More competitions were organised for the Eagle Festival but we had woken to a wild, windy day with dust blowing everywhere. So the group decided that the morning could be better spent exploring Olgii town, particularly the market. I believe there was an ulterior motive on the part of some of the group… shopping perhaps!
However, the ‘shoppers’ didn’t find much in this part of the market to their liking! They were soon off to see if they could find crafts and cashmere.
I found the market most interesting. In the leather section, I even found tins of Korean made “Kangaroo Brand” shoe polish. It brought back memories of the last time I was in Mongolia. Damn good polish it proved to be as well.
It was no use looking for cashmere amongst these rolls of brightly colourful linoleum.
This was not a market for tourists but for the locals… their needs paramount.
So back to the Festival where there seemed to be a very relaxed atmosphere on this, the second day. It was possible to be right beside a competitor, their mount and their eagle.
One of the more fascinating sports was a tug of war, on horseback, using a headless goat.
Not only was the goat headless, but the legs had been cut off at the ‘elbows’. Made hanging on to the beast even harder.
It was a real test of strength and horsemanship. The galloping, turning horses combined with the strong wind made it very dusty on the field and not at all pleasant. But it was somehow quite mesmerising to watch this crazy ‘sport’. At least the goat was being tenderised!
Another competition required the rider to pick up a coin from the ground at full gallop! There was great skill required to perform this seemingly impossible task… many failed.
When all the competitions were over, it was time for winners to be announced. Since I didn’t really understand the announcements, I decided to take photographs of the more obvious reactions amongst the competitors during the proceedings. That was rather fun.
The chief judge soon had everyone’s attention… he had the all important list of winners.
A young competitor and his hooded eagle awaited the results… hopeful… maybe.
A worried looking owner. His eagle looked totally disinterested in the results…
maybe it was one of the ‘naughty’ eagles that soared in the thermals!
Other hopefuls milled around on their horses.
Finally, one of the winners was announced. For what, I wasn’t sure.
But big congratulations all round.
Will I, won’t I? Maybe?
Yes!!! They say: ‘winners are grinners’… and this grinner was indeed a winner!
Another medal winner… slightly less ecstatic with his good fortune…but he couldn’t take
his eyes off his medal. Winners were also presented with a certificate.
And this was his medal.
Looking on with us was James, a friend Tim made here on a previous visit.
After a fascinating afternoon, we returned to our ger camp… and what we found was utter devastation. Crumpled gers and belongings everywhere. My little tent, although it lost one guy rope, was still standing (right of blue mess tent).
The very strong winds, strong enough to blow a person off their feet, had reeked havoc and blown three of the six gers over. Tim had never heard of this happening before.
A rescue operation was necessary to retrieve our belongings from the toppled gers and to disassemble the still standing gers. This took over an hour to complete.
With no outer felt and calico covering, this ger shows its supporting wooden structure.
Obviously it was just not possible to sleep the night where we were, so Tseren swung into action to find alternative accommodation in Olgii. As it turned out, the lady who ran the bathhouse had been asking Tseren to become a Facebook friend for some time. Now this was the opportunity to see what she could do for us. It just so happened that the bathhouse lady was trying to establish a guest house but she didn’t have any guests staying… even though the town was booked out due to the festival. Here was a real chance for her to make some money. She agreed that all seventeen of us, plus the drivers and cooks, could stay overnight. Somehow we all found room on mattresses and rugs on the floor in various parts of this lady’s house. It was rather amazing… her whole family had just up and left. Personal possessions such as pills and watches were still on shelves and ledges in the rooms… ’twas as if the owners had fled from some impending catastrophe. Perhaps we were that catastrophe?
It was not a good night’s sleep. But what can you do! That’s life.
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