MONGOLIA: OUR ROUTE

Travel Mongolia
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A few tips on how we went about travelling through Mongolia ;-) Ulan Ude (Russia) - Ulaanbataar Take bus from Ulan Ude-Ulaanbaatar - bus leaves in the morning and its cheaper and faster than train,聽 you can buy tickets directly on the bus station. Cash only. Ulaanbataar - we stayed around 聽in capital around a week. 聽For transportation within the city you can buy a bus card in any little shop with U Money sign and recharge your card. One ride costs 500tgk. (Btw. Museum of Mongolia is worth a visit as well as wrestling palace is worth a visit ) Ulaanbataar-Murun We took a Bus from Dragon Station - a night bus at around 17 : 30. It's good to buy tickets at least the same morning.聽 You can also ask a Mongolian to buy it for you online - fast and easy way but website is in Mongolian. Murun-Khatgal We took a taxi, which cost us around 70000tgk a person. You can wait for a (Russian) van to fill and then it's much cheaper around 10-15k tgk. Khatgal We spent two weeks in the countryside and then took horses from Bayara's guesthouse. It cost us 30k tgk per day per guide (it splits between group) and 15k per day per horse. The route Khatgal-Tsaatal people-Tsaganuur took us 9 days. Tsaganuur - Murun聽 We took a Russian van. It takes about 13h and it's a horrid ride. Drivers fly over one big hole of a road, russian van smell of petrol. Brace yourself.聽 It cost 35k tgk a person. Murun -...

ONE DAY WITH OT

FRH, Mobile Architecture, Travel Mongolia
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Seven km from Khatgal, between the larch trees on the top of the hill lives Ot. In spring, that is, because in the summer she will move down the valley, with her home and her animals, to enjoy rich pastures and wind cooling down Mongolian heat. I wake up at 7am, but Ot is already starting a fire for morning tea. Milk tea + bread + cream + sugar. That's breakfast. Honestly, the best cream on bread you can think of. Ot moves slowly, and while bending to pass beneath the fence of yak pen she swears in silent. Life is not easy in the outback, winters reach - 40 degrees, simple tasks are labour intensive, vegetables and fruits are scarce and towns are far. Ot sais that animals eat weeds and we eat animals so we get all the nutritions from both. That may be one cause of some health issues. Nathan, the Shaman, is sharing his healing cream . Now some cream for our horse, he got wounded with a rope few days earlier. Without him chasing after yaks is a pain. Yaks are milked twice a day. Then milk is going to be boiled. Some of it becomes yoghurt, some yoghurt and yoghurt. Then we figured out yoghurt is a name for anything Ot made of milk and there are milion and one things Ot makes of milk. And all our delicious. And some are delicious when you add sugar. Make fire. Boil milk. Clean the wok - pot....

ONE DAY IN TAIGA

FRH, Travel Mongolia
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After seven days on horses we finally reached it! From above the dense bushes, after hours of our horses sinking into the wet ground we saw white tops of tipi-like structures. Not to alarm reindeers and dogs we got off the horses and reached the first urt聽on foot. A man in front of it was softening the skin of the reindeers with a hammer, it will be handy for strapping to the back of the reindeers while moving between the camps. A three year old was running between baby reindeers, followed by her older sister trying to herd her back inside the urt. The moment we arrived, we were offered milk tea, bread and place to sleep. 聽I guess it's already something beyond hospitality. It's just...

NOMAD’S HOUSE ?

Architecture, FRH, Travel Mongolia, Wooden Architecture
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Living with Ot near 聽Kh枚vsg枚l lake For two glorious weeks in May we had a crack at being 'Yak Farmers'. We lived in a log house, cooked off the fire stove in the center, slept in the South and watched Korean soap operas on TV on the West side. That's for the layout. 'House nomads' just like the other nomads in Mongolia move 3-4 times a year. The only difference is that they own around 3 houses. One for summer, one for winter and one that serves them during spring and autumn. The summer spot by Ots was at the top of a hill with a beautiful log house hidden among larch trees. In the summer it gets too hot in such an enclosed area for yaks, that's why Ot and all her (nomad) neighbours move down the valley, to an open grassland. In the winter they head up the mountain, to more secluded spot with a big enclosed yak yard (to protect them from freeeeeeezing in the winter). The Bathtub and Reading Zone Plan of the log house resembles that of a yurt. Front door faces East, the kitchen area is to the right from the entrence, wood stove is placed in the center and the sacred zone it situated in front of the door. In the Ots house, just like in many others, it became the spot for TV (solar powered), blue ceremonial聽hadag and photos of family. Every morning, after milking the yaks, Ot would do an offering of fresh...

THREE MLN HORSES

Travel Mongolia
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There are three mln people in Mongolia. There are more than three mln horses. We made a 9 day horse trek from Khatgal, along the Khovsgol Lake to find Dukha people in the East Taiga. On the way we went through a spooky forest, ate local fish, played cards, picked up a stray dog ( a.k.a Goat Killer) , fell of the horse and met many beautiful...

Live like a Kazakh

Architecture, FRH, Mobile Architecture, Travel Mongolia
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Kazahska jurta jest zdecydowanie wi臋ksza od mongolskiej. Gdy zostajemy zaproszeni do 艣rodka, pomimo 偶e wkr贸tce ger zaczyna si臋 wype艂nia膰 i jest nas razem oko艂o 17 , wn臋trze nadal jest wydaje si臋 przestronne. Dzi臋ki krokwiom gi臋tym na ko艅cach wn臋trze jest wy偶sze - i聽 jako 偶e dzi臋ki temu kszta艂towi korona jurty jest samono艣na nie s膮 potrzebne podpory - 聽o wiele bardziej przestrzenne. Wn臋trze jurty ma podobn膮 dystrybucje do mongolskich jurt, jednak dzi臋ki wi臋kszym rozmiarom Kazahowie posiadaj膮 wi臋cej mebli, 艂贸偶ek, szaf i sto艂贸w. W zimie mieszkaj膮 w domach z suszonej na s艂o艅cu ceg艂y, o wiele 艂atwiejszych do ogrzania 鈥 dzi臋ki czemu letnie jurty nie musza by膰 a偶 tak mobilne jak mongolskie.     Kazakh yurt is definitely bigger than Mongolian one. When we are invited inside, although soon ger begins to fill and we are at least 17 inside, the interior still seems spacious and empty. With rafters bent at the ends, the interior is higher - and because of this shape the crown of the yurt is self-supporting without interior pillars - much more spatial. Even Nathan can walk around without bending his head. The interior of the yurt is similarly distributed to the Mongolian yurt, but thanks to its larger size, the Kazahs have more furniture, beds, cupboards and tables. In the winter they live in houses made of sun dried earth bricks, much easier to heat - so that the summer yurts do not need to be as mobile as Mongolian. Also interiors are much more colorful and decorated, with interior walls covered with handcrafted multi-color...

EAT LIKE A MONGOL

Travel Mongolia
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Meat and milk are the base of the Mongolians鈥 diet. When we cooked vegetarian meals two days in the row Nara, our driver, was impatiently looking for a sign of guanz, a roadside restaurant (filled only with Mongolian cuisine). Both milk and meat are products from the same domestic animals (along with useful hides, fleece, and wool, especially cashmere from goats, as well as transportation provided by some animals). The Mongolians refer to these animals as 鈥榯he five muzzles鈥: horses, cattle (cows and yaks combined, as well as hainags, a cow/yak cross), sheep, goats, and camels. People living in the northwest regions of Mongolia, bordering on Russian Siberia, add a sixth muzzle to the herd: reindeer, which are also raised for their meat, hides, milk, and uses for transport. Nomads live on meat and some preserved milk products during the winter season from October to April, whereas in summer they mostly relay on fresh milk ( in all forms: cream, butter,鈥榤ilk skins鈥, soured clotted milk, buttermilk, yoghurt, sour cream porridge, cheeses, 鈥榤ilk vodka鈥, kumis, and many I don鈥檛 know how to describe). Milk from all of the 鈥榮ix muzzles鈥 is used for dairy products, although milk from certain kinds of animals is often preferred for a specific product, such as mares鈥 milk for kumis, and sheep, goat, camel, and yak鈥檚 milk for a variety of fat-rich cream products. Kilka da艅 z codziennego 偶ycia Nomad贸w: - Domowy zasma偶any makaron z cebul膮 (jedn膮), suszonym mi臋sem, ziemniakiem (jednym) i olejem - Zupa z聽domowym zasma偶anym makaronem z...

LIVE LIKE A MONGOL

FRH, Mobile Architecture, Travel Mongolia
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Jurta to mobilna struktura na planie ko艂a o drewnianej konstrukcji wyko艅czona bia艂ym p艂贸tnem. 聽Z tureckiego s艂owo dos艂ownie odnosi si臋 do 艣ladu jaki zostawia po sobie jurta po przeniesieniu w nowe miejsce -w Mongolii znana jako GER czyli po prostu DOM. Jurty s膮 u偶ywane od co najmniej trzech tysi臋cy lat. Pierwszym opisem聽 jurt mieszkalnych zaj膮艂 si臋 grecki historyk Herodot opisuj膮c Scyt贸w, je偶d偶膮cych na koniach nomad贸w z okolic centralnej Azji. Jurty r贸偶ni膮 si臋 wielko艣ci膮 i wysoko艣ci膮, mongolskie jurty zazwyczaj maj膮 powierzchnie oko艂o 30-35 m^2. Kazachskie Jurty na zachodzie kraju s膮 znacznie wi臋ksze. Na konstrukcj臋 jurty sk艂adaj膮 si臋 drzwi, drewniane kraty 艣cienne (wed艂ug liczby kt贸rych okre艣la si臋 jej wielko艣膰 ), krokwie dachowe ze spr臋偶ystych pr臋t贸w drewnianych oraz korona zwana w Mongolii toono. 聽Ca艂o艣c izolowana jest grub膮 warstw膮 filcu ( owczego lub koziego ) i wyka艅czana na zewn膮trz p艂贸tnem. Jurta mo偶e by膰 rozmontowana i przewo偶ona w cz臋艣ciach na znaczne odleg艂o艣ci, a nast臋pnie ponownie montowana. R贸wnocze艣nie ma solidn膮 konstrukcj臋 dostosowan膮 do surowego klimatu panuj膮cego na stepie, z charakterystycznymi dla niego upalnymi latami i mro藕nymi zimami. Ca艂o艣膰 wa偶y ok. 200-300 kg, mo偶e by膰 zmontowana w kilka godzin. Stabilna konstrukcja jurty - krokwie opieraj膮 si臋 na toono oraz drewnianej kratownicy 艣cian P贸艂 miliona ludzi 鈥 70% nomad贸w 鈥 posiada obecnie dost臋p to elektryczno艣ci dzi臋ki tanim i przeno艣nym systemom paneli s艂onecznych.   Kilka s艂贸w o jak偶e fascynuj膮cej konstrukcji: 艢cienna kratownica sk艂ada si臋 z pr臋t贸w z twardego drewna 艂膮czonych sk贸rzanymi linami ( w we wschodnio-p贸艂nocym europejskim klimacie nie zdaje to egzaminu ze wzgl臋du na du偶膮 wilgotno艣膰). Pomimo 偶e kratownica sama w sobie nie...

Tsatsal- The Blessing Spoon

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Mongolians are practical. As they move at least 4 times a year almost all of their possessions are functional, and they often serve more than one purpose. Among the few ritual objects in their possession is often a tsatsal, a special carved wooden spoon used for specific offerings鈥攗sually of milk鈥攖o the gods, Earth and Sky. Milk is used in several Mongolian rituals, including the ritual of tossing milk into the air. It is the only spoon that is not used for cooking, serving, or eating, but is still intimately connected with food. A Tsatsal is carved out of a single piece of wood usually left in natural colour. The carving on the spoon with nine symmetrical indentations forms a grid of three rows of three indentations each. Each of them is a four-sided pyramid into which the milk is poured.The flat bowl with its three-by-three grid pattern of indentations is the only element common to all these spoons. The grid (three down multiplied by three across) represent a sacred 聽number to Mongolians, as do other multiples of three. Three and nine are also significant numbers in Buddhism鈥攁nd indicate the direct influence of Buddhist symbolism on many of these milk spoons. To Mongolians, the number three has several symbolic meanings: Past ~ present ~ future The three stages of life: youth/childhood ~ adulthood ~ old age/wisdom Heaven ~ earth ~ the lower world/underworld For Buddhists: the three pillars of Buddhism For the safe journey The ritual of tossing milk into the...

Moving with the reindeers

FRH, Travel Mongolia, Wooden Architecture
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Who are Tsaatan People ? It took us a 7 days by horses from Khatgal to reach the Village. 聽In the forests of Taiga, hidden in the mountains separating Russia from Mongolia live the Tsaatan people 鈥 Those who have Reindeers. Originally coming from the Tuva Republic in Russia, they escaped from the soviet regime across the border. They were repeatedly deported back but in the 50s Mongolian government agreed to accept the reindeer families granting聽them Mongolian citizenships. At the same time 鈥 negdel - (pastoral collectives) were implemented . The state collectivized reindeers as they had with every other agricultural entity. The government tried to turn reindeer into a purely economic entity devoid of the spiritual meaning it held for centuries.聽The number of reindeer decreased, and then came the period of post-collectivization, when on the verge of XXI Tsaatan had to adapt to the open market economy. With little government support, no vets, limited goods exchange, marginalized by living on peripheries and limited by strict national park policies they keep on surviving. Seasonal migration : Summer 鈥 Autumn 鈥 Winter - Spring When we arrived in the village, 20 out of 30 families did already leave for the summer pastures. It was 3 pm,聽the remaining families arranged all their belongings next to the bare skeleton of their tent. Some reindeers were already tightly packed, with the folded canvas, stoves, buckets wrapped around their backs. Santa鈥檚 reindeers 鈥 with extra pipes on the sides. When the complete tent was packed, a chain of...