October, 2008. Bayan-Olgii, Mongolia. A half dozen of my Peace Corps buddies and I went on a serious roadtrip from Ulaanbaatar to Bayan-Olgii by public bus. The trip took 52 hours, driving on dirt tracks through the steppe in a Russian microbus for periods up to 13-hours without a bathroom break. We went to Bayan-Olgii in order to attend Eagle Fest (more info coming in subsequent posts) in the capital city of Olgii in the far corner of Western Mongolia.Western Mongolia, the region of Bayan-Olgii in particular, has a large Kazakh population.
Right before this photo was taken, some of my Peace Corps friends and I were chatting and playing with a group of local Kazakh children. When I took this photo, my good friend Brian Offenther (RPCV Mongolia ’07-09) was in the middle of a ‘karate battle’ with a local 8-year-old and the boy’s dog. Brian had recently bought an embroidered Kazakh cloak, and he was sporting it during this photo. I like this shot for a number of reasons. I love how the angle of the ‘ninjas’ arms mirror each other perfectly, I love how you can see the dozen or so cracking up as they watch the mock battle royale, and thirdly, it’s just absurd.