Well, we rolled in from Mongolia late Saturday…it was quite a trip. Fantastic, but not at all relaxing! Horseback riding, lots of driving across the endless steppe, and horse milk, horse cheese (dry and fresh types!) and horse milk liquor.
Mongolia is only a 5 hour flight from Tokyo but it seems to be another planet. It’s so open and vast, especially when compared to Tokyo. We went to see the Naadam Festival, with wrestling, archery and horse racing. Amazing and definitely worth seeing. The opening ceremony had parachuters (one crashed into the traditional dancers performing on the ground), a stretch Hummer limo, a famous Mongolian rock band (?) singing a song about Ghengis Khan, some trick riding, and an appearance by Mongolian wrestler who was famous as a sumo wrestler in Japan. All in all, it was quite a spectacle.
But besides the amazingly open spaces and endless sky, one major highlight was definitely our driver. (Foreigners can’t drive in Mongolia, which was just as well, considering the insanity we saw on the roads). If there’s too much traffic, drivers just swing into the oncoming traffic lane. When oncoming traffic comes head-on at them, they just go right off the road and drive on the shoulder. The cars are imported from Japan and Korea, mostly, so everyone’s steering wheel is on a different side. Also, any vehicle maneuver is acceptable as long as you blow the horn first.
Our driver, Mr. Degi, was a craggy Mongolian guy who didn’t speak a word of English, was probably about 50, and looked like he could lift a truck single-handedly. He was solid. He was driving us around in an old Hyundai sedan, which he man-handled down 45 degree banks, through fields, and around monstrous, hungry potholes. I’d be afraid of what the man could do with a Land Cruiser. He was just so….Mongolian. Awesome. Actually, even the tiny kids there were able to ride a horse, lasso stray animals, and milk any domestic animal, plus they live in gers (also known as yurts, but that’s the Russian word) when it’s -40 Celsius. We did spend most nights in a ger and it was pretty nice, but I can’t imagine it in winter.
Horseback riding by the Kherlen River.
One of the gers we stayed in.
On the cultural side, we visited a nomadic family, saw some Mongolian throat singing (you must hear it to believe it) and saw some amazing contortionists, which are popular in Mongolia. It was quite a trip!
Anyway, you knew nail polish was going to creep in somehow, so here it is, done on medium length nail tips:
Mongolian Manicure, with the flag on three fingers:
My mani is more color accurate to the flag than the image above, the blue was actually medium dark. I did the yellow image (called the Soyombo) with a nail art pen I got on Ebay. Don’t waste your time, those things are the dickens to use.
Here’s the rest:
Some blue sky on the pinkie with fluffy white freehand clouds, and here’s the thumb:
A galloping horse, courtesy of Fauxnad. Notice my hands aren’t ghostly white? The sun was pretty intense, despite my wearing sunblock even on my hands. Now I look more like a lightly toasted marshmallow, rather than an uncooked one. Simple but fun manicure- my first one in a couple weeks. I actually saw quite a few manicures in the capital city but didn’t have the chance to score any Mongolian nail polish. I thought I saw some OPI in the department store but I couldn’t see the price.
I hope everyone is having a fun, safe summer! Oh- and my Etsy shop is back online- with a 20% off sale on all items excluding custom orders and glue.