Published: May 27th 2011May 21st 2011
Oh what a mess we can make after unloading our backpacks!!
To a grinding halt we stopped, realising that it just may be cold outside - with defrosting snow and all!! As we stepped of the train and gave brief farewells to fellow travellers, we realise that yes, we hadnt prepared very well for the elements.
The company we organised our visas through, had a guide to pick us up - Tunga - who looked more like a drag queen than anything else, but nevertheless spoke fair english and seemed nice enough. With initial reservations, we were transferred to our first homestay. On the approach to the house we were mortified when we pulled up at a graffiti stricken concrete council flat type building, maybe 10 storeys high and looking like a backdrop for the movie romper stomper. As we climbed the interior stairwell, our reservations heightened when battling through the smelly rubbish ridden stairs. With a swift ring of the bell and a friendly smile from behind the door, all the reservations slid away as we were led into a warm flat which grandma would be proud of.
Now 'grandmas house', as we fond referred to it as, was quite strange for us. It seems we were to only
What a fox!!
The quick brown fox jumped over..... nothing, because he got shot and made into a hat!!
enter either our room (which consisted of 2 single beds), the bathroom, the toilet, or the kitchen- only by invitation. The rest of the flat was on lockdown, and they would shut us out of every other room, and leave us be. This wasnt too bad though, but the other strange thing was that grandpa may not have been told about our little homestay arrangement. That evening as grandpa toddled home after his afternoon outing, there was a futile barney, happening inches from our door... but he must of soon warmed to the idea, as 10minutes later, he was peeking around the corner, giving us cheeky grins, and playing with us like children in a game of peek-a-boo...
We then popped out for a very overpiced feed and a look around before retiring for an early in the morning. At 10am, our tour guide Tunga, picked us up in a private car and off we went down some bumpy roads out of town and headed to our ger camp in the Terelj national park. The roads are severely pot holed, lopsided and in ruins, as the climate is unforgivable in Mongolia - we were explained to that the roads
Our Ger - Or Yert....
Hows this for a cosy little abode!
get constant maintenance, but even if its snowing, the air is dry and harsh, and plays havoc with the infrastructure. On we ploughed, and an hour out of town we hit a picturesque postcard wonderland of climbing hills, filled with Yaks and ger camps. Down a windy dirt track we sped, and pulled up to some of the most beautiful country side we have ever laid our eyes on.
As we lugged our backpacks out of the car, we were guided to our home for the next 2 nights. Our ger was simple but very homely, consisting of a bed on either side, a small tabel with 2 chairs at the rear, and a potbelly fire with 2 massive boxes of firewood in front. We soon cranked the old fire up, and the place was filled with intense, instant warmth. The Ger is a dome like dwelling with a wooden structure which is then covered with a woven felt, and a waterproof leather cover on top. This gives it great insulation and is very hardy and weather resistant. After a mammoth 3 courses for dinner, we settled in for the night playing cards, with the fire howling, and with
Rugged at its best!
This place is so rugged and beautiful - a bit like the lady in the pic!
the promise of someone coming to stoke and refuel the fire at 12am and 5am, so we were warm throughout the night!! Did they F#$K!!! The girl who done this slept in, and we were frozen solid when we awoke...
Thank god for the hot ups of black tea served to us in the eating ger!! With again, a 3 course breakfast, we managed to defrost and get down to business!! EXPLORING!! On horse back mind you!! In my 30 years of life as an Alby, this was to be my first time.. Now ive jumped out of planes and ridden mopeds off bungee towers, but this was a new fear to overcome... and i'd have to say, i was packin it - but, I came through unscathed andI even enjyed the whole experience - but im betting my horse didnt, as it had the squirts, and the most foul smelling farts ive ever endured... Can you imagine someone jumping on your back, and asking you to walk a few kilometers when your arse is running quicker than Hussein Bolt in the 100metre sprint?? Not nice can imagine, but the horse was well behaved, and did us proud!
What a beautiful morning!!
Not to wake up and be frozen though!!!
This experience was over and we then had a 4 course lunch (YES fat bastards we are) and went for a walk up the mountains, across massive boulders and rock faces, and then it was time for us to visit a local nomadic family ger with Tunga. This was something else!! We felt so priveleged to be allowed in this family house, but the man took us like one of his own and offered us some snuff -which is a stone powder we snorted - which clean our nasal passages and made our eyes water, and fired questions back and forth through our translator. This guy had endured everything, his family had lived there for generations, and he was weathered from Mongolias harshness. He then pulled out his milk Vodka, which tasted like sour clear yoghurt juice, made us have the mandatory 3 shots(a Mongolian tradition) and we gave him gifts from Australia, posed for a few photos, and off we went back to our Ger...
Now it was getting COLD!!! And as i only managed to pack one pair of jeans for the trip, and these werent cutting the mustard!! So after another cracking feed, we headed to
Our nomadic mongolian farmer
This guy was ace, such a happy old boy with a heap of tales!!
the ger and this time, got the fire belting!! It was so hot, we couldnt sleep until it died down, and this time our fair maiden made it to pick up the slack and top up at midnight... BUT then 5am hit and we were both awake shivering again... by 5.30, she was there refuelling for us, but it didnts eem to make a difference... and we found out why when we looked out the entrance of our Ger!! We were a foot deep in snow, and by jingo, was it sub zero!! Again we had to defrost with hot black tea, but the mission from our ger to the dining ger in vans which arent waterproof left the feet sopping wet!! With only jeans on, wet feet, and a jacket, we both departed our ger experience hypothermic and feeling like solid blue icecubes... the upside being that it was so picturesque, and as usual, we found ourselves lucky to be there, despite the conditions.
Afte driving through blizzardous conditions back to the country's capital (just surviving as all we could see was oncoming headlights at the last minute) we were thankfully safe in grandmas ghetto hood. We made
Work it baby - work it!!
Stef ripping out some push-ups mongolian style!!
the most of civilization and checked out the cities monasteries and monuments, before departing grandmas, giving her some choccies and a koala as thanks for her hospitality in her warm home...
Now it was time for part 2 of the trans mongolian journey... the journey which would take us into Siberia, to join the trans-siberian route!!
Bring it on Russia!!