So the day after the hike we had an arranged day out in the countryside to visit a Herder family who live in a Ger, it was the family of one of the VSO staff. They lived over an hour outside of the city, my first taste on driving on Mongolian roads and its array of pot-holes; we arrived at the ger and met the family a couple with 2 teenage boys and girl and boy toddlers. The little boy had an obsession like most little boys of catching grasshoppers and pulling their legs off and there were millions of grass hoppers. The mother was very busy cooking all the time, she made butz from scratch, with mutton as well as potato for us non-mutton lovers, apparently the sheep had been killed that morning especially for our visit, the meat was hanging around the inside of the ger to dry out. First of all we were offered milky/salty tea which wasn’t bad at all, quite easy to drink, we sat on the left in the ger as it is where guests sit and we walked clockwise. We sat on a bed and various stools, on the right side was another bed where the family sat and at the head or North on the ger is where the man of the house sits. All gers face South this also allows you to tell the time by opening up the roof flap to let the sun in, where ever the sun falls tells the time of day. The electricity in the Ger is supplied by a solar panel attached to the outside of the Ger and then attached to battery packs like car batteries. There was also a TV and a satellite dish on the roof. Mongolians turn their TV on when they have guests it is a way of sharing what they have. The family had over 600 livestock of goats, sheep and horses and cows I think. In terms of value horses are high value and goats low value, they were all out grazing when we arrived and we could only see the sheep and goats but they weren’t very friendly, they were only interested in eating endlessly and pooping, in fact we too had to go to the bathroom where the goats go which was interesting especially with the grasshoppers.
So we had the butz for lunch, which are boiled dumplings along with gherkins and more milky tea, after we had fresh and I mean fresh yoghurt, it was superb. The eldest son of 15 also disappeared on the lone horse outside and rode off into the distance and a while later returned with a plastic bottle filled with Airag fermented mares milk, now this when I saw it kind of freaked me out. I knew I had to try it but I had only heard bad stories about the stuff, but it really wasn’t that bad, it has very low alcohol content and tasted like gone-off milk really, nothing too offensive, it seemed the teenager had gone to buy a couple of litres from a neighbour, but no neighbour we could see.
After lunch a few of us had a ride on the horse, they keep one close for transport, the saddle was wooden and made for a very small bottom and keeps you sitting upright, it wasn’t comfortable but I look forward to riding many more Mongolian horses, they are after all the last remaining world horses in the world. So this was our day in the countryside and it was lovely, we learnt a lot, the family were very generous and gave us a good taste of country life, I cannot wait to see more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I just want to add that later that evening we went to see a Mongolian rock/folk band called Altan Urag, they were fab, here is their website.