The opening ceremony was very exciting -- outside, milling about the endless rows of food and drink stalls (mostly selling khuushuur, the meat-filled empanada looking traditional food that is apparently like the official food to eat at Naadam), were TONS of people, and mostly Mongolian people, so there was this strong air of patriotism and excitement and just overall camaraderie - that is, until we went to our seats. We had seats in the so-called ‘tourist section’ because it’s in the shade (bless whoever made that happen), but it was as unorganized and chaotic as you could ever imagine. People were sitting in the wrong seats, in the aisles and on the bases of pillars and on the barriers to the entrance/exit. And I don’t just mean people. Whatever number you are imagining in your head as composing this crowd, multiply it by 10 at least. We had to literally climb over dozens of people to get into the entrance (like a regular stadium gate-by-gate open entrance, but in a stadium from medieval times)and then do the same through the aisles to get to our seats, where tourists were sitting because they don’t know how to read tickets but who even cares when Mongolian and foreign people are just sitting wherever the hell they want with no regard for safety? And there were plenty of stadium staff, volunteers, and police everywhere, so the people you hoped would get things in order - or at least form a path for when people had to exit - didn’t bat an eyelash at the scene. It was a terrifying thought, but we realized during this ceremony/scene of absolute dire chaos how, you know whenever you hear about a terrible accident in a third world country where hundreds or thousands more people die than seems correct or possible for such a building or type of accident? We realized that if anyone at all went wrong in this stadium, there was no way we or anyone could get out. It was really scary, actually. I couldn’t even leave to pee! I mean I tried eventually and stepped on or over 57 people and the only bathroom was halfway around the entire stadium (cool designing, guys) but I waited for so long. I was not eager to return afterwards because what if there was a fire!
It’s okay! We will dance the demons back to hell!
But then that damn Roman army returned!
And again, dancing will be the answer.
Just when you thought it was over, hundreds of young girls dressed in ice blue costumes came out and danced more.
Then everyone, all ten thousand participants, danced together and everyone was joyous and we figured that was it.
But then this guy came out.
I can’t make up a reason for this guy.
Okay, on to the Three Manly Sports! First of all, let’s forget about the horse-racing. It takes place 30km or so outside the city, so we weren’t going to see it anyway, but more importantly horse-racing is a cruel and inhumane torture method masquerading as a ‘sport’. Second of all, the three sports of men are really, apparently, four sports, because there’s a pavilion for ankle-bone shooting. What the hell is ankle-bone shooting, you ask? How can you not know? It’s when non-athletic men lounge around and flick sheep’s literal ankle-bones at targets. It is a drinking game from a USA state university gone official.
We heard that the champion of wrestling was given a Land Rover, another car, and an APARTMENT. No idea what the archer got.
NO OMG my favorite part was this amazing Mongolian baby! He was so cute! I made Z pretend he was taking a picture of me so we could sneak a pic of the baby. Enjoy!