Nomads Land

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The day after Nadaam, we piled into a tastefully decked out minibus and headed about three hours outside of Ulanbaataar, to Hustai National Park. The park is situated slap bang in the middle of the Mongolian Steppe and provided the kind of scenery we had always associated with 'Genghis Khan' country.

There are no proper roads in the park, so the going was bumpy to say the least, but there was plenty to gawp at out of the window, which helped take our minds off the constant surprise drops and jolts. Beautiful rolling hills, rolled into even more beautiful rolling hills, and it became easy to understand how the Mongolian people got to grips with horse-riding early doors. There were no road signs, or landmarks of any kind that we could see, but our bus kept trundling along and eventually we arrived at our lodgings for the night.

Our host family lived in an breathtakingly beautiful valley, in three traditional Ger tents, and kept sheep, horses, cows and goats. Their pitch was right by a babbling stream, and quite frankly, it all looked far too idyllic by half!

We had a “Wow!” moment when we walked into our tent for the first time. It was like the Tardis! Our tent looked no bigger than a B&Q gazebo from the outside, but inside, it slept a dozen people very comfortably. We felt very cosy, especially as Mongolian tradition is to offer tea and food to visitors the second they walk through the door. (Just remember to put your right foot inside first to show you come in peace!)

The Mongolians have a saying, “Meat is for men - grass is for animals.” It basically means, if you're a vegetarian travelling through Mongolia, good luck to you! They have literally hundreds of dairy products, and it was most amusing to see everyone bite into what we all thought was fudge, only to discover it was actually sun-dried curd. It tasted like Parmesan wrapped in the Devil's socks. I don't think I was the only person to take one bite, smile, surreptitiously pocket the offending article and then do a 'Great Escape' impression outside later on.

Our host family had slaughtered a goat in our honour. Our evening meal was an appetizer of goat, followed by goat entrees, with a side of goat. It was utterly delicious. The men-folk got first dibs on the 'soup' at the bottom of the cauldron too, which was basically blood and fat. Waste not, want not!

As the sun went down we had a go at firing a bow and arrow, shooting for distance to begin with, and then as we got more confident, we put an old can on some stones and tested our accuracy. Our hosts' eldest son was ridiculously good, and rubbed it in further by having a go on horseback. The men also got to wrestle him later in the evening. I want that man steroid tested! He picked up and body-slammed one or two of us like we weighed nothing. (I was the only one to defeat him by the way, but he certainly got his own back in Round 2, so we won't dwell on it!)

We snuggled down to sleep around midnight, after watching a great sunset, with just the odd bleat from a sheep for background noise. It was so cool and still that personally, I slept like a log. In the morning, Lucinda told me that it had actually pelted it down all night and that a massive herd of goats had surrounded our tents all night to try and get out of the wind.

We were sorry to leave. We both agree that this was the best 24 hours of the whole Trans-Mongolian experience. Fresh air, truly panoramic views, proper working dogs, frolicking horses, friendly people... if they had Cable, we'd probably move there in an instant. :)
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Nathaniel on

Just checking the map and can't believe how far you've travelled so far. It looks a LONG way!
Looking forward to the next load of entries. Be careful and enjoy everything :-)

Stu on

Have you tried Yak juice yet? I want to hear all about hte crazy food and not just where you can buy a cheap filet :o) Nat is livid BTW :o)

Pete Vaughan on

Be careful when sampling the Yak juice. They don't really like being squeezed, and it takes several Yaks to fill an average glass....

Nathaniel on

Now I've read the whole thing. Great photos, looks stunning! So nice to speak AND see you both today. Sounds like a great time so far. Keep eating the dog and see you both soon.


p.s. 24/7 KFC with suck! :-/

himself on

The cheese experience reminds me of a trip to France - brings reality to the expression 'eat s**t'. What did I say about getting drunk and fighting with the locals ?. Awesome photo's though - don't forget there's nothing like information overload as far as your mother is concerned - stay safe

mummo on

parmisan in devils socks mm sounds yummy. think one or two of my meals have morphed into that over the years. my cooking has stood you in good stead.mission accomplished.xxxx

Balchins on

Wowee! Amazing scenery :-) impressed with your archery skills too Luci!... hope your aim is better than our Hi-Fives! ;-) Think of you both often xxx

mummo on

just read it all again - no pressure but this has become like a great book that I don't want to put down - look forward to the next installment.x love & prayers.

Nat on

Can you skip to the bit where you get nekkid? ;-)

Tell me about Shanghai? Where are you guys? We miss you! x

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