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Incompetent pickpockets and Yak tails

Excitement grows as the Naadam approaches

sunny 26 °C

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

With rain the previous evening our morning excursion to Naran Tuul or the Black Market was set to be both muddy and wet. Located a short distance outside of the city we were able to take a state operated bus there, although with unintelligible signs and maps this was more by luck than planning. Our driver clearly thought of himself as the next Mongolian Michael Schumacher as we lurched, violently, through the chaotic traffic of Ulaanbaatar with neither bus nor neighboring car giving way or acting in anyway helpful to each other.

Come and get your silk

Come and get your silk

We knew we had arrived at the market when the entire busload of passengers decided to disembark en masse. As with all group activities in Mongolia this involved everyone pushing and shoving to get off first. Why we are unclear. Hanging back we avoided the rugby scrum and lost only a few seconds of time. Clearly, Mongolians cannot afford these unnecessary seconds of delay!

The market is billed as a locals market, which it clearly is. As one of the largest markets in Asia, with up to 60,000 visitors every day the vast number of stalls provide for the purchasing of a Ger and all of its associated paraphernalia, horse riding tack, clothes, shoes and handbags. With only a couple of souvenir stalls broadly speaking there is little to hold the interest of the tourist, yet the sights and sounds are fascinating.

Horse tackle for sale at the Black Market

Horse tackle for sale at the Black Market

Young Mongolian’s could be seen purchasing their first del – the traditional all-purpose coat often worn by men and women, new stoves for heating a ger through the winter were being examined and a variety of riding crops tested for strength and flexibility.

Typical Mongolian butchers. Look no refrigeration

Typical Mongolian butchers. Look no refrigeration

Yet, the market as we had been warned did have a darker side. Pickpockets were an issue. At one point a middle aged lady, selling boots, blocked my path. The blockage looked accidental. Yet at the same time a stooped youth approached and tried to put his hand in my pocket. Internal zips on my Rohan trousers, a long shirt and vigilance presented insurmountable challengers for him, yet the approach was disconcerting. Later in the morning another attempt was made on my jacket pocket. Success would have yielded an unused wad of toilet paper (for that is rarely supplied at the required moment) but the pickpocket was never to know that. Later in the week we were to meet up with a Dutch friend, from Olkhon Island who had been pick pocketed three times in the same day. I guess we were lucky that our would be pickpockets were totally incompetent.

Leylandii branches are used as incense. Smell reminds me of home!

Leylandii branches are used as incense. Smell reminds me of home!

Disillusioned and a little disappointed by the market we spent the rest of the day exploring more of the city. Wondering its streets and enjoying the pre-Naadam atmosphere.

Escaping from the Black Market. Perfectly servicable exit just around the corner!

Escaping from the Black Market. Perfectly servicable exit just around the corner!

After an average Indian curry supper we by chance wandered through Sükhbaatar Square to see the presentation of the nine Yak tail banners. Typically, displayed reverentially at the Parliament building, in the morning they would be taken, with all due pomp and circumstance, to the Naadam Stadium to formally open the games.

The band gave us some good tunes

The band gave us some good tunes

The Three elders

The Three elders

This evening traditionally dressed Mongolian soldiers in their blue and red uniforms processed the banners around the Parliament in a pre-Naadam parade to wild excitement and applause from a clearly excited crowd.

The crowd were thrilled as the start of the Nadaam approached

The crowd were thrilled as the start of the Nadaam approached

Even the on duty police seemed to be enjoying the sight keen to take cell phone pictures and talk to their friends, a sight one rarely sees from a professional on duty English policeman.

On your bikes

On your bikes

Got my Yak Tail banner. Check

Got my Yak Tail banner. Check

Chingis would have been proud

Chingis would have been proud

Spare ponies in case of breakdown

Spare ponies in case of breakdown

The Nine Yak Tales are proudly paraded back into Parliament. The whole ceremony appears to simply confirm that they exist!

The Nine Yak Tales are proudly paraded back into Parliament. The whole ceremony appears to simply confirm that they exist!

'Three Little Maids'

'Three Little Maids'

As the ceremony came to an end a couple of Mongolian news reporters tried and failed repeatedly to conclude their televised report on the evenings event. We offered our Producing services!

Lights, camera, action

Lights, camera, action

Posted by jamesh1066 18:06 Archived in Mongolia Tagged ulaanbaatar

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