I will not be able to post as much or as in depth as I had hoped. There is little down time on this project so far. We’ve completed the first leg of our field research. it was great getting into the Mongolian countryside again. anyhow, so this post will almost be a grocery list of thoughts & observations [i wish blogging/internet cafes were common on my first trip 11 yrs ago. the experience was so much more intense. i had much more to say about Mongolia then].
act I – You’ve come a long way (baby) – i cannot believe how ‘far’ China and Mongolia have come in the last 3-10 yrs. the Beijing airport is something to behold – it really is lovely. the changes in Mongolia in the short time since my first visit in 1998 borders on unfathomable. they’ve remade Sukh Bator Square so now there is a wonderful statue of Chinggis Khaan overlooking the square. 10-11 yrs ago the parliment building on the square was a drab, communist building [like the 1st beijing airport i traveled through]. now, it is a wonderful tribute to Mongolia’s long history. yet, it is touched with a wonderful glass facade. it is really interesting to see how Mongolia blends the old with the new. Mongolia went from the 1600’s [or 1900s] to the 21st century in about 20 yrs. it is interesting to se how they honor the Mongolian Empire while consuming the modern world. i’ll try to dig up pix from 10 yrs ago sometime when back in the states. the change is unreal.
act II – yesterday we were deep in the Mongolian landscape, yet relatively close to the cap[itol city of Ulaanbaatar. what struck me the most was how much one part of the landscape reminded me of the southern Adirondacks. in the past, i traveled to the coldest or driest portion of the Mongolian forest. yesterday we were in one of the wettest. we came upon a jeep trail that petered out at the base of a curving mtn range. to our left was a large wetland complex filled with shrub willow and potentilla. the surrounding forest was a mix of boreal conifers & hardwoods. it was lovely. it smelled wonderful. the scent in the air told me i was in the boreal forest, yet, in combination with the landscape of low mtn and large wetland complex, it transported me to the southern Adirondacks north of the West Canada Lakes region. as i have been extremely fortunate in seeing many patches of the world, i have constantly been trying to find a place like the ADKs. a part of Siberia was close in geology. but, it lacked the water & wetlands. yesterday’s location was the closest yet that i’ve seen. i really wanted to camp there for a while. it was the first place in Mongolia that the reminded me of home.
– speaking of home, as you know, Mongolia is like a second home to me. i had no idea at the time, in 1998, at how lucky i was to be here so soon after the fall of communism. i saw a very basic Mongolia – little religion, communist architecture, pure Mongolian food and shopping. it was physically hard on westerners. the food is a acquired taste. now, however, you can buy almost everything from western civilization that you possibly want. we got organic raisins from Whole Foods, for Pete’s sake. i could almost come here with only my research equipment and some clothes and buy all i need to conduct a month’s research. it is so far from 1998. so far that i almost miss it. but, it makes me think of what is happening internally. i cannot even conceive of the culture wars happening between generations, the sexes and rural VS urban. the culture wars in the US are nothing, i would guess.
apologies for typos. gotta run for a meeting. try to get more out over the weekend. we ar attending Nadaam. i’m really excited about this.
btw, i did realize which piece of meat that i ate yesterday was horse. it was really fantastic meat!