Photograph of Judy, representing the Response section of the Peace Corps in Mongolia!
Judy Gates, RPCV 2008-2012 Mongolia
Peace Corps Business Volunteer
Check out her blog, for when she was in Mongolia at:
Wow! Three years. It seems like a lifetime ago. Here is Amber’s blog post about my visit, when we traveled through the Gobi Desert.
Traveling through the Gobi Desert
At the very beginning of July, my mother came to visit me from America. For the first couple of days, we were in Ulaanbaatar. She was able to meet some of my friends and the Peace Corps staff. We also went to some Mongolian museums and restaurants.
Then, we traveled through the Gobi Desert for five days. We organized a driver and English-speaking tour guide through Khongor Guest House. The vehicle we traveled in was a Russian 69, or “Jaren-Eus.” A 69 looks a bit like a Jeep.
Mother, Driver, Tour Guide, and I in front of the Russian 69 Jeep Vehicle
On the first day, we drove into Dundgovi Aimag. We drove for most of the day, and arrived at Baga gazariin chuluu around 7:00 PM. The place was, surprisingly, covered with white trees. We climbed up the small mountain, and looked over the entire valley. The valley was surrounded on all three sides with mountains! So beautiful! The red rock formations were beautiful, too.
During the time when the Chinese destroyed a lot of Buddhist monasteries, this place housed a few monks in hiding. There are many caves within the rock formations. Because of the monks that survived the Chinese raids, this place has a lot of superstitions attached to it. If you come here and do certain things, then good luck will come to you… it’s a lucky place.
Baga gazariin chuluu
The next day we visited the famous Flaming Cliffs! The Flaming Cliffs are famous for being the place that Roy Chapman Andrews found dinosaur eggs in Mongolia. He gave it the nickname “Flaming Cliffs” because of the way the cliffs change color according to the weather conditions. When my mother and I visited, the cliffs were a brownish color, with a hint of red. The wind was very strong that day… it made my hat fly off of my head! A nice Mongolian caught it for me.
Of course, there were vendors in front of the Flaming Cliffs selling goods… trying to overprice the items… Luckily for me, I know a bit about Mongolian pricing towards foreigners. I was able to bargain the price down to a “Mongolian’s” price because I know the language and I live here. My mother and I bought a few nice rock crystals that were found in the surrounding sand areas.
The Flaming Cliffs
One of the neatest things I saw in the Gobi Desert was the wells… in the middle of nowhere! You’d wonder how camel herds survive in the Gobi Desert, right? The Mongolian government and some private companies built wells in the desert. The herder must physically scoop the water from the well into the trough for the animals to drink from it. This was really neat to see.
Camels drinking from the desert well
On the third day, my mother and I visited the Yolin Am glacier… in the Gobi Desert! It was deep within the a valley, so it took about 45 minutes to walk to the glacier. As we were entering the valley, four shamans were exiting the valley. They were dressed in colorful robes and headdresses. They had traveled from Hovsgul Aimag to the Gobi in order to pray for rain for the entire country. And whataa-you-know? The next day it rained! How’s that for superstitions?
Yolin Am Glacier
The fourth day, my mother and I traveled to the Khongor sand dune. We rode camels for about one hour, and got to sit in the sand for a while. We ate a meal of buuz before traveling to Ovorkhangai Aimag to spend the night.
Riding camels at the Khongor Sand Dune
After the Gobi tour, my mother and I traveled to Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of Mongolia, then back to Arvaikheer for Naadam. In Kharkhorin, we stayed at my director’s ger camp by the river. My director and her husband drove us around the city to show us all of the touristy things, like the Turtle Rock, Erdene Zuu Monastery, and the Empire Monument.
Naadam was very fun in Arvaikheer! It’s so funny because for the entire year, the Naadam stadium is closed. It’s an outside stadium with a nice park around it. But the park and stadium are closed all year, except for Naadam. The grass was very green and beautiful. I could tell it had been watered in the days leading up to the opening ceremony. My mom was able to see traditional Mongolian dancing and music during the opening ceremony. Also, we saw the three traditional sports… horse racing, archery, and wrestling.
Sadly, my mother had to leave Mongolia… but I really enjoyed her visit! Hopefully other people are interested in visiting me over the next year… or two years. I’m thinking about applying to extend a third year, but we’ll see when the time comes.
After a very sucessfull stint at a Peace Corps Volunteer, a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader and a Kiva Volunteer, Miss Amber is due back home today! What a wonderful journey for Miss Amber.
Love her mom!
Hubby received a gift from our daughter for him to pick out a person to give a micro loan to. He picked Ariunzaya in Darkhan, Mongolia.
Mrs. Ariunzaya is 32 years old and she lives with her husband and 2 children in Darkhan, the second largest city of Mongolia. They live in their own flat in the center of Darkhan.
Mrs. Ariunzaya is a teacher of Mathematics in the local secondary school. Her son attends a secondary school and her daughter goes to the local kindergarten. Her husband runs a taxi business, using his family car, carrying passengers between Darkhan and the capital city, which is 220 kilometers away. On average, he makes one trip per day to the capital city, occasionally two. Mrs. Ariunzaya’s father is a former taxi driver and he is unemployed at the moment. Mrs. Ariunzaya wants to buy an another car to use for the taxi business as well. Her father will act as a taxi driver to earn some extra income for the family. Mrs. Ariunzaya is going to use her family’s savings, but needs some money on top of it to buy a car with lower mileage.
The loan that Mrs. Ariunzaya is taking will be used to buy the second hand car and to use it for taxi business employing her father and to increase her family’s income.
The China Study Explained – http://180degreehealth.blogspot.com/2009/11/china-study-explained.html
The China Study is considered to be one of the best and most thorough epidemiological studies on human health ever conducted. The New York Times, in typical absurdly idiotic fashion (like when they told us all about the WMD’s to help create a national panic that led to ‘Iraqi Freedom’), calls The China Study “the Grand-Prix” of nutrition/health studies. It was thorough no doubt. Way to go T. Colin Campbell! You’ve even managed to convince Michael Pollan that every man, woman, and child the world over should “eat mostly plants.” …..
But should this study make us nervous? Will protein really make us more likely to get heart disease or develop liver cancer? If you’re a Chinese person, evidently it will. I actually believe that may be true – that the edition of animal protein to a Chinese diet will increase health risks. Here are my explanations.
First, let me at least point out that if China’s Northerly neighbors in Mongolia, a fitter, stronger, and more robust group of people were taken into account – every single one of those correlations would have been demolished. The rural peoples of Mongolia eat a diet of almost exclusively animals from plump, juicy mutton and whole sheep’s milk. They are a fabulously healthy race in comparison to the west, and in many regards compared to the Chinese as well. They certainly tend to have better physical and dental structure and greater physical prowess in general.
I bring this up, because right off the bat we know that the study is flawed, and that the assertion that animal protein causes degenerative disease can be flung out the window – perhaps even waterboarded before it’s flung.
Amber had given me a $25 gift certificate for a Kiva loan, for Mother’s Day. I selected a loan from someone in Mongolia, and actually one of the areas that we visited during my visit to Amber, over 2 years ago. I’m interested to see how this works out! Here is the specific link to Buyanravjih. http://www.kiva.org/lend/304675
Uvurhangai, Mongolia Food | Grocery Store
This loan has been fully funded!
A loan of $2,850 helped Buyanravjih to purchase more grocery products.
26 months (more info)
May 25, 2011
Jun 4, 2011
Currency Exchange Loss:
Buyanravjih is a 63-year-old widow who lives in a rented house in the province of Uvurhangai in Mongolia. All of her children have grown up and live separately. In 2000, Buyanravjih started a grocery trading business at a rented stall in the Zanabazar trading center and has gained much experience, managing to build a strong customer base and expand her operation. She has also developed long-term and transparent relationships with her partners and suppliers.
A hardworking and honest woman who is planning to continue her business in the future, Buyanravjih says, “I want to build savings with the earnings I make.” She is now requesting a 3,500,000 MNT loan to purchase more grocery products to increase her business sales.
This loan is being administered through XacBank, a Mongolian for-profit microfinance institution. XacBank is located in every province of Mongolia, reaching some of the most rural micro business clients. With this Kiva loan, there is an opportunity for the entrepreneur to get a savings account including 9% of the interest if they pay back the loan on time. This is a special savings account that XacBank has specifically prepared for the Kiva loan borrowers to promote savings habits.
About the Country
Avg Annual Income:
Mongolia Tugriks (MNT)
1,233.0000 MNT = 1 USD
107 lenders to this borrower
New content on Amber’s Kiva happenings.
Amber is coming home for the her sister’s wedding. We had to schedule it, so that when she goes back to the Peace Corps, she’ll not have left the country 90 days prior to her last date. Oh, and we’ll be getting a new family member at that time…….a Mongolian Kitty! Grace is looking forward to that.
Here is a new post that concerns Amber’s Kiva activities.
And here are some interesting facts about the K14 group, that Amber is a part of from the Kiva organization….
Take a look at Amber’s new blog post with her adventure in Mongolia, as a 3rd year Peace Corps Volunteer Leader, and KIVA person!