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Bayan Gobi mini-Naadam

It was pouring when we reached the Bayan Gobi ger camp, and we got drenched just in the short run from the vans to our gers. But the rain didn't last long.

As a trial for the big Naadam event in ten days, a "mini-Naadam" was being held just outside the camp; it got underway in the late afternoon. Between us and a Korean tour group and the locals there was a reasonable crowd.

First we watched the riders - several dozen - circle three times around us, before heading off to the starting line, some ten kilometres away. The jockeys ranged from as young as 6 (possibly younger) up to about 12 years old.

preparing for the race
the riders head off

Then the wrestling started. There were a few pros, who had proper uniforms and looked the part, but a couple of dozen participants all up. (One tourist tried a round but was thrown pretty quickly.) The first to touch the ground with any part of their body other than the feet loses; he passes under the arm of the winner, who does an "eagle" victory dance.

a wrestler
the judge
in action

Next up was the archery, where only one competitor - the camp owner - seemed to be really good. Justin and Patti had a go from our group, and Justin did quite well.

We (or at least some of us) jumped over the little river to watch the riders come in. The half dozen leaders were quite closely bunched and came in within a minute of each other.

a family watches the wrestling
too young to race?
in 5th place

Naadam features the three "manly" sports of horse-racing, wrestling and archery. But women (or girls) participate in both the racing and the archery and, while they don't wrestle, the folk explanation for the skimpy costumes worn by the wrestlers is that they are to stop women entering secretly - they were introduced after a woman did that and beat everyone!
Peter and Eve and I went for a walk through some sand dunes north and east of the camp.

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