Sunday, 19 August 2012

Life in Mongolia sure ain't Kansas,

So we arrived in Mongolia OK and our bags came a few days later, good job we always pack enough stuff in hand luggage for it to be OK. We met the staff, settled into the flat, and began all the 'stuff' that needs done when you move to a new country; fill in the forms, buy the kit, work out how best to get about the place and start sampling the local brews.

After a week of that it was time to leave the city. Ulaanbaartar is a vibrant and culturally rich city but with seemingly no traffic laws and the worst roads I have ever seen. The roads here make the roads in Nairobi look and feel like a newly laid motorway. A really cold winter followed by the wettest summer anyone can remember has quite simply washed the roads away in many places. So when offered the chance to go to a ger camp for the weekend we jumped at the chance.

So after a slow and bumpy 1.5hrs in the school bus we stopped for a photo opportunity with a Khazak, his eagles, vultures and a peregrine sitting on a stuffed wolf.
Mei holds her first eagle

while Jess goes for something bigger

Some time later we arrived at the camp and went to load our bags in our own private ger. The ger was surprisingly spacious and comfortable.

After a spot of lunch we set off for Turtle Rock and a bit of a horse ride, those ponies were tough little feckers but while some were led others just followed, it was a strange experience in that they are trained very differently. They are neck trained rather than bit trained for steering but legs are simply used to grip, kicking is entirely redundant, instead a shout of Choi! (or something similar) is used to make them speed up but as it is a call if anyone in the group shouts loudly all the horses pick up the pace. There were several first time riders in the group and some did better than others at staying on the rather unpredictable beasts.

The ride took us up to Buddhist monastery where a lovely walk up some steps was punctuated by buddhist teachings.

'An ordinary person teaching another echoes like a comedy'
The view back down the valley was truly spectacular!

Once back at turtle rock some of us opted to walk back to the ger camp via a derelict dinosaur park.
Come on Dino this way, 
Leave Dino Leave!

The night spent in the ger was pleasant and surprisingly warm . The fire was lit for us in the evening but having stayed up a bit after the expected bed time it needed to be lit again. the wood provided burns fat and clean but even with the stove fully loaded the heat was gone inside an hour. At 6am the door to the ger opened and in came some one to light the fire again, but neither of us actually managed to get out of bed to throw more wood on so while it was lit it soon went out, giving us a bit of a chilly awakening. 
The next day was a much nicer day and after breakfast Sarah and I set out for a trail run up a path behind the ger camp, sadly the path disappeared in a beautiful little valley. We could see people from our group on the ridge above and set about finding a way up there, by the time we had reached what we thought was the ride they had gone and we were somewhat disoriented. We knew where the ger camp was but not how to get there, again there were no trails. So we kind of bushwhacked / scrambled around rocks until we found our way back to a trail we recognised. It had taken an our and a half to cover 3km but it had been absolutely stunning.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Lovely where you went to camp and the ger looked quite comfy. I was surprised that you talked about it being cold as it's still quite hot and humid here. Wouldn't mind a bit of coolness. Hope your school is as interesting and inspiring as the countryside.
    Take care and don't break a leg.