Saturday, September 06, 2008

Mongolian Olympics GAP style

As many of you know I am a bit of a sports fan. I was devastated to be so close, yet so far from the Olympics in Beijing.

So in the spirit of adventure and to keep the pax occupied I devised the scheme of having our own Olympics. The pax and even the guide took to the idea very well. With terrific support from Joy, a Pax from California, we devised a series of events to test our skills.

I am pleased to say that I managed a tally of 3 gold medals for Australia and tied with Mongolia for the tally total.

So the first event was somewhat impromptu with Joy yelling at me and the guide, Muuggie, while we were standing on top of a pile of dirt, that the Mongolians call an ovoo. They have all these things on there like rocks and blue material and they walk around the pile 3 times and throw a stone on as a sort of prayer for safe travel. So Joy yells 'you 2 race down there'. So being stupid we did just that, and the event was called the Ovoo Dash. I came a dismal second as I fell on the way down and managed to collect some grazes for my trouble.

This got us into a creative mood, we made a flag, gold medals and a medal chart to record the victors. Gold medals were whatever creative thing we could come up with and included beer bottle caps, lolly (candy) wrappers, and stones.

The events were the Dune dash...4 of us lined up about 30 metres up a sand dune and raced down. I had somewhat of an advantage because the others had just returned from climbing the dune, so they were tired. Nevertheless, we needed a final to separate me and Joy. This improved impossible with the 2 judges giving different verdicts, so we decided on a joint gold in this case. My first.

The camel race was rigged, with John from Canada being led by the camel man and then coercing him into getting in front before the race, so he won by a long way. At least that is the loser's point of view. He was awarded the medal anyway.

Bone toss was a test of accuracy with throwing a bone from a sheep. We had to get closest to the bush. I am pleased to say that many years of cricket may have helped me win this.

The Cowpat Discus was a quite a challenge. First Joy and I scoured the area looking for a suitable cowpat. As is always the way, there was plenty in other areas we had been in. So in the end we found one, but as it was the only one, we had to put it in a plastic bag to try and keep it together. It didn't really hold together too well, but served the purpose. Muuggie, our Mongolian guide, proved that she has the power in this and threw the cowpat alot further than any of the rest of us.

Ellen from Florida easily took out the horse race, as her only opponent John admitted that he wasn't game to challenge her because it was likely to be her only gold medal, and he didn't want his eyes scratched out.

Next came the stone skipping. There is a great lake called Khorsovol in northern Mongolia, looks alot like an ocean. On the lake edge is oodles of flat stones perfect for stone skipping. We had 5 attempts each and I was a clear winner with my 4th attempt skipping around 10 times! I was awarded a pink stone as a gold medal.

I had to sit out ping pong because we couldn't figure out how to do a draw with 5 people and limited time..there was a queue for the table! Joy from California proved too good for her opponents in this one. The competition was intense, Muuggie from Mongolia looked decidedly depressed after losing her first round.

Camel drawing really bought out the creative side...or not...most of our camels looked like horses, but John took this one. His camel at least looked realistic.

Of course being in Mongolia we had to finish off with wrestling, like in the Naadam Festival. Muuggie proved way too strong for me and Joy (Ellen and John sat this on out). We did Japanese style and Mongolian style, and this is harder than it looks, especially for an unfit tour leader!

Our little escapades kept many of the locals amused as they watched us compete in our events.

It was alot of fun and congratulations to all who participated.


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