Bayan Gobi mini-Naadam
It was pouring when we reached the Bayan Gobi ger camp, and we got
drenched just in the short run from the vans to our gers. But the rain
didn't last long.
As a trial for the big Naadam event in ten days, a "mini-Naadam" was
being held just outside the camp; it got underway in the late
afternoon. Between us and a Korean tour group
and the locals there was a reasonable crowd.
First we watched the riders - several dozen - circle three times around
us, before heading off to the starting line, some ten kilometres away.
The jockeys ranged from as young as 6 (possibly younger) up to about 12
Then the wrestling started. There were a few pros, who had proper
uniforms and looked the part, but a couple of dozen participants all up.
(One tourist tried a round but was thrown pretty quickly.) The first to
touch the ground with any part of their body other than the feet loses;
he passes under the arm of the winner, who does an "eagle" victory dance.
Next up was the archery, where only one competitor - the camp owner -
seemed to be really good. Justin and Patti had a go from our group,
and Justin did quite well.
We (or at least some of us) jumped over the little river to watch the
riders come in. The half dozen leaders were quite closely bunched and
came in within a minute of each other.
Naadam features the three "manly" sports of
horse-racing, wrestling and archery. But women (or girls) participate
in both the racing and the archery and, while they don't wrestle, the
folk explanation for the skimpy costumes worn by the wrestlers is that
they are to stop women entering secretly - they were introduced after
a woman did that and beat everyone!
Peter and Eve and I went for a walk through some sand dunes north and
east of the camp.
Next: sand dunes + camel riding
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