Mongolia Ger Camp
Mongolia Ger Camp in Terelj
Mongolia Ger Camp in Terelj
Today we left Ulaan Baatar to drive out to the Ger camp in Terelj. We drove through the most beautiful landscape - green pastures and rocky outcrops, with gers and horse herds wandering. We stopped to ride Bactrian camels and drink airag (fermented mare's milk, it wasn't too bad, just like warm sour yoghurt, the Mongolian drink it nearly exclusively from children, drinking up to ten litres a day). We passed a Shaman's rock, walking around it clockwise three times, adding a stone to the pile on each rotation to make our wish come true. Vultures circled by overhead on thermal currents.
The Ger camp itself is in the most gorgeous valley, it is times like these that I am glad I am a photographer more than a writer, to capture the essence in a picture rather than to fail through words. The valley rings with the song of cicadas and crickets, there are marmots throughout the camp and kites fly overhead. A heard of yaks wandered in at one point, horses later on. The weather is amazing, all sun, green grass and trees, blue sky.
Angela and I went for a walk around the camp, then we had dinner and all went to play "donkey" table tennis. Nemo, our guide, told us a Mongolian joke. A guy goes to the urologist and gets an x-ray. The doctor comes out and says "You are very lucky, you have three testicles". The next day the guy is sitting next to his friend and says "Between us we have five testicles". The friend looks surprised and says, "You only have one?"
Our ger is beautiful and ornate, with our oven in the middle (lighted for the cold night ahead),
and the beds around the edge. It is made with canvas on the outside, a layer of felt, and then green silk on the inside. The supports are all carved and painted yellow, orange and red and rays of the sun.
A glorious day in Mongolia.
Mmm... a glorious night's sleep, the most comfortable since Moscow. The Ger is divine.
Most people went for a walk this morning to a monastery, but it is two hours of hill climbing, and with my twisted knee from two days ago I decided not to risk it.
Instead I climbed up to the rocks on the ridge of the valley and sat with John, Niamh and Karen, just enjoying the scenery and watching the kite fly above us. Nemo brought out his five month old daughter, so I got to hold her *smiles* She was so cute, but he told me off for saying so - in Mongolian you are meant to say the opposite to children.
So I said she was the most hideous monstrosity I had ever seen, and Nemo beamed. She had long hair, because Mongolians believe a child's spirit is in their hair until they are three years old, when they can safely cut it. And this is coming from Nemo, a trained urologist. While they are Buddhist, there is obviously a strong shamanist component in their beliefs.
In the afternoon clouds came in, and it lightly rained on and off. We went horse-riding on the small wiry Mongolian horses. My horse responded quite well to direction but wasn't overly keen on speed :) It was so much fun, and the hills were glorious when half draped in mist. We rode to Turtle Rock and the monastery, then back to the camp.