worldwide walkabout the tiniest bird takes a walk.

29Oct/092

series of unfortunate events

because of the sometimes ethereal nature of digital photos, i have tried to be extremely careful about backing up my files. i invested in a new flash drive, along with a spindle of dvds when i returned to ulaanbaatar from our tour with the intention of holding tight to the various portraits, landscapes, and funny moments of the journey.

i spent several hours transferring and organizing photos onto the flash drive, only for it to be stolen from under my nose at the guest house the next day.

then i loaded the images onto the computer at the guest house and tried to burn the images onto a dvd. no dice.

bit the bullet, bought another flash drive, went to an internet cafe, tried unsuccessfully to load it, went to another internet cafe, had a lot of problems...

with all the shuffling and a virus from the internet cafe computer, i lost about 400 photos. tried unsuccessfully to recover images from the shop where i had photos printed to send people, tried unsuccessfully to recover images from the three computers i had used...

i am so sad.

15Oct/091

khovsgol lake-wedding!

after the girls left, i had a day of catching up with myself: laundry, snack gathering, bank excursion, and time for a book! at this time i met chimgee, a very sweet woman from ulaanbaatar who was leading a tour-she and her horse guides were so beautiful! it was nice to meet them and also to rest up after so much craziness. the next day i was to sign up for some more crazy...

i was lucky enough to have met oumba, another tour guide and somehow was able to coordinate attending a wedding in his village.

when we arrived, enxstensteg, the bride, was busy cooking a big pot of special soup for all of the guests. their home was filled with food: two large plates of candies, dairy wafers, and cheese, two whole cooked sheep, and more candy. shots of vodka were offered to the guests, along with gifts and money. after the shots were distributed, guests hung monetary offerings on a string and throughout the day a few villagers got progressively more drunk. their drunken state was the source of much entertainment for guests-there were roars of laughter for drunken swing-and-misses. however, when they became violent or belligerent, they were dragged out of the yurt and it was only a matter of time until they'd stagger back in.

overall it was an interesting day and i was happy to be able to offer the newlyweds photos to document their special day. banbold, the groom, was especially warm and welcoming!

also at this time i met chimgee and her horse guides-what beautiful people of mongolia!they were returning from some exciting excursions.

15Oct/091

ulaanbaatar to horseriding at khovsgol lake

finally made it to mongolia! it's been seven years of dreaming!

li na, fu rao, and i had a very comfortable cabin in the train and the journey was overnight and into the morning. arriving in ulaanbator was very exciting! because the girls were on a tight schedule, we caught an overnight jeep to khovsgol lake...i didn't know exactly what i was signing up for until it was too late.

i had heard tales about just how packed mongolian public transport is; indeed it was no lie. luggage was jammed in as tightly as the humans and we left two hours later than anticipated. the roads were smooth for a short section and then changed to some very rough and dusty and supremely nauseating terrain. i coated the side of the jeep with many layers of vomit. the few moments i dozed off i was awoken by banging my head on the window because of the turbulent ride. we arrived in moron 15 hours later after only stopping once for a meal and to drop people off in the countryside. the landscapes are seriously beautiful and amazingly desolate.

the girls wanted to travel the 100 km north to the lake right away so we had a little to eat and made the three hour journey on some more bumpy roads. we were excited about the guesthouse in khatgal-we stayed in a yurt and went for a two day horse trek around the southwest part of the lake. beautiful! i did, however, fall off my half wild mongolian horse...my dream was to visit mongolia, buy a horse, and travel the countryside on horseback. obviously, i had never met a mongolian horse nor experienced a wooden saddle when i thought of these plans!

we stayed with porve, dadka, nuamka and baby nanda by the lake for one night, a delightful experience. we helped saw wood, carry water from the lake, make mutton dumplings, entertain the baby, and even got to see yaks get milked!

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15Oct/094

erlian and at the border

after much difficulty with transportation and other logistics, i finally arrived at the mongolian border only to realize that the crossing was closed due to the holiday. ha ha.

however, erlian was the first city in some time where people were more friendly and helpful which was such a relief. the owners of the hotel were so incredibly kind and invited me to have lunch, dinner and breakfast with them! (lunch was intense mutton hot pot which didn't quite agree with me but it was nice of them) they also took me back out to the dino fields we had passed on the bus-seriously nice people.

everything worked out great because the next morning i met li na and fu rao, two fine chinese ladies who were also headed to mongolia. we ended up traveling together for as long as we could-more later on that...

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15Oct/090

long train journey and horrible hohhot

because i was really starting to worry about the upcoming cold weather in mongolia, i embarked in the 39 hour long haul from chengdu to hohhot, inner mongolia. the scenery was, of course, beautiful and the train was comfortable. i was nevertheless excited to get off of the train and see a new place. already peoples' faces were so different.

i walked around for a long, long time searching for a place to stay. hotels were expensive; i had found a good one but after checking in got booted from my room because i was a foreigner! most people were much less than helpful. after walking around for two more hours, i settled on paying too much for a hotel.

getting out of hohhot was insane-i have never experienced such aggressive crowds, but after all it was one of the biggest holidays. people had much difficulty getting onto their buses because of the disorganized system and pushing and shoving. i really wanted to take photos to try and explain but figured it'd be better not to get jacked.

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15Oct/093

glam

while walking around renmin park, chengdu, i saw advertisements and sample photos from the glamour studio. i thought of my friend ali douglass and her great idea to make a glam hut and felt inspired to pose for some shots. i had no idea that i was signing up for: many, many hours of hair, make up, wardrobe change and two extremely painful photo sessions. i am, however, really enjoying the humor in the results.

thank you ali douglass, and thank you jesus.

love,

wei h.

15Oct/091

chengdu

it was quite nice to arrive at the lower elevation and therefore warmer temperature! i had a fun time exploring around the modern city of chengdu-renmin park was an absolutely fascinating place: free music and dance performances galore, tea houses, goldfish ponds, bonsai trees, paddle boats, sugar paintings, kite flying, an amusement park, and even glamour shots! (please see "glam" entry) also, chengdu is famous for its panda breeding center-i was a bit afraid that the place would only be filled with sad pandas-so i was pleasantly surprised when i saw many playful pandas. only a few sad ones.

the only thing about the visit was that the hostel was quite full of thieves! i left my nalgene soap bottle in the shower by accident, it disappeared, one of my drying shirts went missing from the hostel room (i guess whoever was going to steal it changed their mind and ditched my please-don't-eat-me-i-love-you pig t-shirt upstairs), and my black diamond headlamp was stolen from the room! (bent about the last one)

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