For Mongolians, the most wonderful time of the year is NOT Christmas, it's actually Tsagaan Sar - Mongolian New Year. It's the time when you...well, you're going to find out more in the coming week, but you can read what I wrote about it last year to tide you over, if you like. What you need to know for now is that there are wrestling tournaments as part of the celebration, and on a whim, Engrish and I decided we needed to go today. We planned to meet at the Wrestling Palace after I finished church, and since I got there a few minutes before she did, I went ahead and bought the tickets. This was a bit of a maneuver, because when I went to the KACC office on the side of the building, where tickets are sold, the guy didn't understand me, and sent me to the entrance, where they promptly sent me back to the side. Eventually I got things sorted out, and ended up with one of the security guys, who was so eager to show me where to sit that he almost missed the fact that I had two tickets and was waiting for minii nites (my friend).log contest entry: "Beautiful strong men in tiny underpants...need I say more? (See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/746/n-is-for-nomads) Apparently it's something men are more into ogli....er, spectating...than women, but that's never been something to stop me. Of course, I don't think we really realized what a treat we were in for. I should have - I've recently been fighting with one of my seventh grade girls about changing in the hallway, because she doesn't see anything wrong with changing her clothes in front of God and the whole world. Well, neither did the wrestlers. There were strapping young lads in nearly every stage of undress scattered around the palace, and it did my poor, very single heart a WORLD of good!
I have to admit that I haven't seen much wrestling in my life. As a band geek, I played at football games and basketball games, but we didn't go to wrestling meets, so the sum of my experience with wrestling comes down to when I couldn't get Shaggy to change the channel as a child and had to watch Hulk Hogan duke it out with Randy Roddy Piper. This was NOTHING like that (obviously).
For starters, while Mongolian wrestlers have muscles and then some (the shoulders and the legs on these guys! I swear!), but quite a lot of them had a lot of fat on them, too. And they weren't paired up according to size - there were very big wrestlers in matches against much more wiry guys. Engrish and I both wondered how the matches were decided.
Well, we made it to nearly 5 o'clock before Engrish asked if I'd gotten enough photos and 5,000 tugrugs worth of entertainment. I'd just been thinking to myself that it seemed like the matches were going to go on ALL NIGHT, and since I hadn't had lunch, I was ready to go try my student's restaurant, Korea House (conveniently located behind the wrestling palace). But I wouldn't hesitate to go again.