Terelj - Campfire songs
Trip Start Aug 02, 2007
62Trip End Oct 05, 2007
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After lunch and a short nap we agreed to go for a nice long leisurely walk that would help keep our muscles from stiffening up after the horse ride. It was obvious just moments after starting out that Muujie's and my definition of leisurely walk were far different. My view was it should be on relatively level ground and at a generally slow pace. Her view was that it should be at a fast pace and involve climbing up and over as many things as possible, including rocks
We had a late dinner that evening back in the restaurant. The governors had been replaced by a horde of Taiwanese people all dressed in green t-shirts that referred to some 2007 conference. They were here at the end of their conference for a night of food and festivities, and that meant traditional Mongolian BBQ, then a song and dance performance around a roaring fire.
When we had started our walk/climb earlier in the afternoon we noticed smoke rising from beside a wooden shed set away from the camp. We went to investigate and saw three men with a completely intact goatskin minus carcass, and a pile of meat and bones lying on a sheet of plywood next to them. They were alternating between stuffing the goatskin with a layer of meat and bones, with placing what looked to be like smooth round medium sized river rocks that were being retrieved from their fire. Two men held the carcass open from the bottom end while the third filled it with layer after layer of meat, bones and hot rocks. The filled goat carcass was then sealed shut by tying off the end with wire. Muujie, having seen enough, led us away as then men then started to singe the hair off the carcass with propane torches
The party moved from the restaurant to the pasture area next to a dirt road away from the camp where a roaring fire was blazing away. There were five performer in native Mongolia dress, two singers, a dancer and two players. While all the performers were good, I was especially impressed with the horse-headed fiddle player. His playing evoked the wide-open steppe, and his throat singing added a strange but earthy quality to his pieces. Before you knew it, they were done. The Taiwanese wanted group photos, including Ho-Ki and I, and then headed off back to their gers for either sleep or private partying. It was still quite early though.
We, on the other hand, stayed around the fire with the ger camp staff. Ho-Ki made his way back to our ger by the light of a small LED flashlight and returned with a ¾ full bottle of Chinggis Vodka. The real party was now on, and we learned the very Mongolian tradition (or at a minimum, this ger camp's tradition) that before you could make a toast to the group you had to sing a song. Not being a karaoke-bar aficionado, I could only remember a few lines of the tune "what do you do with a drunken sailor" so I added a little sailor jig to accompany my rather poor singing ability
The bottle actually made it a number of rounds before it was finished and by that time so was the campfire. The staff were enjoyable to be with, and we certainly seemed to provide a high degree of entertainment value to them. They all wanted pictures taken with us, so we obliged.
It was almost 1 AM, so we headed back to our ger for our last night in paradise. Before going to bed, I paused to look at the wondrous night sky for 10 to 15 minutes, knowing that it would be a long time before I would ever see skies this clear again. I was both elated to be experiencing all this, saddened because it was ending far too soon, and a bit tipsy (27 beers, a 3rd of a bottle of red wine, and 3 or 4 rounds of vodka shots have a tendency to do that to me).
Sleep came very quickly once my head hit the pillow...