JUNE 27, 2009: SATURDAY

GOODBYE MY FRIEND



...but before we leave, I want to pay ommage to the "Ger". I have been waiting for this post because I find the Ger to be most fascinating!


The Ger is the traditional Mongolian dwelling, most of us in the west know it as a Yurt (or maybe you didn't know that either ;) but this is the term the Russian nomads of southeastern Siberia use for their similar structures. On our trip, Melanie S. from Montana explained their shape best; Like an American Indian Teepee but in the shape of a Grain Bin. The outermost layer is type of canvas (usually dyed white) and underneath that there are several blankets of wool. One Mongolian explained that this is usually sheep wool that is put into vats of water, mixed together, pressed out in "blankets" and dried (they felt much like a saddle blanket). This layer provides cool in the summer and warmth in the winter.



The structure that supports this unusual shape is a series of foldable, accordian-like walls that are stretched out and shaped around in a circle. A center support is raised in the middle of the circle and then supports (wood sticks) are tied to the center and the exterior "lattice" wall.


They are incredibly ornate and beautiful. I was continually mesmerized with the ger from both the outside and the inside. They are practical in every sense and in every season and they are ingenousely simple. Most families can set up a ger in 1 hour and tear it down in 30 minutes.


The ger came to be out of necessity and it is not a novelty today, it is just as usefull as it was 2000 years ago. Over half of Mongolians are still nomadic and move their herds as many as 6 times a year. When the herd needs to be moved, the ger must be moved too.


The Ger is the defining symbol of Mongolia for me. Much like the people who live in them, they are strong, practical, simple, mobile and they are inviting and peaceful.


________________________________

HOME, SWEET HOME...after 27 hours of airplanes and airports...

We boarded our plane at 6am at Chinggis Khan Airport in Ulaanbaatar and were off to Beijing, China.
Thankfully we had a 3 hour layover in Beijing because we had to go
through 5 passport checkpoints and a few medical checkpoints. Then, we
couldn't find our luggage...hence the "luggage inquiries" sign above my head!

From there we flew to Seoul, South Korea, then to Seattle, Washington, then to Helena, Montana and finally to Billings, Montana.

The Seoul Airport had "arts and crafts" for weary travelers
like us with a 6 hour layover.
Christi and I painted Korean hand fans for Rigley.

After weeks of great Mongolian food, we
decided it was time to reintroduce our bellies
to fine American Cuisine! Hello to the King!

Because we crossed the international Date Line going back to the US, we arrived home 12 hours after we boarded our first plane but were really flying for 25 hours!


As stepped down the stairs at the airport toward baggage claim, we were greeted by my parents and Rigley; Danger was frantically wagging his tail outside...

as you can imagine...

the rest is too personal to write...



the end.

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