Sunday, September 30, 2007
Yesterday and today have been rather low-key days compared to what we’ve been experiencing thus far; we’re settling into Ulaanbaatar and exploring the neighborhood in which we’re living (the Sansar district, about a 10 minute walk from Narantuul, the black market). Yesterday we ate at “Khaan Buuz” (roughly translates as "King Dumpling"), the most famous of Mongolian fast food chains. As one might expect, Mongolian fast food joints serve Mongolian food. We ordered two staples of Mongolian cuisine, buuz (steamed mutton dumplings) and tsoivan (noodles with meat and a few vegetables- mostly carrots).
We also have already managed to accumulate a few cool gifts that I thought those who usually read this blog in its crafty incarnation might enjoy.
First, the photos above and just below are of a large model ger (also sometimes called a yurt, this is the traditional Mongolian nomadic home) that we received as a wedding present from Zorigo, Alta, Urna and Tuguldur. The first photo is of the outside, and the second is the inside. Note the attention to detail- the fire is burning and traditional Mongolian items are on the walls. They commissioned a friend of the family to make it for us.
Next, a felted calendar made by a fair trade shop in UB. I bought one of these when I was in Mongolia in 2005 and my mom really loved it, so I got another one for her. Note the felted camel on the bottom. The two bones hanging under the camel are shagai, or sheep ankle bones. Shagai are used to play a bunch of games that are roughly equivalent to marbles. The four sides of the bone each represent a different animal (sheep, horse, goat, and camel). It’s a lot of fun.
Finally, a beautiful embroidered Kazakh wall hanging from our friends Ally and Layton. They recently renewed their wedding vows- I wish we could have been there (though they live in Mongolia, the ceremony was in the US in August but it happened just before we left to come here). Anyway, this was a gift from the ceremony, along with two DVDs full of home movies, photos and songs. Kazakhs primarily live in the westernmost province of Mongolia (Olgii), and this form of embroidery is very traditional. I think it’s beautiful, and can’t wait to find the perfect place to hang it in our house when we get back!