[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: "From Super Power to Soviet Satellite"

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"From Super Power to Soviet Satellite"

The title of a book about Mongolian history. Quite fascinating. Hard to believe this country of 3 million so high up almost conquered the known world. And they threw it all away over some ritual of returning to Mongolia due to the death of Khaan.
I went there mainly to get away from the drudgery of work in Beijing and man, once I got to Camp Toilogt in Muren I fully realised how much I needed a vacation! The air was so crisp and clean, the water so fresh and clear. And the scenery! Wow! Literally takes the air out of your lungs. It would probably be a developer's dream since there are huge tracts of virgin land... waiting to be turned into concrete. Good thing I doubt that'll happen on a mass scale in my life time! Which of course definitely warrants a few more visits in the near future. One aspect I'll also miss are the spectacular starry nights. Because Mongolia is so high up above sea level, the stars even seemed a little closer. I only noticed this after going out for a noctural pee, and I stood staring up at the sky for almost 20 minutes. I had then realised how much I missed this feeling of feeling so humble and mesmerised about how small and insignificant I am. (In a good way)

Don't recommend Ulaanbatar though, what a dump. I guess it's hard for a nomadic race to get used to city life, which pretty much explains why everything's so haphazard and dirty. You got to respect the Mongolians though, their history certainly demands respect of them.

Pics of Muren & Ulaanbatar and a secondary set of the crazy runners who did the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 100km marathon which was the main reason my friend invited me to go. Photographing the runners really inspired me to try a marathon. Although I like running and jogging, the idea of a marathon never crossed my mind. But seeing them how happy and fulfilled they were after completing the gruelling course really inspired me to try... not 100km of course, a half-marathon first at least! Check out for details of their next race.

It was also good timing since the trip included a visit to Mongolia's Naadam festival, an annual sports event featuring the 'Three Manly Sports': Horse racing, archery and wrestling. The wrestling is well-known - big half-naked guys wearing speedos... manly indeed.