Nadam. Mongolias National Day of Celebration
Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
257Trip End Jan 31, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
After getting back to the hostel I spent some time getting the windows 7 file copied off of the computer onto a USB stick so that I could take it to the DVD burning place and make myself a DVD I could use to fix the laptop. Not sure how easy this will be to do in russia and want to make sure I leave Mongolia with a working computer. Headed down to the DVD burning place but found it closed (not unexpected).
Had told the guys on the tour about the Choijin Lama show and since I hadnt seen it yet decided to head to the temple to watch the show. The show had lots of different types of acts most of whose names were prefixed with the words “Mongolian Traditional …“. Acts included singing, dancing and various string instruments. One such dance was a shamon dance which seemed very put on
Another act was a contortionist who twisted themselves into all kind of shapes and show the strength of her jaw when she held up her body weight (not much granted) with her mouth. As the finally you had dancers come out with the temple masks on. Am guessing there was some kind of story here since the ond man came out first and then the demon masks.
After the show wandered around the temple again and snuck in a few photos without paying the extra photo fee.
Ran into the guys from the tour at the show and from here we headed out for dinner somewhere in town that Zhang had had recommended to him. Ended walking down one side of the square and into a nice (and expensive) restaurant. Ended up getting a couple of dishes for two people which we share. One was like the lamb Hok Rok I had in the Gobi which was really nice. The other had cabbage covered with thin slices of meat. This also wastnt to bad but unfortunatley the meat was a bit to dry.
While here found that Zhang had had his bag slashed at some time. Says he didnt loose anything important but that a bottle of water fell out. Remember see him carry the bag on the from of the body but am guessing he must have put it on his back or been really distracted taking photos not to have noticed the water fall out.
From the restaurant headed to the square which had a few people about and kids driving around in remote controlled cars. Also saw a couple of people doing what I assume is a story for one of the local news programs. Stayed here a bit before heading back to the hostel and calling it a night.
Day 1- Nadam Open Ceremony, Wrestling and Archery
Had heard that the tickets for Nadam were sold out while on the last trip but found that the hostel had some. Guess one of the reason the tickets are sold out so early is because people buy them to sell them on. Had had a guy try to sell me some tickets the night before in the square and probably should have bought one since the hostel was selling them at twice their face value.
On top of that I only ended up going to the opening ceremony since I went to the horse racing on the next day and wasnt really interested in the closing ceremony. Guess I'm only going to be in Mongolia once and the opening ceremony was interesting enough.
After getting the tickets I headed out and decided to try and buy breakfast
After that headed to the square which was suppose to have some parade or other which didnt happen. On the way had a guy come up to me in the shop and ask for aussie coins since he said it was his hobby. Interesting thing about this was that 1 hr later he ran into me at the square and asked again having completely forgotten talking to me earlier.
Spent a bit of time wandering around the square watching people in traditional dress. Lots of people about with many getting dressed up and taking photos at the photo stands all over the place. Also saw lots of remote cars into which kids could climb into and pretend to drive while someone used a remote control to steer the car
While sitting around I also had someone with a camera approach me for an interview. Only the first day so didnt have much to say and if I hadnt been sitting and it hadnt been the start of the day I think I would have just walked off rather than having chatted. Found out later that at least part of it had been aired on TV.
Ran into Ji eun and Zhang here and found that they had decided the cost of the open ceremony ticket was to much and had decided not to buy one. Had originally thought you needed a ticket to see any of the events but found out later that the ticket was only for the opening ceremony since when I visited the archery and wrestling no one asked to see a ticket.
Only had a rough idea where the stadium was but managed to find it from the square by following the crowd of people and traffic flowing across the bridge in the right general direction. Lots of people about and lots of stalls selling things. Even saw an ATM on wheels parked by the stadium. Am guessing they dont want people to run out of money and to keep spending.
Before heading in wandered around the outside of the stadium where the performers were lining up before entering the stadium. Managed to get a few close up pictures here which I wouldnt have gotten inside without a telephoto lens. Probably spent a bit to long here since the opening ceremony had already begun by the time I entered and I missed the parade of horses.
Once inside I found that the seats were all packed. While the ticket has a row number and seat position the seat is only a bench and people are basically crammed on. Wasnt able to find a place and was standing in the aisle until a local was kind enough to make space for me on a seat a few benches below mine. They definitely like to cram people in and I heard that the year before you didnt even get a seat allocation just access to a section.
Found the opening ceremony to be interesting. Very much like the opening ceremony at the olympics or other similar large events. Must have been a few thousand performers with people parading in traditional dress. Had lots of dancers, musicians as well as people dressed up as soldiers and running around. Also had a packed out stadium full of people to watch them.
Other performances included the mask dancers I had seen at the temple the night before and shaman dancing. As part of the finally I think (am guessing a bit) that there was a recreation of Mongolias independence day when you had an exchange between one group of what looked like Mongols and another group of what looked like chinese meet.
Also found that in the parade there were a number of banks and other sponsers of the event taking part. Guessing one of these sponsers were coke since a lot of coke signs were around the place.
After the ceremony the stadium really started to empty out. I decided to hang around a bit to watch the wrestling but was fairly far from it. At this point didnt realise I could go where ever I wanted without a ticket. After a little while had decided to wander around and find the archery but just before leaving ran into Karin and Muriel who had also been here to watch the opening ceremony.
Ended up wandering around to the archery with them but found that their was no archery on at the moment. Along the way we ran into the Korean guy we thought worked in the hostel who said the archery had been during the open ceremony. Had thought this was a strange thing to do but who knows, maybe the archery isnt that popular. Later on found that the korean guy was actually visiting
Kim who worked at the hostel since his father knew him.
Since not much was happening a the archery we ended up deciding to head back into town and grabbed lunch at some random restaurant
After lunch said bye to the girls who were heading to Russia the next day and decided to head back to the stadium. Before doing this headed back to the hostel to check the program for the day and found that the Korean guy had been wrong. Archery was actually on from 1-5pm and I still had time to catch the end of it.
Long walk back to the stadium with lots of people about having lunch in the open area around the event sites. Very much a carnival atmosphere around the whole place.
Made it back to the archery stadium and hang around watching the archery for an hour or so. At one point managed to get past a policeman to get down one side of the shooting range. At the local Nadam had thought it dangerous for people to be in the line of fire but found that this is not really the case since the arrows have rubber heads on them.
Seems that the aim of the competition is for the archer to hit the red iron rings located in the center of a stack of brown iron rings
Nice thing about the archery is that the archers dress up traditionally. Ended up taking way to many photos and as can see with the ones that were uploaded. Zoom definately coming in handy here though a bit more zoom capability would have also been nice.
After the archery decided to head back towards the wrestling for a bit since I had paid for the ticket. At this point I realised that I didnt need the ticket for the wrestling and that the ticket had been only for the opening ceremony. At this point decided to head back into town and visit the square. Found a few people about and a band playing on the stage. Hung around for a bit but then headed back to the hostel just before it started to pour down. Had planned to visit the square that night but was reconsidering.
After a couple of hours headed back out to find that the rain was clearing. It was getting late (sun low) and one part of the sky was clear while another was raining. Ended up getting one of the most vibrant and complete rainbows I have seen and at one point even had the start of a double rainbow. Had been planning to go to an internet cafe but given the weather had improved I headed down to th square.
Found a fair few people here and this only increased as the night went along.
Day 2 – Nadam Horse Racing
Had a 7am start today to get down to the horse race track. Lots of traffic so I guess its lucky we started so early. Found that while driving out we spent as much time on the dirt track by the side of the road, avoiding traffic, as on it.
Had about 3 hours here before having to head back to the minivan which I was hoping I could find. Thankfully it was near the top of a hill by a road so didnt think it would be to hard even with all the cars about.
Lots of people sitting on the hills having picnics and drinking. While walking here could see some activity in the valley floor and from the photo I took it looks like the start of the race taking place.
Seems that we had just arrived to witness the beginning though I wasnt sure what to look for so I pretty much missed it. Guide would definitely be useful here and given the money we paid for transport some info at the bus wouldnt have gone astray
Basically spent the next couple of hours wandering around. Given the number of them flying in the sky it seems that kites were a popular thing for the kids. Also quite a few tents about the place and lots of families. Am guessing that the race is an excuse for many people to have a family day out since you dont actually see that much of the horse racing.
Depending on age the horses race different distance with the shortest one being 8km. Even on the hill you can't see much besides the start and end of the race.
While wandering around also saw lots of people riding there horses. Am guessing that these are people related to the riders. Found that lots of people were riding around in traditional dress so got some good photos but was reluctant to take them of the people head on.
From the hill wandered down into the yurt village which seemed to be a bunch of restaurants selling food to people. As well as this there were a number of side show games for people to play such a putting a small ball through a small hoop
Started wandering back towards the raised seating I had seen and found people lining up along a rope. Wasnt sure why but decided to join them. Found out that the reason was that the riders were heading back and people were lining up to see them come past.
Also seems that a few horses managed to come back without riders. Not surprising since as many riders seemed to be riding without saddles as those with them. Am guessing that part of the reason for this is that a saddle costs more than a horse (I was told). All riders were littles kids who I am told retire before puberty since they start to get to big to race. Guess it must have something to do with the amount of weight on the horse (another possible reason for no saddle).
Interesting to note here that most kids get onto the back of a horse around the age of four. Am guessing that most of the kids I saw on the back of horses were between 6-10 years of age. Both boys and girls.
At this point the crowd started to thicken up as people started to head back to their vehicles and parents went to pick up the riders. Also observed people chasing some horses that had been racing trying to touch the back of them. Not sure why though.
Wandered around a bit more then headed back to the mini van a couple of minutes late
Once back at the hostel I asked about tours going to white lake. Initially talked to Kim whose general attitude was annoting. He talked as if he wanted to help but he never listened or really answered your questions. I many ways his friendliness seemed put on. Ended up talking to bobby who looked stressed but at least was able to organise and coordinate thing. Found that I was having no luck finding a tour here.
Running out of time so decided to wander around to a few other hostels and see if they had anything going. Managed to find two. One was $80 / day and would leave in one or two days and the other was $49/day and would leave the following day. Only thing was that I would need to get public transport back to town since the tour was doing the 10 day trip I had originally wanted to do and so was continuing on.
The public bus would have me back early on the 20th so that I could go and see if my russian visa has been granted (expected but not guaranteed). If not I would then have a couple of days to sort out alternate flights to vietnam.
Ended the day doing some shopping and buying supplies for the trip. Also checked out the DVD burning place but as expected it was closed.