drinking rules in Mongolia

driving north into the snow
Gobi wildlife

We stopped again in Itrindala Village on our way out of town.  A light snowfall began as we pulled in to the gas station and continued to build as we picked up some groceries.  I watched and in the span of only about 15 minutes the snowfall fell heavier and heavier.  I sat in quiet anonymity inside our truck and snapped photos of the Mongolians as they leisurely chatted in the snow as if it was a warm sunny Los Angeles day.

Back at the house we plugged in our phones and computers to charge them; it was very nice to have running water and electricity again.  The family was watching Sumo wrestling; the sport is as popular here as it is in Japan.  My hosts proudly proclaimed that Mongolia had won some Olympic Medals in wrestling and that Mongolia had several world champions.

After dinner, we toasted our hosts and they toasted us as visitors.  I learned the complex ritual of drinking in Mongolia that included dipping a finger and flicking a drop (as I posted in an earlier blog entry).  I found that the Mongolians had the same tolerance for drinking vodka as did the Russians and Ukranians.  The end result was that I spent most of my time trying not to drink so much; I just couldn’t keep up.  In the morning, I found that the prefered Mongolian “hair of the dog” (hangover remedy) amounted to more shots of vodka!

Throughout the night, I learned more and more cultural customs.  For example, it is considered impolite to offer or to receive a drink with one hand; you must use two hands when taking or giving a drink.  If the glass is small, you can hold it with one hand and hold your forearm or elbow with the other hand.  It seemed to me that as long as both hands were involved in the process it would suffice as sufficiently polite.

After our party, Simya and our host played some chess while I blogged.  The family was very hospitable and made me feel right at home.  I really enjoyed their company.


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driving north into the snow
Gobi wildlife

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