Horsing Around (Geddit!!)

Trip Start Jul 18, 2006
Trip End Jul 17, 2007

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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Thursday, August 3, 2006

After we our mountaineering session (read previous entry for details) we threw away our empty oxygen bottles, packed some stuff and headed off to Dave's place to get picked up for our horse trek. Whilst waiting we had a couple of baguettes, with real sausages inside (no weiner in site!). The guy that picked us up was pure Mongolian and looked like he would be much more comfortable wielding a sword than turning a steering wheel. We experienced Mongolian driving at its finest, a nation where the horn must be used 10 times more than the indicator, it's crazy, and they make lanes up, cut each other up and stop for no reason (for a chat, a drink etc etc) so it was definately interesting. In addition to this the roads must have seen better days, we didn't know you could actually develop car sickness! (in fact, the road stopped being surfaced half way through). After a while we left the city with its seemingly infinite number of power plants and started out into the National Park. The scenery was amazing, with hills and mountains all round and people living in their traditional Gers (big round tents) with their animals close by. After passing by what we thought we were going to (the tourist camps with nice toilets etc) we suddenly turned off the road and headed up a small track. After a while our driver pointed out where we were staying...
(Hope you enjoyed the use of suspense) The camp was made up of 5 gers and a wooden outhouse and that was about it! Getting off the minibus and looking round we both decided that this was one of the most amazing experiences. We sat down outside and were served some Mongolian tea, which is basically water, milk and salt with some pastries. We got a heads up on the camp from Jennie, who ran the Steppe Riders (our tour). Two of the Gers were for the tourists, one was for her and the other two were where the family slept and cooked. After dinner we sat in the main ger having a few beers with the Mongolians, it was useful that Jennie spoke Mongolian so you could have all those burning issues resolved! (it should also be noted on a bitch level that there was a hairy Swedish girl called Matilda trying to send everyone to sleep). We tried some Mongolian snuff (the same as regular snuff) and some goat milk vodka, which was mild and tasted not unlike swimming pool water mixed with yogurt. When we left the ger the sun had gone in and the night sky was one of the most amazing sights ever, neither of us had ever seen such stars and we saw about 5 shooting stars just by looking up (although they're meant to be bad luck in Mongolia, curses!).
In the morning we had to wait until about 12 to set off. During this time we had a look at the yak and both had a ride on the camel! Then came the main attraction, the horse riding! Mongolian horses are smaller than the ones back home but don't let that fool you cos they're cheeky scamps and can have a bit of a mind of their own. First off we rode over to the next camp which was where Steppe Riders got all their milk, meat etc. A bit awkward, just going into someone else's ger for a sit but they were very hospitable and gave us....fermented mare's milk, oh joy, along with a weird fat cake. Aaron has finally found something that he doesn't like and Beth, who drank quite a lot, will live to regret it, as you will soon see! After that we trekked for a few hours, and as we became true Monglian horsemen/women we built up to the canter and even gallop, sometimes without even telling the horses to do so! We climbed a mountain and saw a spectacular view and then headed back for a sleep. When we woke up de de de, mare's milk attacks and Beth is smitten with a bit of food poisoning! Teehee. Is fine now.
Today we went to the black market, where you could buy just about anything as long as you were after the crap knockoff version. We got exactly what we went for, moisturiser and a watermelon and returned happy. That's more or less it, gonna chill out tonight and get the train to China in the morning. xxxxx
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