Mongolia / by Vasiliki Papadopoulos

Blue skies. Vast landscapes. A still preserved nomadic culture. A rich history. Home of the greatest conqueror - Chinggis Khan. Mongolia was all of that, and even more than I expected. I was also able to experience Naadam while there - Mongolia's annual national celebration with wrestling, archery and horse back riding as the main events. I celebrated Naadam not in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, but in a remote part of Western Mongolia - Khovd. These local celebrations were held over a period of 3 days, with a beautiful parade in the city's local stadium. 

My photos capturing Nadaam's horse races were especially interesting. Children between the ages of 6 and 8 are raised and trained to ride horses for long distances at extremely fast speeds. These children then go on to compete in races for Naadam, racing a distance of over 40 km to the finish line in front of a large crowd. The winner of these races goes on to become a local hero in communities, and in some cases helps to financially support their families. I used a camera panning technique to capture the finish line.