While we were here in Ulaan Baatar, we learned from the Redgirls of the passing of one of the blogosphere's favorite vizslas, Radio. Radio died from the complications associated with myositis, a degenerative muscle disorder -- which, sadly, appears to be becoming more common in vizslas. As your parents said, Rocket, we hope you're causing havoc somewhere fun.
We had said we would say prayers for him at the major Buddhist temple in Ulaan Baatar, the Gandantegchinleng Khiid, or Gandan for short, because we both remembered a beautiful dog statue in one of the alcoves in the main temple. I can only imagine that Radio's playful vizsla spirit was playing havoc with our memories because while we did say prayers at Gandan, we never found the statue!
By a process of deduction we realised we must have seen the statue at the Choijin Lama Museum. The short version of the story is that we found the statue -- the longer version is that we discovered that in the past three years they have put up a lot more labels. The 'dog' is in fact a 'wolf'! We hope that this final piece of mischievousness was also a sign of Radio's spirit playing tricks.
The Choijin Lama Museum is a treat for many reasons -- the incredible richness of the artistry in the painting, woodwork, and ceramics. It is also a shame that it seems on the verge of dilapidation, that little or no restoration work has been done perhaps ever, let alone in the three years since we were last there. The temple is relatively modern and so it would be a shame to see the city swallow it whole. This picture shows the walkway up to the main temple hall with the looming frame of another new, futuristic building behind it.
One of the positive signs was that it seems to be a place of interest to young Mongolians, and especially the new generation of monks. While Gandan was virtually untouched by the Communist government and left as a figurehead of socialist tolerance (despite the purges of some 30,000 intellectuals, government officials and monks by Choibalsan), Choijin was converted into a museum. We felt lucky to witness the excitement of this group of young monks as they did their own whistle-stop tour of the temple complex.
We were also very pleased to see that in order to protect the public health, the city of Ulaan Baatar has apparently outlawed trumpet playing. Hallelujah. Imminently sensible.
This is our final day in Mongolia. We fly out tomorrow in the early morning, back through Moscow, and then to New York after what is supposed to be just a short two-hour layover. With all the time changes, we actually get in only six hours after we left Mongolia.
With work schedules and training schedules, I will go pick up our two boys the following week -- but will speak to Bob well before then. In the meantime, love the vizslas you're with.