Putting Kazakh Hospitality to the Test
Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
195Trip End Feb 28, 2013
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Where I stayed
Eagle Hunter's Ger
What I did
Northern and Western Mongolia Tour Day 22 of 32
Khurgan Lake, Stop at Khurgan Stelae (Babals) then on to Eagle Hunter's Ger near Tsengel - 76 KM
All good things come to an end. We felt we had been part of the family for a little bit. We gathered our things while the family attended to the morning chores that needed to be done. It was time to go. The family waved us goodbye as we drove off under clear blue skies.
From there, we took a different loop south toward Dayan Lake then west toward Tsenjel village where the Eagle Hunter lives. Sereg let his friend take the lead and we followed them in our identical grey little van for a while. The road on this route was markedly better. The blue sky and snow tipped mountains made it a super scenic ride.
Mid morning we reached another archeological site near a lake. Kurgan Stelae or Balbals (supposedly from a Turkic word balbal meaning "ancestor" or "grandfather" or the Mongolic word "barimal" which means "handmade statue") are anthropomorphic images cut from stone around kurgan cemeteries or in a double line extending from a kurgan. Spanning more than three millennia, they are clearly the product of various cultures.
The obvious difference between these and the deer-stones we saw in near Moron is the absence of etchings of deer figures. These granite balbals are clearly meant to represent the specific people they honor. The main three stones are among flat slate-like stone that are also stood on end. And there are the rock mounds that are said to be ancient burial markers or ceremonial grounds. The first one we stopped at was a simply carved stone. A little further, we found three more modern statues lined up with rows of other stones and burial site markers. We explored the area and snapped the obligatory pictures before saying goodbye to the other tour group.
We parked at Dayan Lake for lunch. Uemaa went all out. She made a delicious soup and separate rice for Kimche (Pancho) and 3 pickled carrot and rice hand-rolls. Pretty creative. She is really trying. Pancho didn’t look at it that way and couldn’t put on a pleasant face. The only time we see a smile from him anymore, is when he poses for pictures. When the camera disappears, the happy face disappears. He is really getting on our nerves. As usual, Kimchee took a walk only spending enough time with us to stuff his face before walking off again.
At 5:30, we approached Tsengel village. Sereg left the tracks and crossed the broad expansive steppe. The family had moved to their autumn position since we had seen them two days prior. In fact, they set up the ger in the new location just today! The new spot was 7 km from Tsenjel at the foot of a mountain and near a river.
The table was set with the usual cheeses and butter. Another daughter had made all the exquisite embroidered wall hanging in the ger. Such fine work Michelle had only seen in antique wall hangings in the museum. It is amazing that she has time for that in between all the other chores.
The father and the other family members sat around the ger watching the bread being fried. We took in the colorful interior. This family’s ger had three beds and stacks of pillows and quilts. Pictures of the eagle hunter hung on the wall with all his winning ribbons going back for 10 years. He is the much respected #1 hunter from his village.
Catching the family on moving day must have been a bad time. They had the usual day-to-day chores, plus they were still in the process of setting up the ger, moving the animals, and re-making animal pens. And then 5 visitors show up!
We must have been putting Kazakh hospitality to the test!