Moving the Ger
Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
195Trip End Feb 28, 2013
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Where I stayed
Sereg's Sister's Apartment
August 31st, 2011
Northern and Western Mongolia Tour
Day 25 of 32
Tsambagarav Uul Mountain to Khovd City (pop. 31000)
11AM to 6PM
TAKING DOWN THE GER
At 7AM, the top flap of the ger was opened and the sunny day lit up the entire ger. We had slept wonderfully. Today, the plan is for us to help the people break down their ger for the autumn move. The truck driver spent the night with the 2 brothers, age 20 & 16, down at the river ger.
We followed examples for untying the many strings and ropes that are needed for the ger to be sturdy and for holding the wall hangings and decorative appliqués circling the edge of the inside roof. And the rope securing the 28 meter long apron band was looped around each of the 80 or 90 roof supports. The Kazakh ger is almost 9 meters in diameter.
It took exactly 50 minutes for the entire ger to be disassembled. 1st the square center roof flap. After the final layers of felt were removed, nothing but the skeleton of the ger was left. Every roof pole is strapped onto the wooden wall bottom structure. 3 equally spaced roof supports were left to balance the center pole. While many gers have pair of wooden center poles, this one had a metal pole that attached to the circular wooden crown wheel. A few people supported the heavy pole assembly while the final roof supports were untied and remove. Then the pole assembly was gently lowered.
About 11AM, we bid adieu and were on the road. The road had its share of bumps, grooves and rocks but also lots of relatively level areas through mountain passes and wide valleys, barren desert landscape, and steppe.
LUNCH AT THE WIDE SPOT IN THE ROAD
Four of us were in great spirits, but as usual, Pancho didn't utter a word. And remember, this is the same guy who bragged about being familiar with 20 languages and being able to speak 6! Now he had his bandanna pulled high on his face so only his beady little eyes poked over the top of the bandanna. He never included himself in conversations. But we did not want to let his 'tude ruin our fun so we let it go.
As we were finishing lunch, Umeaa asked Pancho to fish in the small river behind the restaurant. He shook his head. We got back in the van for the drive to Khovd city.
A 6PM, we arrived in Khovd and stayed with Erkegul, Sereg’s sister. We all bedded down on the floor of their living-kitchen-dining combo room of her one bedroom Russian style apartment. Sereg’s sister is really his sister-in-law but Mongolians and Kazakhs don’t use an expression for ‘in-laws’. Upon marriage, it is just ‘sister’ or ‘brother’ or ‘daughter’, and so on. So Erkeguli is married to Sereg's real brother who is a policeman, They have 2 children. The 7 year old daughter is starting the second grade tomorrow.
We were happy the apartment had a nice bathroom with a proper western style flush toilet and a shower with bath, the first one we have seen in Mongolia. But in most sizable towns in Mongolia the Russian apartment blocks have centrally supplied hot water systems and Khovd city doesn’t turn on the heat until winter! Until then, it is cold showers for everyone. But Khovd has a big bath house with hot water. We decided to go there for a hot shower.
We arrived at the bath house and found a line of 40 people; mothers with their school age children. Ahhh...school starts tomorrow and there was an unusually big demand for hot showers today. Uemaa was told the wait was over an hour but if we come back at 9PM, the line should be pretty much cleared out. We decided to come back at 9.
We drove back to the apartment. Pancho laid down with minimal words and a few groans. Uemaa asked, and Pancho said his joints and head were hurting. Sereg’s sister got him a rug and pillow to lie on and felt his forehead. Maybe, they concluded, he has a slightly elevated temperature. Pancho seemed to enjoy the attention. Sereg’s sister offered to make some medicinal tea and Pancho accepted. Uemaa asked if he wanted to go to the doctor or pharmacy. No, the tea would be enough.
Erkeguli was obligated to make the dinner for the guests. It is the Kazakh way, Uemaa explained. She prepared and served us a nice soup.
Power to the city was quickly restored. We got back to the apartment and Erkeguli was upset. She whispered to Uemaa that Kimchee had been extremely rude. He had spit in her tea cup, she explained, "the bathroom is so close why couldn’t he have gone to the bathroom?".. "He did it with the bathroom just steps away. Why would he do that?", she asked. Michelle apologized for our rude travel companion.