Published: July 18th 2010July 18th 2010
A bit late, but here is my blog about the amazing Inner Mongolian grasslands, and am going to try to get some photos up too!
So, we were really lucky to get on probably the least-touristy tour to the grasslands ever, as it was organised directly by our amazing hostel. I'd really wanted to go to the grasslands, but was a bit wary of the tours I'd seen advertised, as I wanted to share the grasslands with as few people as possible! As such I was really pleased when our driver turned up and just four of us got into the car - Megan, myself and two Americans. The driver was really sweet, and was Mongolian, so had quite a bit of knowledge about the area, despite the language barrier.
We drove through some amazing scenery for a couple of hours before arriving at 'our' bit of the grasslands - happily, there were only two tourist yurts or ger (Mongolian tents) and nothing else except a house nearby - completely my ideal image of the grasslands! We were met by a Mongolian lady who had just about the cutest wee boy ever - also the most keen baby ever
to pose for pictures! We sat in the ger for a while and ate pastries (almost like choux buns - yum yum) and drank yak's milk tea (very interesting flavour, almost like cheesy tea!). The Americans enquired as to where the toilet was and were given the answer that 'everywhere is the toilet' - hahaha! Quite invigorating to feel the wind on your bum! Whilst the others sat in the ger (!), Megan and I decided to go for a wander and it was great! Such clean air and a lovely day. We'd been warned by the Americans that 'there's poo everywhere'... um, you're in the countryside, what do you expect?! Having been to the Fife Show, where you're routinely up to your knees in a variety of poo, I was OK with it :P
Before we knew it, the wee guy was whizzing up to us on a motorbike to tell us lunch was ready, and insisted on giving us a lift back to the ger.... aaaaaaaaargh!!! Scary but pretty amazing and exhilerating, and definitely something that would only happen in China! Lunch was delicious - a hearty chicken stew with sweet potato and stodgy veg - ideal!
After lunch, we got geared up for horse riding across the grasslands, and put on some seriously cool boots. And then off to do some riding! As I hadn't ridden in years, it was a bit scary, even though the horses were pretty small and docile. The only problem was that they would just respond to Mongolian instructions (naturally), so had a bit of a propensity to trot off when you least expected it! It didn't help that the two other people we were with kept making random noises at them, thereby confusing them somewhat... I was rewarded by a really sore bum after just an hour, but it was a pretty cool thing to do!
On the way back to the ger, our driver offered to sing us a Mongolian song (in return for a song from us, of course!). He sang a song about the Mongolian people that was amazing - he had a great voice and it was so interesting. Spoken Mongolian also sounds much prettier than Chinese! So then it was our turn. The Americans sang their national anthem (naturally...!) and unfortunately completely murdered it... the Mongolian guy's face was priceless! We then had to
salvage the cultural exchange, so I gave him a rendition of 'Ae Fond Kiss' (Eddi Reader stylee... hahaha!) - fortunately it went down a treat and hopefully now our Mongolian friend doesn't think that all foreigners are tone-deaf...!
So that was pretty much our amazing trip right into Inner Mongolia... need to head to Mongolia proper next time! Going to try to put some pics up now as words don't really do it justice.
There are more photos below