Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ma and Pa Do Mongolia: Unabridged Version

As promised: The Kappel's take Mongolia. 

A big ole high five to these two:

... for being such good troopers throughout this whole affair. After getting off the FIRST CLASS flight in China, their transportation slowly disintegrated until they were shoved in the back seats of a Japanese mini-van, hurdling through the countryside of Mongolia. But they did it. Just like Rocky. 

Culture shock turned out not to be too bad in UB:
Oh, hello Sasha Bairn Coen!
A little tougher in the countryside:

Then we spent 6 days travelling to and from my soum. It is approximately one hundred million kilometers of travel. Or so it feels like. Dad began checking off his Mongolia to do list:

Hold a GIANT bird of prey on his shoulder: Check. 
The first day in Dariganga, we spent the day seeing what there is to see. Dad climbed Altan Ovoo with our driver Otgoo while Mom and I waited at the bottom, pondering our womanhood. Next, we saw a few lakes, a few swans, a few natural springs, etc... We drove out to Shilin Bogd (the tallest point in eastern Mongolia), where my parents got to experience Mongolian weather in all it's glory. Sunny as we drove there, snowy/windy/sleety/rainy as we were atop the mountain, then sunny as we drove back. Thank you Chinggiss, for giving my parents a true Mongolian experience. 

Standing in the open, watching that storm cloud move ever closer. Oh, yes, that is snow by the way. And yes, it is May 28th. 
 After our terribly chilly stint on Shilin Bogd, we trucked on over to the Ice Cave, aptly named as it is a cave... that is covered in ice. As per any Mongolian monument, the cave was plastered in khadags (the blue scarf) and money, but seeing how it was a cave, there was no light, and thus no good pictures.

Can you see the ice crystals?
The ice cave was the grand finale on a tiresome day. As we were bouncing back to my ger, we saw our first herds of gazelle sprinting across the steppe.

Next day! We had a horkug (a goat roast) at my friend's ger out in the countryside.

Otgoo gathering some water for the goats.
Making the milk tea
 The horhug was done in the same manner as the marmot roast. They took out all the good stuff from inside the goat, then recrammed it back inside with potatoes, onions, and hot rocks. 6 hours later, we cracked that baby open and had a feast.

These men spent HOURS trying to get all that stuff out of that goat. 
Meanwhile, we partook in many a countryside activity. Horseback riding, sheep herding, baby goat holding...

Later that week... Mom and Dad met Ээж and Аав!

My Mongolian dad presented my American dad with a horse! Dad ceremoniously tied the ribbon around the horse's neck and dubbed him "Jack-Horse." Jack-Horse will be racing in the national Naadam festival this summer. 

And then they were gone! We had a really wonderful time in spite of jet lag, bad roads, and uncooperative national parks. And I'm very glad I got the opportunity to see Mongolia through fresh eyes again. Especially since my time in the country is really winding down FAST. But I'll tell you all about that later. As for Ma and Pa, you guys did a wonderful job travelling about this country and I can't thank you enough for coming. Have you recovered yet?

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