The evening before we bought a Mongolian flag and fixed it to the car when we left for the Naadam festivities in town. It must have been the flag and the foreign number plate which did it because the police let us through to a car park close to the stadium. On walking towards the stadium, the first thing we noticed was a loud low male hum. Around the corner we saw a small stadium with circles of men cheering (= humming) their champion in ankle bone shooting. From some 4 m distance a dice (made from animal ankle bone) is flicked with the fingers towards a target of several ankle bones on top of each other. After shooting some bones down they are piled up again and the next person shoots. How the score goes in unclear to us. Great fun to watch. Some are really skilful and can even shoot one bone over at this distance.
The next event was archery. When we arrived the women were shooting. 4 ladies stand next to each other and one by one shoot to a target of wooden blocks standing on top of each other some 50 m away. The aim is to hit the 2 red blocks in the middle. Some 4 judges arm-wave the score back to the judging table. If the arrow hit’s the ground first before the blocks then it is invalid. Later on we saw the men shooting. Their distance was some 10 m more. Not many young people were amongst the archers.
The main event is the wrestling. For this you pay an entrance fee and can watch several wrestling sessions. In the middle of the stadium is a grass field on which several fights take place at the same time. There are no weight classes so mostly the heaviest person wins by throwing his opponent on the ground with both feet off the ground. Judges dance around the fighters and every now and then stop the fight for some reason. After all the fights have finished there is a break after which a new group of fighters enter. Our tickets were just till 14:00 hrs. After that the finals start and most seats have already been reserved. In the area around the stadiums there is the usual tents with food and other annual fare knickknacks.
After the games we walk on to the “Winter Palace”. This 19th century building and temples is being crowded in by 10 story apartment blocks. A pity. It is a very beautiful museum showing the rooms in which the last Bogd Khan (living Buddha and King) lived till 1916. Since he was the head of the Mongolian Buddhists he was also their teacher and for that there were several temple type buildings surrounding his European looking house.