Mongolian beer bottle opener

I was really quite surprised, when at the hunting lodge, Baatar mentioned to me that Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize.  I had not heard about it until then.  After we discussed the merits of him receiving the prize, we talked about some of the “inventions” that should have also earned the Nobel prize.  I’ve heard the pros and cons about his getting the reward, but I can say this: he has certianly bridged the gap between the US and many other nations (Russia comes to mind).

Later, it became a running joke throughout the week as we pointed out some of the “genius” inventions that should have received the prize: the hooded sweatshirt, the timer on the digital camera, the bic lighter, and of course, the bottle opener.

Forget the bottle opener; one of the most clever inventions I had seen yet was the bottle opener built right into the bottom of the Kazakh & Mongolian beer bottles.  When you need to pop a bottle cap off, you just insert it into another beer bottle bottom and twist it right off.  I captured this video of it in action:

 

 

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Kazakh museum at Ulgi

At the completion of the eagle hunting trip, Baatar took me to the local Kazakh museum in Ulgi.  I “pretended” to mount the stuffed horse and Baatar took my photo.  We certainly thought it was funny and had a good laugh over it; the curator looked on with an expressionless and grim gaze.  The museum told the story of how the Kazakh people came to move to Bayan Ulgi following an invite from the Mongolian government.  The museum had fine examples of Kazakh clothing, jewelry and ornaments, weapons, an authentic ger (round felt tent), and had many other exhibits.

These are traditional Kazakh wedding costumes.  The man dressed in the robe on the left including the funny looking conical hat.  On the way to the wedding, he was “challenged” by the women of the town – most often the relatives of the bride – they were allowed to insult him and tease him, and by tradition, he had to take it all without reaction.

Inside the museum they had a proper ger on display.  It is really quite amazing to see the oppulence that some of these ger homes exhibited.  Remember, all of this furniture must be moved by horseback as the ger is relocated to summer grazing grounds and winter hunting grounds.

There were also military displays and in this case I saw a Mosin Nagant (7.62mm Russian rifle) that had been “sporterized” into a hunting rifle and given to a Kazakh hero as a gift for his many years of service (I thought that Mike would get a kick out of this pic).

Following the museum tour, we made our way to the local Turkish restaurant and had some tasty lamb and chicken kebaabs.  3 or 4 of the professors from the Turkish university came in to eat and Baatar told me the history of this business.  A Turkish man came to town and found a local Kazakh woman to marry and then relocated to Ulgi and began this restaurant.  It is a favorite of not only the Kazakh locals but also for the Turkish staff of the college.  Turkey has invested in universities and schools for children in an attempt to reunify the different Turkic peoples to a common Turkish culture.  There is a push by Turkey to unify all of the different Turkic countries into a common Turkish culture to establish better trading and economic alliances.  As Kazakhstan and some of the other central Asian countries are rich in mineral wealth, Turkey and the other countries of such an economic alliance could benefit considerably.

Outside of the museum many of the people of Ulgi were wearing their H1N1 “swine flu” masks as the fear of the flu has spread from Ulaanbaatar to the rest of the country.


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my tour guide Baatar

Throughout this tour, we spent countless hours on horseback, in our Scooby-Doo van driving across the Mongolian countryside, and while sitting in our hunting lodge.  Without the distractions of radio, television, and internet, I had a lot of time to talk and share stories with my tour guide Baatar.  He was a wealth of knowledge and I really appreciated the history and stories that he shared with me along the way.

In our van, we most often we drove on roads that were no more than the tire tracks left in the snow by the vehicle that passed earlier in the day or maybe even from the day previous.  Sometimes, we had to make our way across the snow and make our own tracks.  It was always preferable to follow in another truck’s tracks so that you don’t run into any “surprises” in the snow.

I was very impressed with Baatar’s  knowledge of history; not only Mongolian history but Chinese and Russian history as well.  We talked and talked for hours and I learned much from him.  He was an excellent guide and really took good care of me on this trip.  I captured the photo above on our drive back to Ulgi from Altai Village.

For anyone reading this blog who is interested in a tour in Mongolia, whether it be to the Gobi Desert or to Bayan Ulgi, Baatar can be found at Nomadic Expeditions in Ulaanbaatar:

http://www.nomadicexpeditions.com/home

As always, the scenery impressed me with its varied diversity in colors and beauty.



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Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

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