Naadaam is a unique holiday that is only in Mongolia. The whole country is celebrating! Throughout Naadaam, people eat and drink traditional food and watch wrestling, horse racing, archery, and an ankle bone game.

Zola and I left around lunch time. The streets were packed with people wearing traditional clothing, called Deel (pronounced del). We were both very hungry, so food was the first thing on our list.

We looked for a place with shadow sit so we could get out of the hot sun. My first taste of traditional Mongolian food was a dish called Khuushuur, which is flat dough stuffed with beef or lamb and fried. We had beef. It was delicious!

After that, we wandered around the market place looking for handmade goods. On the first day the entire stadium and surrounding areas were packed with people. We saw mainly food vendors, and people selling traditional hats and headdresses.

I tried Airag for the first time. Airag is a drink made from fermented horse milk. The taste reminded me of a combination of yogurt and kombucha.

We came across a master in traditional Mongolia script. Zola had Kerry and I’s names written for us. It is such a beautiful language!

We then looked around some more, and decided to call it a day. We watched horse racing and other events on TV. We tried to find a recap of the opening ceremony. Tickets were impossible to find because everyone wanted to hear the new president speak. Every other channel played some kind of traditional music. As we flipped through the channels Zola taught me about Mongolian music and culture.

The next day, Zola and I went back to to partake in Naadaam festivities. I was able to go in to the stadium for a few minutes to take pictures of the wrestling.

Mongolian wrestling is quite the sight to see. A wrestler looses when his knee or elbow touches the ground. 

We had horse meat for lunch. It was very good. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It was tender and had a very pleasant taste. All meat in Mongolia is free range and organic.

As we walked around we found where the archery competition is held. Both men and women compete. What they wear for archery is absolutely beautiful. We watched the women for awhile. They are very talented. Mongolia has a long history of strong women.

The ankle bone game is the fourth event of Naadaam. Men flick an ankle bone from a sheep at a target trying to knock things down. I was able to see a little of this game. Everyone was cheering.

We saw much more of the market today, than we saw the first day. There weren’t as many people so it was easier to find our way around. Part of our mission for the Great Steppe Fiber Project is to support people in their traditional craft. We met some Kazahk women who had a variety of items such as purses and wallets that were hand embroidered.

We came across some very talented street performers. Here is a traditional tune. 

After another round of Khuushuur (this time lamb) and some shopping, we left the market to get ready to go to the summer house. 

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