EX­PE­RI­ENCE NA ADAM

The fi­nal com­pe­ti­tions take place in Ulaanbaatar dur­ing three days, usu­ally July 11–13. Al­ter­na­tively, many towns across the coun­try hold pre­lim­i­nary tour­na­ments through­out June and July, but dates change at ran­dom. It’s best to ask around if you want to

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it’s of­ten more in­ter­est­ing to at­tend these more raw and ru­ral events than to watch the ac­tiv­i­ties at the Na­tional Sta­dium, where flashy bill­boards abound. The in­fra­struc­ture is more ba­sic out­side of the cap­i­tal, but the spirit of the com­pe­ti­tion is more fer­vent – and there is a chance to see the con­tenders up close. Com­peti­tors will of­ten chat with vis­i­tors and even in­vite them for a meal af­ter­wards. “I pre­fer to at­tend the matches here,” shares a young­ster in Zaa­mar, a cou­ple of hun­dred kilo­me­tres east of the cap­i­tal. “Al­though the stan­dard may be lower, we know the peo­ple and the ex­cite­ment is far greater.”

Those who are not in­ter­ested in sports will also en­joy Naadam. Many cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties are held across Ulaanbaatar dur­ing this time, and there is an op­por­tu­nity to jos­tle with the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion from all cor­ners of the coun­try – kit­ted out in their best tra­di­tional cos­tumes. Con­certs are of­ten held at Sukhbaatar Square, and fire­works light up the sky close to mid­night. Into the early hours of the morn­ing, par­ties are in full swing, and the city dances away un­til sun­rise. It’s a tes­ti­mony to the fact that Mon­go­lia is also well up to speed with the de­vel­op­ments of the 21st cen­tury: In­side the mod­ern dis­cos and pubs, the tra­di­tional deel tu­nic has been traded in for the latest fash­ion items, and an­cient tunes have faded into techno. How­ever, the vodka flows as it al­ways has – a re­minder that some tra­di­tions never change. ag MIGUEL CANDELA is a pho­tog­ra­pher cur­rently based in Hong Kong, spe­cial­is­ing in so­cial fea­tures across Asia. He won Best New Tal­ent at the 2012 Prix de la Pho­togra­phie (Px3) Paris com­pe­ti­tion.

WHEN WHERE

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