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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Just the word Mongolia is enticing, conjuring images of a wild place, wild people and wild horses. And this beutiful country of vast empty steppes, where camels, yaks and nomadic tribes wander freely, is quit eunlike anywhere else. Now sandwiched between Russia and China, in the 13th century Mongolia was the largest and greatest empire eve known.

The best way to get a feel for how hardy Mongols became the most powerful nation in the world under the leadershop of Genghis Khan (Chinngis Khaan) is to sign up for warrier experience in the Khentii Mountains, just to the north west of Ulaan Baatar.

Officially titles 'Chinngis Khaan Warrioer Training', this advetnure should not to be mistaken for a 10-day boot camp. By the time you have finished you will be versed in age-old like bow-making, taught by legendary characters like Matmunkh, one of the only seven bow-makers in all Mongolia. You will learn about traditional vodka distillation, skills like archery, hoser herding and lassoing, and the tactics and campcarft of Mongolia's famous warlords.

Living like a true Mongolian nomad is a "ger"(traditional fetl tent) and traveling across the country's vast plains and though the inspiring Khentii Mountains on horseback feels like a rare priviledge.

Only there are no restaurants, flushing lavatories or television. Life becomes very simple, very quickly, and it feels wonderful. The passing out parade out parade is one final ride on horseback through a landscape hopefully blessed by the Mongol;ian Spirit of the Blue Sky, the warriors favorite deity.

Horses have been central to Mongolian life for centuries, in Mongolian there are more words for these animals than for anything else, and Mongols even drink mare's milk, a salty, sour, fermented concoction. Indeed, horses were the backbone of Genghis Khan's army, by bringing speed and surprise to the battlefield. His communication system was also equine based. Messengers rode vast distance along a network of outposts where fresh horses were always available.

Genghis's soldiers' riding skills, such as the ability to fire bows backwards at full gallop during fake retreats, became legendary and today archery is one fo the three many sports -- the other two traditional national games are weretling and horse racing -- celebrated at annual festivals of the Naadam.

When it comes to learning to control and understand one of the country's horses yourself there can be no better teacher than a Mongolian horseman. You can see a fearlessness in them, a gusto and daredevil spirit as wild as the animals themselves. To be good norseman in Mongolia is to be a great man.

Warrior training involves total commitment -- right down to the clothes you stand up in. Mongolian believe our mordern outdoor clothing sounds strange tot heir finely tuned animals. So, to ride a Mongolian horse you first need to dress like a Mongolian.

Traditional dress, still widely worn, consists of a "del"(long padded gown) -- a cross between a housecoat and a dressing gown. Felt for men and silk for women. Around your waist foes a silk cummberbund and on your feet a pair of leather boots. For Buddhists Mongols, the upturned toes of the boots prevent any unnecessary kiling of insects. One you pass the intial stage and how comfortable you become. Your transition to nomad has begun.

Warrior training is a true adventure in evey sense, though you won't end up fighting anybody unless you fancy a go at Mongolian wrestling techniques. But you will feel the impact of Genghis Khan during this distinctly different and beginning experiences.

(abstracted from the book: UNFORGETTABLE THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE by: Steve Watkins and Clare Jones)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:08 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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