Thursday, October 28, 2010

Binder + Dadal Business Trip

This week, I spent 4 days traveling north on a business trip, primarily focused on agriculture and bee-keeping.

Here is the summary:
We took a Toyota Landcruiser, with an elevated suspension and snorkel (air intake on the roof). I actually thought, "wow, this seems unnecessary...especially the snorkel". I was proven wrong.

The drive to Binder was on a dirt-trail, not a road. It was slow-going and bumpy, but the scenery was great. We passed many herds and gers set-up in the countryside. In Binder, we met with the local bee-farming group on multiple occasions. We also participated in the opening celebration for the local radio station (1st station in the area), and there I met the governor. Over the next few days, we went to the bee farms and observed the progress of winterization of the beehives. We stayed in a hostel-like building with 4 single beds, a small table, and a wooden stove. All of the buildings/houses have wooden stoves for heat and cooking. Interestingly, the "hotel" did not have indoor bathroom facilities (no central water system) and no outhouses, so I had to use the facilities at the neighboring school.

We drove up and back to Dadal on 1 day. The purpose of the trip was to meet with their bee-farming community, assess the winterization progress, and to check on the seabuckthorn shrubs. Seabuckthorn is a shrub that grows in this area. It produces small, orange berries which are incredibly healthy. According to Wikipedia, seabuckthorn has 15x as much Vitamin C as orange juice. Seabuckthorn is used in certain drinks/supplements, and is considered a cash-crop in this area.

The geography of northern Khentii (Binder/Dadal) is substantially different from the south/middle of the aimag. This area has many rivers and is forested, particularly the farther north you go. The forest and rivers provide better climate for certain animals, including wolves, fox, boar, bear, elk, etc. I did see 2 foxes when we were leaving Dadal. Anyways, this area reminds me of Colorado (but with smaller mountains). At one point, we were only 40 km from the Russian border (Siberia). The ethnic group of people in this area are called Buryiads, and they came from Siberia. I have mentioned them in previous posts. At one home, we had to take 3 shots of Buryiad vodka (made with fruit and 80 proof) with the grandfather. He has killed a huge boar and the head was hung on the wall.

This area is known for it's historical significance, primarily that of Chinggis Khan. (Referred to as Genghis Khan outside of Mongolia.) He was born outside of Dadal and lived there for many years before moving to other areas of Mongolia, and then conquering most of Asia/Middle East. I was able to visit some of the most important sites with the help of Baacancyrel, the driver. The picture beside is the monument marking the birthplace of Chinggis. It is on a large hill overlooking the Balj river valley.

This is the water-spring that supplied Chinggis and his family. It is located just outside of Dadal and has been supplying water for 800+ years. The blue scarves are used to mark a sacred location in Mongolia, or a spot of significance.

This is a set of stones that form a larger "monolith" in the countryside outside of Dadal. Supposedly, the stones mark the tomb/gravesite of Chinggis' sage/hero. This site is very remote and not well-known. Note that there is only 1 scarf. Also, this site was next to one of the bee-farmers' houses.

This is the convergence of the Onon and Tsenker rivers outside of Binder. This is one of the proposed burial sites of Chinggis Khan (under the rivers). The river already had ice on Oct. 25th. The Onon is known for its taimen (giant salmon) and this is a "popular" tourist spot in the summers. The river is only 3-6 feet deep, and we forded it close to this spot. There were no bridges in this area, so we crossed many streams, stream-beds, and 2 rivers.

This is the monument marking the spot where Chinggis formed the Mongolian country/government in the summer of 1206. It is located a few kilometers south of Binder, near the Onon river. This event is well-documented in most texts of Chinggis and Mongolia. It was the first unification of the warring tribes/clans and is called the khuriltai. Thousands of people attended this event and were hosted here for the entire summer. Tribes from across Mongolia, Siberia, and Northern China (Gobi) came to gathering and joined the Mongol nation.

This is an example of the type of house structure that some of the northern tribes used prior to the ger or wooden house. This particular monument marks the spot of the house of Chinggis' best friend (not sure of the name). It is also located outside of Dadal.

Trip Highlights:

Craziest foods consumed:
honeycomb (with honey still in it)
horse intestine (boiled, for breakfast)

Scariest Moment:
fording 2 large rivers, with water/ice washing up to the windows

Update for Ashley:
She finished and submitted a Millenium Challenge Grant application for non-communicable disease assessment in the aimag. She also bought new black leather high boots (with a small heel) because she "needed" them, according to her co-workers. However, they look nice and will help with her commute in the cold.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! We are keeping up with your adventures and love hearing about your experiences! We also think it would be a wonderful experience for Zach to reside in a yurt during his visit! :) Love, Kristie , Mark, Kylie, & Andrew