Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Hollywood comes to Ulaanbaatar

Today as I paid a visit to the Gandan Buddhist monastery in Ulaanbaatar I saw a crowd heading towards the main prayer temple. Being ever curious I followed. Drawing the throng a leading Buddhist monk from Tibet was giving prayers. I sat and began my first Buddhist experience. The congregation, if that's the correct term, were almost exclusively monks. I did notice another grey haired non-Asian. As I looked more closely I thought I recognised him, but that surely wasn't possible. His face did seem incredibly familiar though. I tried to move in closer. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that sitting near me in a Buddhist temple in the middle of Outer Mongolia was none other than Richard Gere.

Now I can candidly state that he really is as good looking in real life as he is in the movies. Be it American Gigolo, Pretty Woman, Mothman or playing Billy the Kid he is one cool bloke. He also seemed to have his feet on the ground. I suspect he enjoyed being here, I don't think that (m)any others knew who he was. I did though and was embarrassingly as excited as a Massai tribesman seeing his first snowfall.

I did some digging and it appears that Mr Gere, a long time Buddhist, was in Ulaanbaatar to both hear the esteemed Tibetan monk give prayer but also to attend an international Buddhist conference that was taking place in the monastery. I have had some interesting moments during my time in Mongolia but this was surely the most astonishing. I really do hope that when I am 61 I look as darned handsome as he does, perhaps I need to find Buddha...

Mongolian of the day:- goodbye :: bayartai
(more about the monastery itself another time)