A Travellerspoint blog

Nadam

The annual Mongolian festival

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Mongolia July 2007 on erodrigo's travel map.

We saw the archers and wrestlers coming into the stadium in their many coloured traditional outfits. Suddenly a loud eruption of enthusiasm from the local people, finally the very important traditional banners are brought in by proud Mongolian horsemen in parade uniforms.
I’m overwhelmed by the power they radiate and the influence their appearance has on the local people. As if Chinggis Khan himself is marching by just three feet away from you.
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After a lovely vegan menu, yes really, we leave Ulaanbataar in a gigantic traffic jam. It looks like all the 55.000 cars from the city decided to leave the city at the same time and all choose the same two lane street out of the city. What was a two-lane two-direction street quickly becomes a four-lane one-direction street, because everyone wants to see the finish of the race between the 5-year old stallions. The odd car that goes in the opposite direction has stopped trying to reach Ulaanbataar and the people are sitting next to it, looking at this big migration.
This 26 km race is so important because for the stallions it decides if they stay a stallion or become just a horse.
After a lovely meal in a French restaurant, which is owned by the typical arrogant Frenchman, we turned in for the night.

Posted by erodrigo 15:28 Archived in Mongolia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Beijing

In preparation for the Olympics

semi-overcast 27 °C

Well I arrived in Beijing and it’s one big building site for the upcoming Olympics.
Traffic is still booming and even more so than two years ago.
The Chinesw people really have discovered fast food because they are getting fat fast.
Luckily the real chinese food is still around and I enjoyed it very much. Tonight I’m going to eat Hot Pot or chinese fondue. Also something which is very good. If you like good food consider coming over.
Today we went to the great wall and the summerpalace. This contains the Marble boat built by the last empress of China. Yes the mother of the poor lonely last emperor of China.
Well tommorrow the real adventure starts when we fly to Mongolia. Two full weeks bumping in fomer Sovjet Kamaz trucks.
I’m sure I/m going to enjoy it.
Bye for now

Posted by erodrigo 18:03 Archived in China Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

Santa Clause, who?

Why the good man actually comes from Turkey.

sunny 18 °C
View Finland May 2007 on erodrigo's travel map.

Today I went to Seurasaari, the open air museum of Helsinki. When you walk the island you get an impression how Finland looked when it was still built in wood.
It was a nice walk through the pine forest with a few very beautiful buildings.
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After this I went on a ferry trip to the Helsinki zoo, which is on an island in front of the city. I’m sorry to say, it’s not worth the money. The island is too small for all the animals being held here which results in too tiny habitats for the animals and therefore you see, especially with the big cats, boredom behavior. This shows itself in endless walking up and down, on a small space, and rubbing their head against the walls.
But on the topic, why doesn’t Santa originally come from Lapland or the North Pole.
Well Santa Clause originates much, much more southern, namely Turkey. What? Yes I kid you not, he was the bishop of Mira in Turkey and he helped the poor with food and gifts. This originated in the Dutch custom of welcoming Sint Nicolaas (in English Saint Nicolas, yep you get it; Saint Nick) every year on the 5 of December in the Netherlands. When the Dutch set out to go and colonize North America starting by finding New Amsterdam (these days called New York) they brought their custom with them and when the English saw this they started to do the same. But since they had trouble with the name Sint Nicolaas, they named him Saint Nicolas, which in time became Santa Clause. And with the English old Saint Nick started to get around and well ended up in Lapland or if you like on the North Pole.
Well now you know it all, so don’t let me ever catch you on saying that you don’t know where Santa Clause comes from.

Posted by erodrigo 19:29 Archived in Finland Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Don't built forts

Why it's useless and absorb all off your nations cash

sunny 18 °C
View Finland May 2007 on erodrigo's travel map.

Yesterday I did eat Bambi, or to be more precise carpaccio of his big brother Reindeer Rudolph. Well the meat was red, so I presumed his nose was too.
It wasn’t all that different from normal carpaccio but it was nice. As it is asparagus season here too I made that my main course.
Going to diner in Helsinki is a bit expensive, but it helps if you have bought the Helsinki card. You get discounts in restaurants and all of the interesting sites and museums together with the public transport are free.
This is good, because I have to say Helsinki is expensive. Even the tiniest museum with almost nothing to see will charge you 4 euros to get in. So if you visit get that card and save tons of money.
Well on the topic, why it’s useless to build forts, especially if you’re the king of Sweden. Today I visited Suomenlinna, Sveaborg as it was it’s original name when the Swedes where still ruler of Finland.
Sweden had a long history of war with Russia in the 17th and 18th century. As things started to go wrong for the Swedes in the late 18th century they decided to built a sea fortress in the harbor of Helsinki.
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Just before 1800 they more or less finished it, with a lot of help of the French, who donated most of the cash. The commander of the fortress also built a fleet (a good investment, in contrast to the fort, as history showed). The Russians then sent a fleet of ships to attack Sweden and the fort, but lost a massive sea battle and quickly signed a peace treaty. But a few years later, the eighteen hundreds had just started; they thought it a good idea again and attacked the fort in mid winter. The sea was frozen and they had the more modern weapons and after a very short siege the Swedish garrison commander gave up the fort, in 1809, and the whole of Finland became a sovereign province of Russia.
So after pumping in several years income of the whole of Sweden it only remained in their hands for a decade.
But we must thank them because it’s a beautiful island and worth a visit.
After I returned I just walked around the centre and looked at the Uspensky cathedral and the cathedral on the Senates square. I didn’t go in. I’m just not that much of a religious buff.
I think tonight I’m gonna have some more of Bambi’s big brother Rudolph, but this time I’m going to try the steak, see who that falls.
Well that’s all for today. Probably more tomorrow.

Posted by erodrigo 18:15 Archived in Finland Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Katu, what?

My first Finnish word

sunny 18 °C
View Finland May 2007 on erodrigo's travel map.

I arrived in Helsinki this afternoon and allready figured out my first Finnish word. Katu. It must mean street because every damn path here is called somethingkatu. I walked around for a few hours and visited a church. But no not just any church. The Fins have strange ways of building them. Well at least this one. They have blown a big hole in the rocks, covered it with a dome and ready. Well it saves on bricks offcourse.
Helsinki_012.jpg
Well I'm off for my first real Finnish meal, I wonder what to expect. Bambi?
More tomorrow.

Posted by erodrigo 19:25 Archived in Finland Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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