originally posted by Katherine at 7th August 2012 at 00:21
It’s been a busy couple of days in UB. Yesterday seemed to pass in a blur – one moment I was meeting Erik from the US and Ivo from the UK at 40K Café on Peace Avenue; the next moment I was cursing the pickpocket who stole my telephoto lens right off of my camera! That’s right – I survived a trip to the Black Market unscathed, but once I set foot into a swanky cashmere store on Peace Avenue, I was easy pickings for some sad low-life with a quick set of fingers. And it’s not like I had been warned or anything; but I guess I had let my guard down. I was happily perusing scarves and sweaters when I looked down and had a classic Canadian reaction: “Oh dear, my lens has fallen off! I’ll just trot back to that souvenir section because they probably have picked it up….wait a minute…”
But no, it was well and truly stolen. I trudged back somewhat dejectedly to Zaya’s, considered barricading myself in my room to ensure no further catastrophes, but there was Alison with a wonderful pick-me-up - new arrivals at the guesthouse – Canadians! I was pleased to make the acquaintance of Gaye, Al and Gerhard from Kamloops BC, who are joining Alison on a 14 day horse trek in the western provinces. Wow, and I thought the Derby was ambitious! Needless to say, we enjoyed some excellent visiting, ventured out into the public for sustenance and beers, and salvaged what could have been a somewhat wretched day.
Luckily I had my other non-telephoto lens with me and I was able to carry on with some photos today on our excursion out of town to a Mercy Corps project. You’ll just have to use your imagination as to what those specks are way back in the distance, as I would have zoomed in on them had I had my other lens (I hereby curse the pickpocket once more.)
Early this morning at the crack of 10-ish, ten of us Derbiers, a couple of Mercy Corps people and our faithful photographer Ben all piled into a mini van for a trip to the Huh Nuden textile and garment cooperative in Zuunmod Town in Tov province. This cooperative, a beneficiary of Mercy Corps, produces some of the beautiful handmade wool and felt items that you can find for sale all over UB. I am happy to say that with funds raised specifically by us Derby competitors, they have been able to install heating so they can continue to work through the winter months, and to install a wheelchair ramp, giving the disabled of the community a chance to access the building and earn a living.
One of our hostesses shows us the proper way to spin the goat and camel fibres into yarn
Erik from Team USA apprentices for a job with the cooperative
Why does the camel have a black hat? I guess all the red hats were taken.
Erin from Team USA gratefully accepts a cup of airag. I have to say I didn't mind it all - it's kind of like beer mixed with milk. I had two cups and survived to tell the tale.
Our visiting done, airag drunk, mutton devoured and goodbyes said, we carried on to the Manzshir monastery located in the valley of Bogd Khan Mountain National Park, enjoying some incredible scenery, a bit of history, and even some hiking.
Enroute to the remains of the monastery, most of which was destroyed under theoccupation of Mongolia, and is now in the process of being restored
Blue prayer cloth tied to monastery door - it is customary to say a prayer or ask for a blessing and leave a cloth behind
A prayer offering stone - I am happy to report I left an offering of tugriks to ask for safe travels for me and my companions in the days to come
Mattias from Team Sweden jumps for joy high up on the side of the mountain near the monastery - check out the view!
Intrepid photographer Ben from the UK does his best "Usain Bolt Imitation"
Time for a little yoga on the mountain
We had some fun playing ball with this young Mongolian girl
Tomorrow begins the official countdown to the start of the Derby, with the first day of pre-race training. Then it’s off to the start line on Wednesday morning (the 8) for two more days of training, and then we’re off! If I don’t get a chance to update before then, I’ll be checking in periodically via text from the great beyond. Don’t forget to check www.mongolderby.com and watch my marker move with astonishing speed. If it’s going too fast, just assumed I have changed my mind about this whole deal and have taken off in a borrowed jeep for Kazakhstan. Either way, wish me luck!