Well what a whopper of a weekend, and it all began on Friday afternoon when i was at work and i was wondering what it was i was going to do this weekend, should i go out, stay in and get stuff done, go horse riding what? Then i was called to the director’s office and told that i could leave work at 3.30 to go home and pack a bag as we were going to the countryside, just past Terelj i was told, apparently my boss has a tourist company too and they have a Ger camp somewhere and we were going there it seemed. So that was my decision made, im off to the countryside somewhere….
So i hurried home and packed warm clothes as i was told and waited for a phone call, which came and i was told a driver was going to come and pick me up in 10mins, so i went downstairs and waited for this driver???? who arrived in a 4×4 said the company name and i got in. This is how things work here, its random and strange but it is so frequent that strange has become normal and expected, but it did get stranger, he drove me to the tour company office Nomadic Journeys and met my Director’s wife, i was offered Hoshur (mutton pasties) and a tea, which i didnt really have time to eat or drink as i had to go again. I was ushered into a Korean bus owned by the company with the staff from the tour company 9 of us in total and a baby, then the wife left and the bus departed, oh and telling me it takes over 3hours to get there not the 1ish hour i previously thought. So off we drove me on a bus with 8 strangers no boss and no wife, was i being kidnapped? well maybe i thought but i feel fine so it must be ok. We began to get out of the city and stopped off at a shop for water and then further down the road we picked up a guy too then a bag full of more hoshurs and off we went. About an hour into the drive we stopped again and it was time to eat the hoshurs and crack open the beers that were pulled out from under one of the seats. Also it was a good opportunity to pee, and as i may have said before this is difficult when you are on steppes, there is nothing to hide behind so distance is all you have. Later down the road we passed the great Chinggis Khan monument and not far after we swooped left and onto a dirt track heading North, no more tarmac and in a Korean bus, we were frequently thrown from our seats as we drove what was more than 2 hours, in the dark along dirt tracks, how the driver knew what was and wasnt the track i will never know, we did also narrowly avoid at one point a cow and then later a horse, both of which couldnt really have cared less and we had to go round them oh and of cause we stopped at an Ovo. We did eventually arrive at somewhere i didnt know where as it was dark but we were welcomed by 2 people with torches so i grabbed my bag and i was led off to a Ger with the others and we had Milky tea and curd, the soft kind thankfully that i like, then the wife appears as if by magic and says i must be hungery come to the dining room ger, its the big ger, well big or small in the dark its just a ger but i found it and in there i found my boss and his business partner a Swedish man who had been working in Mongolia and tourism for an impressive 30 years and his family including his father who’s birthday it was 80years old and one of the few times he had left Sweden and his 1st time in Mongolia. I also met my bosses wife’s friends a group of 5 woman all of whome she went to school with and who she had invited up for the weekend as it was the last weekend before the camp was going to be dismantled until next spring. Now i have been used to being offered either beer or vodka but this evening it was red wine or baileys, where was i??!! Baileys it was a wine glass full, then another follwed by a bowl of goat’s yoghurt, not for eating but out came the cottonwool pads and the yoghurt was smeared all over our faces, apparently an organic face cleanser and it really was great, soft as a babies bottom we were. So a tad drunk on baileys and with goats yoghurt on my face i was showed to my ger #5, my own ger, it was beautiful orange furniture and with hand painting and pink wall fabric, there was also a ready lit stove fire so it was toasty, thankfully as out in the countryside and apparently just South of the Russian Siberian border!!! it was more than nippy, it was biting. I very happily got into my bed threw off the 2 thick sheep wool blankets, thinking what am i going to need them for with this Ger heat and fell asleep, a few hours later i awoke freeezzzing grabbing for the thick sheep’s wool blankets as obviously the fire had gone out and i was literally in a bed just South of siberia.
The next morning i was awoken by a lady coming into the Ger to light the fire and pull back the roof cover, although it was early i couldnt possibly have stayed in bed not, not knowing what was outside so i hurried to get dressed, opened the door and was blinded by sunlight and saw we were surrounded by hills and endless land, Mongolia is just endless land.
Later that morning after a walk down to the river before breakfast (everyone was still fast asleep, i was the only excited foreigner) i took a walk up one of the hills and then i was told we were going to have the whole sheep tradtional lunch as it was for the father’s 80th birthday, now ive had this pleasure before but never had i seen the whole process, by which i mean seeing the sheep alive and killed in a very peaceful way by making a small incision in the chest, the herder then put his arm in the live sheep and squeezed/detatched the aorta, this means the sheep dies calmly and doesnt struggle at all, but more remakably there was absolutely no blood spilt. The sheep was then skinned and gutted which was too much for me and i had to leave it there, the next time i saw it it was presented in a big bowl (just the innerds) for an appertiser before lunch. The meat is cooked in a large milk urn with potatoes, carrots and hot stones, which later are juggled between your hands for good health. The lunch was very special as it was for a birthday and we made vodka toasts of course and songs were sung in Mongolian and Swedish. A very special experience.
Now the afternoon was not what i expected, as i said before the Ger camp is owned by Mongolians and a Swede so combine the 2 what do you get? Well a sauna/ger down by the river, it wasnt just sitting there it had to be built and heated so a few hours later i found myself with the ladies heading down to the sauna, me without a swimming costume, i didn’t pack one for Mongolia, why would I? So i had to make do with what i had and into the sauna we went with beers i may add, it was surreal and spectacular and very girly as when 7 women go to the spa, we chated and drank and after a while when we had been in for a while we ran out jumped in the cold river screaming and then back in the ger, 5 times over the course of a few hours followed by washing our hair with the fresh river water, which was more painful than jumping in the river brain freeze!!!!
So that was pretty much the weekend, except for dinner later, got a bit drunk, girly chat, learnt alot, got up the next day and left after breakfast, this time in the 4×4, it made all the difference xx
List of things i learnt over the weekend.
-25th September this year falls on the lunar calender annual day for getting married, so 24hour weddings at the wedding palace.
-The river/lake/sea is sacred you must never pee in it, drop blood or milk!!
-Mongolian women do not take their husbands surname.