Quickly I grabbed a digital camera and got on the school bus after rushing to the school. First port of call was Suhkbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar and, not having explored that far across town, got out the camera. Unfortunately the camera appeared to have a glitch, the screen on the back showing a fuzzy "solarised" image reminding me of a poorly adjusted TV. Tapping it did nothing to improve the situation so I put it away and started to just look around, taking in the views and atmosphere.
The bus then headed out to the east up over a pass at 1545m before heading down past an ethnic Kazak town where eagles, buzzards and vultures were aplenty, circling around in the sky. I was able to see these and appreciate them without trying (as others were), to get the perfect photo. The same applied as we stopped at the site where dromedary camels were sited near the road, and then again at the polished Chinggis Khan stainless steel statue and museum further along the road.
Cameras are fine, but what do they show? An image of an object. Why do people feel the need to take their own images? What happens to the images once taken? I will get images of the trip from others and select the ones I feel represent the things seen - raptors, two-humped camels, rolling plains and mountains, yak, horses, pleasant river with willow groves and an impressive statue. With hands freed, I was able to collect a discarded eagle feather and from the river a lump of patterned crimson rock. The pictures will not convey the horror of the school bus leaning over by a ravine as the driver attempted to go down a steep rough track to the river and get the rear tyres next to the drop stuck in the soft sand. Nor will the pictures record the jolts of the rough roads, the chill down the spine of the cries of the kites overhead not the joy of watching one grab a piece of chicken mid-air that had been thrown upwards. The camera fails when it come to recording feelings first hand. Others who see images are always going to be detached from the original situation ever if the picture is powerful. The people taking the pictures are also putting a filter between themselves and the world they are trying to show. By focussing on a small view perhaps are missing the whole experience.
By the way, on returning to the hotel, my camera started working again.