Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lotus Arts and Craft Centre Refurbished

The centre that has been Gek’s summer project to refurbish is practically finished. The centre hosted a multi denominational group on International Peace Day. Buddhists lamas, Christians, Jews and Muslims sat down to lunch in the centre. Gek has done amazingly well to refurbish the building in such a short time. The difficulty in working across a language barrier cannot be underestimated. It is the biggest challenge of any project or work done in this kind of environment. It somethings feels like you are riding a charging horse though a fog. Things are happening around you, but you don't know how or why. Situations arrive suddenly, without prior warning. You have to have absolute faith in your horse......he must know where he is going to charging ahead the way he is!!!!!!!! The relief and joy when the job is done successfully is over whelming.

A couple of days later, the centre was doing craft lessons in felt making aided by a new Australian volunteer, Sandra. School lessons end at lunch time with the afternoons given over to extra curricula activities.

The children do fine art and craft, as in this session making felt cards to traditional Mongolian designs.

Sandra’s Birthday

We invited the new VSO to a sushi party in our apartment. As it happened to be Sandra’s birthday…….a good excuse for TWO cakes. With in country training completed, the new VSO started their placement the next day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Aryapala Meditation Retreat Centre – Terelj National Park.

The centre is accessed via a suspension bridge.

Followed by 108 steps.

A struggle even for younger legs. But Gek and me, we are experienced stair climbers, taking 80 steps to regain our apartment every time we leave home.

The centre was established in 2001/2 by the head of the Lamrim Monastery. There is a meditation cave, complete with it’s own well, associated with the location which has reportedly been used for centuries by mediating Lamas.

A cave with the view you might say.

Turtle Rock – Terelj National Park.

It does not look like a natural rock formation but I am assured that it is. Mind you, I guess before too long it will be a headless turtle. Bits of rock are being weathered from the turtle’s neck leading to its inevitable decapitation.

Gek and Audrey Camp in Terelj National Park.

The girls took off for a couple of days ger camping in the Terelj National Park. Audrey, Gek’s niece, had joined us here in UB for a week R and R before starting her new job in Singapore. So with a driver, guide and Russian Jeep all to themselves they did a little exploring of the park.

There is a metalled road through the park, often blocked by animals,

which sometimes need a bit of persuading to get out of the road.

Two to a ger at the San Tourist Camp. In fact, they had the run of the whole camp. No one else being in residence!!! Luxury. An impossibly blue sky.

And with a super view. The time is mid September and the leaves are already turning gold and brown. Soon this will be a snowy scene.

Chinggis Statue de-scaffolded

The lattice of steel has been removed and the crane dismantled. A very impressive sight made even more stunning by his placement in an empty landscape. One thing is for sure, this statue would not fit in many capital city’s main square. The man did not build a tomb or monument for himself to be remembered by. He didn’t need to. He was and still is, even after over 800 years, in a whole nation’s consciousness. There is something very poignant about him facing and gesturing towards the place of his birth in the east and not towards the empire he created in the west. A lovely touch.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lotus Summer Camp - The Setting

(Pictures thanks to the Venturing Asia volunteers from Singapore)
A grand view of the Lotus children’s camp alongside the river in the Terelj National Park. The gers, the children’s homes, are moved from the suburbs of UB to the park at the end of the school year in mid June, not moving back until the school term is about to restart in early September.

Plenty of space for the kids to explore,

Hang out with your mates,

And clown around!!!!

Or practise your show stopping number.

All under the watchful eye of the Terelj herders.

Lotus Summer Camp – The chores

(Pictures thanks to the Venture Asia Volunteers from Singapore)

First thing in the morning, open the roof vent. This is normally achieved by pulling a rope draped conveniently down the side of the ger, but I guess it is much more fun to climb up the roof to do it!!!

Next in line is to bathe in the river to really wake yourself up. Damned cold that water.

Clean out the ger

Get the days supply of water from the river as a gang. Note the little helpers on the ends of the line. Good mechanics and force management this, creating an equal but opposite moment, thus achieving equilibrium. And without attending one of my lectures!!!!! Team work and a natural understanding of the Newton’s Laws. And so young. Magic.

Or by special delivery!! Turn it round boys!
Today was laundry day. Kids who can, in large measure, look after themselves and each other. They have too.

Once the chores are done, chill out on your own mountainside and take in the views.