So I went looking for a tree today. This isn't a normal activity for me - I am not some kind of hippie environmentalist who gets attached to specific trees, but a friend of mine took this amazing picture of a tree that had been covered with scarves, and I decided I needed my very own picture of it (note: my picture is not as good as his, but there was snow on the ground and I wasn't wasting time trying to get the perfect shot while my ass was freezing!)
Getting there wasn't too hard - while my hike was a fairly long one, it wasn't too steep at any point, and it was a picturesque, if particularly cold day. I wasn't really planning on hiking, but it was really sunny and I figured once I got going, I'd keep fairly warm, and it was true. I'd better enjoy the outdoors as long as I can - cabin fever is definitely in the forecast!
Other than the scarves, the day itself had a lot of color - the needles on the trees have turned golden. The trees are coniferous, but they aren't evergreen, which seems really weird to me. At any rate, they made an amazing contrast to the blue sky, and I had to restrain myself from taking a photo every five steps (I say I had to because my battery was running low and I was hoping the archers would be practicing this weekend so I could take pictures. I finally made it down to the stadium were they had been the last several weeks, but alas! they were nowhere to be seen )-:
The silk scarves are called khadags, and are part of the Buddhist/Shamanistic tradition. From what I understand, they can be a token of respect or reverence; you give them to people you respect when you greet them, as well as in other ceremonies. I brought my own scarf to tie on the tree - the red one above. The blue ones are most common here (remember how I keep mentioning the sky???) but I bought a set of five at Naraan Tuul and decided the red one best represented my hopes of staying warm on my hike.