Mongolia was missing for me as a child except for the vision of invading Mongol hoards; reading Wolf Totem provided a better picture of life here; surprised by the trash in the countryside -- expected a greater level of care and respect for the land

--the vastness and sense of being in the land; the star gazing experience in the Gobi was a highlight, along with the boy at the nomad camp who was so excited to learn about photography and see the photographs immediately after he had clicked the camera; hope people from the city will return to the land; the tourism industry in Mongolia needs to recognize that the land and the people are most important

--water bottle pollution could be reduced if the container size used by the tourist agencies is changed so that we fill our own reusable bottles from a much larger container

We rushed to the air port. The tiny airport was like a micro sample of Mongolia. the traditional old people and the
modern teen agers were side by side. We were all very impressed with the boots of an old man who was obviously dressed up to go to UB. We thought his boots are the most photographed boots in all of Mongolia


We flew back to UB on a brand new four engine high wing British AVRO jet – complete with new airplane smell (like new car smell) soft grey leather seats. The British pilots delivered the plane to UB two months ago and are staying on to train the Mongolian pilots. The flight stopped in Ulaangom to refuel and take on additional passengers. We arrived in UB during rush hour and it took 1-1/2 hours to get back to the hotel from the airport. We reached the hotel just before our dinner guests arrived – a Mongolian and a foreigner living in UB -- who answered from their perspectives some of the questions which we had from our 12 days in Mongolia.

Terrific land scape from the window of the air plane

Our Guest tonight: (Oyungerel Tsedevdamba)
Notes on My Study in America (written in Mongolian) by Oyuna
 Nomadic Dialogues (written by both of them, in English and Mongolian, ISBN # 99929-0-267-1) available only thru Paypal and electronically in the US.  Series of lessons for foreigners on way of life of nomads and for nomads lessons in English. 
 The Green Eyed Lama - novel written by both of them, not yet published in English, and is history of Oyuna's family.
 Google Oyuna and her website has links to poetry and a full biography
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