Terelj, Peaceful Oasis an hour from the City.
Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
88Trip End Jul 25, 2011
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The first time we stayed at a place called Eco Gercamp, which is run by a friendly Dutch guy called Bert, who moved to Mongolia 10 years ago and married a Mongolian woman, which must have been quite a scandal, since Mongolians are still pretty strict about only marrying other Mongolians today. Bert decided to build his ger camp off the beaten track, which meant a yak cart or jeep was the only way to reach his secluded valley
Luckily we had met a very cool English/Maltese couple -Paul and Karen- in Khongor the day before, so we set out here together and got to know each other pretty well, since the first day was spent entirely in the ger sheltering from the bitter winds, playing cards and drinking our whole alcohol supply for the 3 days. The next morning, slightly bleary-eyed we all trekked to Terelj village to get more supplies, climbing over log bridges and walking through amazing woodland that made me think of what New England should look like in the fall (one of my mum’s top things to see -check the pics ma!).
We were so nearly at the local shop when across the road a Mongolian guy started shouting at us, "Hello! Hello!". He said it was his birthday and would we like to drink with him and his friends in a local pub. Determined to stay focussed, we said we really had to get to the shop, but he was pretty insistent. Eventually we gave in, eager to take up the chance to meet the locals. Now, of course since the event a mysteriously large part of the Mongolian population have approached us on streets around the country proclaiming it to be their birthday and asking us to buy them drinks, so we can be fairly sure it wasn’t the guy’s birthday, but we still had a brilliant time nonetheless and more or less split the bill at the end
Anyway, we had a brilliant time with Karen and Paul in Terelj. Also from London like us, they had quit their jobs to go travelling and were trying to do it all by land, having left from London on the train and got all the way to Mongolia via the Trans-Siberian express. They wanted to get to South America by carrier ship if they could, which made our trip feel very tame in comparison. It was strange to think there was another couple in London, a couple of miles down the road, doing the same thing as us at the same time: planning their trip around the world, getting excited about visiting new places, getting anxious about leaving their jobs, looking at the same hostel in Ulaanbaatar online.
Our second trip was on our own a few days before we had to leave. We had a whole two weeks in UB, which was too much, so like proper city folk, we took the local bus for the weekend and stayed this time at Buveeit Ger camp, a lovely collection of very warm felt gers not far from Turtle Rock, and decked out with proper sheets and duvets on the small beds! It was easier to get to than Bert’s, but still a good 30 minute walk from the bus stop into a secluded valley. There was hardly anyone staying there as it is now the end of season in Mongolia, and each day we saw the staff taking more of the gers into the barn, ready for next year. It made us feel like it was time to move on soon. The only other guest was a 28-year-old German guy called Matthias, who was travelling for a year after finishing his Biology PhD. He was trying to do as much of his trip via couchsurfing.net as he could, which has inspired us to try the same, maybe in India or around South America
Both times we went horse riding in Terelj. Yes, despite my incident I am still trying to master the great Mongolian art, although I keep a good distance from their chomping mouths and hold the reign pretty tight. We also climbed mountains (still finding this pretty hard, when will fitness improve?!), drank beer in the little pagoda looking out across the valley as the shadows grew longer, ate mutton-based dinners with Matthias in the restaurant ger and played Uno to the light of the glowing fire. It was a nice way to end our time in Mongolia.