what did one buuz say to the other buuz?
two wacky weeks
week one. tsaagan sar festivities continues – buuz, vodka, buuz, buuz, vodka, and vodka. and buuz. the eating and drinking was everywhere, and it was a mission to get any filming done. we went to a pretty cool concert – digital and ice top (no, not an ice-cream) put on a great show to another seated crowd. weird. then early wednesday morning, me, fi, nacho and yoda (translate i will) piled into a russian van called an uaz frugan – imagine a combi van on steriods – and missioned out of town. we were heading for ondorhaan, the capital of khentii. we had heard about a guy there called arslan who was mixing traditional music with hip hop. after a few hours of trying to get out of the city, then overheating at the 6km mark, we finally shrugged off the bad karma and got a few miles under the belt.
we passsed thru the country for hours and eventually arrived at ondorhaan, the state capital round 5pm. an hour later, arslan met us and invited us back to his house for dinner. up a dark derelict stairwell in a soviet apartment block, we entered a beautiful, cozy apartment, with carpets hanging on the wall, and chinggis khan looking down over us. as it was the middle of tsaagan sar, we were fed copious amounts of vodka and buuz. we ate and drunk into the evening, and chatted about music in mongolia, music in this small country town and post soviet changes. arslan plays the morin khur in the local orchestra, which is one of the best in the country, and he played us some amazing music, with his wife, two kids, mother, and best mate, along with me nacho, fiona, and yoda and two cameras all in the room together – was amazing. he told us he’d try to get his band together the next day which was him rapping and on morin khur, an mc, a singer and humi (throat singing) guy, and two beatboxers. although we planned to leave first thing in the morning, we figured it was well worth hanging around for a chance to see this.
the next day, we met arslan, and got led into a small radio station where we had an impromptu interview on the largest radio station serving eastern mongolia and, when asked about what we thought of mongolia, nacho told the country he loved buuz! then we met the rest of the band, and they took us down to the chinggis monument and sang a few tracks for us. was great to hear some live music with hip hop and some humi in there. there is an incredible musical wealth of traditional music that hip hop artist could really draw on over here to make an incredibly unique sound. unfortunately, theres not much of it happening at the moment, but its starting to happen, and i reckon it’ll only get more established.
back in reality – we left ondorhaan round 5pm for the 7 hours of driving home. we did a bunch of filming on the way out of town then convinced yoda to let us drive for a few km’s. we all had turns of sitting up the front feeling like kings driving the beast of a van thru the fading light of the rolling landscape. and then the steam started……….we pulled over and let the car cool down then took off, but another 50m and it was just as bad. we thought something worse had happened and sure enough, when we peered into the engine, we noticed that the fanbelt was a belt no more. scrounging around, yoda found a spare and he and someone who had stopped to help us whacked it on – as in with a 5ft metal pole! during the process, the interior lights started flickering on and off, and then off and not on. when all was done and the fanbelt was back on, and we were set to go, and it was all smiles, an innocent turn of the ignition relvealed that we had lost all electrics. now, these cars are pretty basic. there not much that need electrity. yet, 3 hours later, after 4 cars had stopped to help us, and one had chased a passing uaz (same vehicle as ours) for a few k’s down the road and an entire family of around 16 had piled out of the car, relieved themselves on the side of the road, and wandered over to check out the problem, we still were sitting in the middle of nowhere in mongolia! giving up (around 11pm and minus 20 degrees) we hooked up our uaz to the other one, and they towed us back to the last town – 5km and 30 minutes away – we gladly gave them the 15L of petrol they asked for as payment.
the cafe had a room with three beds, and they threw a matterss on the floor for us. next morning we woke to yoda lighting a fire underneath the uaz to warm the sump….scary image when you see how old these beasts of vehicles are. but to his credit, a fire, and 4 hours of tampering with the engine and wires and otherbits with two guys who were wandering along the steppe and happened to be uaz experts and not up to anything in particular that sunny morning, and we were running again! so we hit the road (and its a good thing as we’re meant to be hosting a party at our place that night, and nacho is booked on the first flight saturday morning!) pick up a family who are hitching to ulaanbaatar to vist a sick relative, and at 6.45pm (exactly) we arrive at our house and run about like mad trying to make the place descent and stocking up on vodka. had a great party and nacho excaped under fiona’s and my hangovers without even saying goodbye! cheap spanish labour!!! nah, huge thanks to you nacho for the 21 days you were here man! really really appreciate your time, opinions, energy and passion mate, and loved hanging out with you in this meat loving country! look forward to working with you on the island!!
so, with nacho gone, wekk two started, and it wsa up to me, fiona and yoda to finish researching the doco. we had a huge post tsaagan sar week planned, when out of nowhere, fiona got sick and didnt see much more than her bed and the toilet for a few days. luckily, she had met a young doctor who was doing some field work out here, so he came over to check her out and pretty soon sent her off to hospital. she hadnt been retaining any fluids, and on the way to the taxi was in and out of consciousness which was a bit scary. we got to the hospital and they got a drip in her and 3 hours later, she looked a million dollars better. they decided to keep her in overnight, and then another night, and friday morning at 7.30 she rushed into my room and woke me with…..LETS GO FOR BREAKFAST!!!!! now, mongolia is a pretty progressive little place. they have internet, coke, and you can even get some nice burritos at a few cafes. however, a western breakfast at 7.30 on a friday morning is not as easy to locate. as she hadnt eaten for 104 hours, i felt like i should at least try to find something that wasnt grey meat and salty tea, but it wasnt till 10am that we had brekkie – 108 hours after her last meal!!!
now its a new week, and fiona is here still (shes gettign better, but still not up for travel and feeling a bit queezy still, so had her flight changed) she leaves on the 13th of march, and i;m out of here on the 16th (tho can push it back…..again!!) we are getting organised for the last of the filming. translations are under way, its been snowing and i now a beautiful sunny freezing day. going to be manic until we are out of here.
this is huge. if you made it to here, kudos to you. more soon!