Elena and Matt's Journey 2008 travel blog

Sunset in Mongolia

Traditional ger and the family's herd

Milking the herd

It was a 6am start out of Ulaan Baatar to get to our Ger camp 8 hours away. We stopped on the side of the road when one herd of cattle, sheep, goats and yak were passing us. One of the horsemen told us that he'd been on the road for one month now with this herd. They're really outback people here. Many are nomads who move their gers at least twice a year to two locations, one in winter and one in summer. I've also never seen more horses in a country before, they love their horses and even drink the mares milk.

The ger camp we stayed at was huge with 40 gers. Our ger was very nice, clean and spacious. There were four beds (we bunked with the other couple Jonathan and Seppie), a table and stools, a dressing table and a stove with a tall chimney in the middle of the room. The top of the ger was round and open, which we closed in the evening by pulling a sheet of material over the top of the opening from the outside.

We went horse riding in the afternoon, these small horses are really sturdy animals. After horse riding we walked a short way to visit a namadic family. We lined up and called out in Mongolian (please take away your dog) after which we went into their ger. It was perhaps the same size or a bit bigger than ours. On the right was a bed, at the back was furniture including a little worship area with some pictures, on the left was another bed and furniture and in the middle was the stove. This is the typical layout of a ger. The old husband and wife were very sweet, our local guide translated everything for us. This family moves twice a year, usually families moved to a more hilly area during winter for protection against the winter cold, whereas in summer they will go out in the valleys where the pastures are for their stock. We tried fermented mares milk here, it's actually an alcoholic drink, and it was quite disgusting, I put it to being an acquired taste.

The following day we went and stayed at a much smaller ger camp. It was so nice to be in the outdoors, in the green fertile lands where the nights sky is full of stars and where we saw magnificent sunsets. The Mongolians are ultra friendly too, a bit of a change from the serious Russians. We visited another nomadic family here. They had their herd of goat tied up in a pen ready for milking, and we saw the woman milk the mares. When finished she had a good half a bucket of horse milk there, impressive. They offered us mares milk (still not tasty) and we had the cream from cows milk which Matty enjoyed.

At the entrance of a monastery we visited I got to hold an eagle. It was huge and heavy but amazing to be so close to an incredible creature.

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