What is a yurt?
The yurt is the traditional tent used by shepherds in West and Central Asia. Not only in Mongolia, but also in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, people live in yurts. The yurt consists of a wooden frame. It’s always round and looks a bit like a little big top. The wooden frame is covered with fabric, which can be cotton, but also felt. You can pack the yurt very small and assemble and dismantle it quickly. It then fits on two camels or in a car, depending on the situation. It takes about one to two hours to set up a yurt and it is even quicker to dismantle.
The nomadic life
The nomad family then sets off with all of their cattle and possessions to search for the next pasture. It’s not that easy for children because they don’t have a home anywhere and they can’t go to school. It’s also hard to make new friends. That is why the teachers sometimes come to the yurt to teach the nomad children there. Imagine your teachers coming to your home. For the nomad children in Mongolia, it is definitely a chance for a little education.
Life with horses
Nowhere in the world are there as many horses per inhabitant as in Mongolia. Nomads rarely walk, they ride their horses. Even small children learn to ride, sometimes before they can walk. The Mongols are very good riders. In the spring the foals are caught and the mares milked. This is the only way for the Mongols to get their mare’s milk. It is also said that the horses were tamed in Mongolia for the first time. By the way, it is easier to milk a mare than a sheep. The first mare milking is a religious festival for some Mongolian peoples.
What is Shagai?
A very popular game among Mongolian children is called Shagai. It’s something like “dicing bones”. Indeed, the traditional Shagai game uses bones from the sheep’s heel joint.
If you roll the bone, it remains on one of its four sides. If the bone falls upwards, it is called “horse”, the round back means “sheep” and the hole side means “goat”. The fourth page is “camel”. This game can be played in many different ways, such as a race, being thrown out, etc.
One country, two worlds
According to simplyyellowpages, Mongolia is a very different country. In the city people live modern, with the Internet, cell phones and the latest telecommunications. Construction site follows construction site, cars clog the streets and young Mongolians differ little in their clothing from modern youth in other countries.
But in the steppes and deserts, the land of the nomads, people live in the simplest of conditions, often have no toilets and live from hand to mouth.
Mongolia is a country in which modernity and tradition face each other. But what is better? Sure, being very poor and not having enough to eat is bad. But is life in the big city always more liveable? The Mongols have always led the free life in the steppe, it is their tradition and there are certainly Mongols who would always prefer such a life to life in a big city. Therefore we should refrain from passing judgment on this form of living.
The capital Ulan Bator
Mongolia is a poor and at the same time a very rich country. How can that be? While many people are poor and have to see how they and their families survive, the natural resource discoveries have made some people very rich. But only a few. Many people are now saying that Mongolia is a rich country.
You can see these differences especially in the capital Ulan Bator (Ulaanbataar). Here wealthy Mongolians drive through the city in fat cars. By the way, 60 out of 100 cars in Mongolia are SUVs. This is understandable if you take a closer look at the streets.
There is a lot of construction going on in the capital, because many people are drawn to the capital, poor and rich. The poor live in their own neighborhoods, in corrugated iron huts or even on the street. Many people still live in their traditional tents in the suburbs of the city. They are looking for work to find a better life, but unfortunately that is often an illusion. Mostly they cook with wood and coal stoves, which again increases air pollution. In addition, wealth grows.
All of these exist side by side in Mongolia. The children of the rich people attend good schools, because there are also these, the other children at least learn to read and write. But normal, average people also live in Mongolia; they are not rich, but neither are they poor, they have a job and the children go to school, play on the streets or in the city’s playgrounds and are interested in everything that is for them German children are also interested.