Beanies and Bikinis -Summer on the Trans-Mongolian Railway travel blog

Terelji National Park

First ger

Inside the ger





Mongolian bus




Lunch, dinner and lunch again

After a long night filled with mosquitos and laundry dangling in my face it was high time to leave UB behind with it's dodgy characters and general lack of any redeeming qualities. We caught a bus out to Terelji National Park, which is about 80km northeast of UB and given the state of the roads in Mongolia it took about 3 hours to get there. On a side note, the traffic in UB is out of this world! It takes no less than an hour to drive 700m.

So Terelji, and my first time up close and personal with the traditional Mongolian house; the ger. Basically it's a round room built out of wood and wool in which a Mongolian family lives, eats, sleeps etc with no privacy, no electricity usually and a powerful smell of old cabbage and cheese feet. I had expected to be sleeping on the floor so it was a nice surprise, initially, to see there were beds. Happiness faded quite quickly when I sat down on one and bruised my tailbone; it was just a blanket on a wood base masquerading as a mattress. This would turnout to be an ongoing theme for the rest of my time in Mongolia...

The area of Terelji is about 1600m above sea level so it was far chillier than any day I've had so far. I even had a beanie on it got so cold, in addition to all my warm clothes. Boris gallantly rode a horse to the next ger camp to buy me a pair of gloves in true romantic Mongolian style.

There was a lot of not much to do there but the scenery was beautiful and it was so relaxing to simply sit and read for awhile. Arttu (from the train)  had come along with us as well, he and Boris went off hiking and horse riding for the afternoon until the weather turned sour and the ger was the only place to be. 

The rain continued to beat down for the rest of the evening and the only thing to do was drink beer and chat with other travelers who trapped along side us. There was another guy, Rocky from Hong Kong, who was convinced that we were going to die of carbon monoxide poisoning from the fire burning in the ger stove. No amount of discussion as to how the Mongolians had been doing this for centuries would convince him and we had to implement a 'door open for 5, door closed for 5' policy until he fell asleep. He also warned us of many other ways you can die unexpectedly and how to take precautions. For example, if you shower in hot water for more than 2 minutes or burn coals in bed. Amazing stuff. He was also a font of knowledge as to traditional suicide methods around the world. 

Waking up with bruised hips from the wood bed we were greeted with a full thermos of Mongolian tea...half milk, half tea and about a cup of salt. I challenge anyone to drink that with a straight face, then follow it with stale bread and jam. 

Boris and I left about 10am to head back to UB where we collected our bags, and met up with a new companion, Arman the French Armenian. The three of us have arranged a driver and jeep together for a 4 day tour out to the mini Gobi desert. I should note at this point that nomadic gers do not have showers or any running water....

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