Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


  • Photo: “Camel Herding” by David Swindler: “Since we are in Mongolia, what could be better than taking on the role of a camel herder! It was a cold morning in the Gobi Desert as evidenced by the camel’s breath. Fortunately, we warmed up quickly as we climbed the steep dunes with the camels. Immediately after I snapped this shot, the camel came up and kissed Evelyn on her shoulder. What a memorable morning we had with these magnificent animals!” (Thank you for sharing Christie!)
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again.

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


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Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


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Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


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Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


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  • Humps and hair. That’s the scene in Bulgan Soum, a tiny Mongolian town in the middle of the Gobi Desert about 160 miles north of the Chinese border. Bactrian camels arrive in all directions on foot, bearing bundled-up riders wedged between their two humps. It’s early March. While the sky is cloudless, the wind can pick up quickly. Officially called the Thousand Camel Festival, the crowd that arrives for the kickoff appears to consist of 100 camels. The two-day festival begins with a camel beauty pageant.”  Don’t miss full story and video at NPR: Where Camels Become Beauty Queens: Inside Mongolia’s Biggest Camel Festival. (Thank you Moira for sharing!)
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • 12,000km Camel Caravan to Share Mongolian Nomadic Culture With the World. Read more: Mongolia to London by Camel. (Thank you Sawsan and Esam for sharing.)
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Photo: NatGeo – Bactrian camels have two humps on their backs where they store fat. Arabian camels, called dromedaries have only one hump, but both these types of camels use their stored fat as energy and water when they are far away from food and a freshwater source. Bactrians’ nostrils close to block sand, and their bushy eyebrows and two rows of long eyelashes protect their eyes from blowing sand and ice. Baby camels are born with their eyes open and can run when only a few hours old. Camels move both legs on one side of the body forward at the same time, like giraffes and race horses. This is called pacing. The only truly wild camels that still exist are Bactrian camels. These herds survive in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and China, but number less than 400. They are critically endangered in the wild.
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Photograph by Blake Bailey (Badain Jaran, Inner Mongolia, China)
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

Sunday Morning


Upon arriving in the huge, landlocked country of Mongolia—more than seven times larger than Great Britain—you may be taken aback by the runaway developments in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Ever since some of the world’s largest gold and copper deposits were discovered, some within 70 miles of the city, Mongolia’s economy has taken off like a rocket…But then you hear that more than half of the 1.4 million people in the capital still live in settlements dominated by gers (a traditional style of yurt, like a domed felt tent), sometimes in shockingly simple conditions…

As soon as I ventured out of the city and began bumping across the level, otherworldly steppes of Mongolia, in fact, I realized that nothing I’d seen in 40 years of traveling across Asia could compare with its great, heart-clearing stillness. Within 30 minutes of the hyper-malls, herders will welcome you into their gers to share a feast of marmots, roasted sheep and freshly boiled goats’ heads, much as they might have done in the time of Genghis Khan, the warrior who masterminded the Mongol Empire in the 13th century. If the horsemen who rode all the way to Europe to extend that empire were to return to their ancestral spaces next week, they’d feel right at home.

Part of the special beauty of rural Mongolia is that it redefines everything you thought you knew. A road, I realized as soon as I was jouncing past Bronze Age burial mounds, is a red-dirt scratch across the void; a sight is a jeep the size of an ant, inching across the horizon. A town in the steppes could pass for a subway station almost anywhere else; once, after hours of nothingness, I stopped at a ger camp to find that it also served as a meditation space, a car-repair shop and a leather-tanning workshop. No wonder. Gazing out miles and miles in every direction, I could catch nothing but emptiness—vast enough for the mind to go anywhere (or nowhere at all)—and the sound of the wind, whipping in my ears…

Mongolia haunts a visitor as few other destinations can. After I’d returned home, the power of stepping out of my luxury ger in the Gobi to be met by a 74 million–year-old volcanic outcropping, the eeriness of knowing that dinosaur bones were all around, had gotten inside of me, like a shared dream I couldn’t shake.

In a world flooded with distractions, Mongolia returns one to something ancestral. The clock has little meaning here. Days turn into an ageless cycle of random moments, scanning of the heavens, simple meals, long journeys. Often I didn’t know whether I was traveling into the past or the future. I could simply tell that this was a place that everybody would recognize, if only because it’s somewhere lost inside most of us, lodged like the people we once were and might one day again become.

~ Pico Iyer, excerpts from The Heart-Clearing Stillness of the Mongolian Countryside (wsj.com, February 27, 2018)


Notes:

  • Inspired by Maggie O’Farrell in “I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death“: “When Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was read to me and Alice sighs, “Oh, how I long to run away from normal days! I want to run wild with my imagination,” I remember rising up from my pillow and thinking, yes, yes, that’s it exactly. The school trip showed me that it was possible to ease this longing, to sate it. All I had to do was travel. After he had sailed around the Mediterranean in 1869, Mark Twain said that travel was “fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Neuroscientists have been trying for years to pin down what it is about travel that alters us, how it effects mental change. Neural pathways become ingrained, automatic, if they operate only by habit. They are highly attuned to alterations, to novelty. New sights, sounds, languages, tastes, smells stimulate different synapses in the brain, different message routes, different webs of connection, increasing our neuroplasticity…I sensed this, at an instinctive level, at age seventeen. That unassailable flood of novelty, the stimulus of uncharted territory, the overload of the unfamiliar, with all synapses firing, connecting, signalling, burning new pathways. I have never forgotten that bus ride from the airport into the centre of Rome, my first sighting of the city. And I have never lost the thrill of travel. I still crave the mental and physical jolt of being somewhere new, of descending aeroplane steps into a different climate, different faces, different languages. It’s the only thing, besides writing, that can meet and relieve my ever-simmering, ever-present restlessness. If I have been too long at home, stuck in the routine of school-runs, packed lunches, swimming lessons, laundry, tidying, I begin to pace the house in the evenings. I might start to cook something complicated very late at night. I might rearrange my collections of Scandinavian glass. I will scan the bookshelves, sighing, searching for something I haven’t yet read. I will start sorting through my clothes, deciding on impulse to take armfuls to the charity shop. I am desperate for change, endlessly seeking novelty, wherever I can find it. My husband might return from an evening out to discover that I have moved all the furniture in the living room. I am not, at times like this, easy to live with. He will raise his eyebrows as I single-handedly shove the sofa towards the opposite wall, just to see how it might look. “Maybe,” he will say, as he unlaces his shoes, “we should book a holiday.”
  • Photo: Frederic LaGrange – “Still Waters.” A full moon rises over a pond near Buir Lake in eastern Mongolia, near the Chinese border.
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