Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 26: Buddhism and Communism

Good news! Seumas is starting to feel better, and hopefully Rachel will not be far behind.

Today we'd arranged to do a little sightseeing. Our local friend Erdene, came to pick us up at 10. His car hadn't started, so he'd brought a taxi. Taxis are quite cheap in Mongolia, about 35c Australian to the kilometre. So off we went to the Bogd Khan's Winter Palace. The Bogd Khan is well remembered here in Mongolia. Before 1911, he was the spiritual leader of Mongolia, despite being 'imported' from Tibet via the Chinese. But in 1911, there was a revolution against the Qing dynasty in China. The Bogd Khan was installed as emperor of a theocracy, as he was a major player in the rebellion. Mongolians are fiercely independent, and so he is remembered for this.

Anyway, the Winter Palace was not a grand affair, though it was lovely to visit. Much of it now houses various Buddhist artworks (tapestries, statues, etc..) from the period. This was pretty interesting, though Rachel says it's not much compared to Tibet. There was also the main living residence of the Bogd Khan himself, and his wife. Some very fine items there. Including some chairs that played music when one sat on them (a gift from Russia; brings a whole new meaning to 'musical chairs').

After this we went to visit the Zaysan Tolgoy memorial. Here are some pics from someone else's blog because we lost our camera. Erdene helpfully explained the memorial. It is basically a testament to Russia's relationship of friendship with Mongolia. 1921's revolution saw Mongolia appeal to Russia for help in fighting off Chinese and White Russian forces, leading to the establishment of the Mongolian People's Republic. Soviet Russia did a lot for Mongolia, and Mongolians are still very fond of Russia for it (and almost universally dislike the Chinese). The memorial features Lenin prominently. Also from the memorial, one has a spectacular view of the city, laid out in all its apartment and ger glory. UB is pretty big, sprawling ever bigger. Urbanisation is causing some infrastructure and poverty problems that are going to get worse in the future.

Anyway, after these two outings we came home. Erdene stayed for a while and we chatted about how he became a Christian and other things. We've spent the rest of the day recuperating, doing a little grocery shopping, and so on.

1 comment:

  1. Our current Modern History topic is Russia and The Soviet Union from 1917 to 1941. The exam we had yesterday was all about Lenin and the Bolsheviks!