Monday, July 10, 2006

horses and grassland

Robina and I joined a CCC tour to Inner Mongolia last weekend. We visited the No Ri Bu herdsman family near, Xilinhot. On the Xilingol grassland, we had a taste of nomadic mongolian life that is centred around their livestock, horses, the grassland and their culture. We stayed in a yurt overnight. I found it quite comfortable and the yurt even managed to keep out the heavy rain that night. the ladies found it slightly inconvenient since there was no proper toilets, only a latrine.
we walked all over the grassland and did a lot of horse riding. Robina and I were aching all over even after returning to Beijing. the programme was free and easy, we did not have to rush anywhere. the mongolian herdsman were very hardworking and cheerful. as gawking tourists, we must be getting in their way and scattering all their sheep and cows (bloody nuisance!).
the wide expanse of the grassland was a refreshing change from the congested Beijing. I saw plenty of birds like kestrels, sky larks, plovers and harriers. our Austrian friend spotted a fox during his morning walk. there were plenty of insects esp dung beetles since there cow, sheep and horse dung everywhere. Inside the yurt, if u lift the wall hangings u can see hordes of dung beetle trying to crawl inside. the ang mohs were quite perturbed by the insects. We discovered that there was even a stowaway dung beetle in our bag when we returned to Beijing.

in the evening, we had a camp fire and the extended herdsmen family took turns to sing, dance and play the horse-head fiddle for us. they are a shy people and seemed slightly embarrassed by our incessant questions. but they were very hepful towards Robina and helped her to choose a very obedient horse. our guide told us that the herdsmen would become more relaxed after they drink or if they were with friends and family.

we witness the mongolian style of slaughtering a sheep. unlike the muslim method of slitting the animal's throat. at first I thot the mongolian method appeared inhumane but it was surprisingly efficient when I saw the uncle did it. the sheep was dead in seconds after its heart and vena cava was crushed. there was no blood splattering and every part of the sheep was utilised.

photos are posted here!


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