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Published: June 28th 2014
GOLDEN GOBI GUESTHOUSE
As we traveled further south we stayed with more families and learned more about the ger. Sometimes there were separate ger for tourists who visit the desert. Usually these had five beds circling the inside wall. This was far more comfortable than sleeping on the floor.
Oh, and I must have hit my head at least ten times in eight days because the doors are only about four feet tall. The ger has two stanchions inside that hold up a wheel like center into which staves are positioned much like a giant umbrella frame. The walls are expanding lattice covered with sheep felt. An unpainted summer ger with frame, felt and weather proof outer cover costs about 2300 dollars. The walls are often covered on the inside with carpets for added warmth and beauty. The summer ger sometimes have cloth coverings instead of carpets, on the walls. The floors are wood covered with linoleum and more carpets.
The door to the ger is positioned on the SE side because the prevailing wind is usually from the NW. Our guide says if you are lost
Joanna went up one side and I went up the other.
and can see a ger you will know which direction you are traveling (if I could just remember which side the door is on).
Inside on either side of the family ger is a bed. The left side is the men’s side and the right side is the women’s. Guests usually sit on the men’s side so the hostess can move about freely preparing refreshments, etc. The altar faces the door. You are not supposed to walk between the supports (probably for strictly practical reasons, although now it is about bad spirits) and you always enter clock-wise. The ger is without corners because corners harbor bad spirits. Soko explained that gers started as tepees and graduated to more substantial dwellings.
Usually there are a couple of chests against the walls, and a table is positioned in the middle of the room. These are almost always painted orange with blue, yellow and white designs with religious symbolism. There is no clutter in the gers. Pillows and bedding are stacked attractively against the wall; the sides of pillow covers are embroidered to make a pleasing design when they are stacked and not in use. In the
Storage in a ger
You can see the felt and lattice support as well as how the nomad uses the roof supports for storing small items. The chests are small enough to be carried by a camel.
winter there is a cast iron stove in the center of the ger. Fuel is animal dung, at least in the desert region. There is usually a separate ger for the kitchen, complete with stove and stove pipe.
The second day we drove about another 150 km and came to Little Rock Hills. These rocks lay horizontally and are stacked quite high. We stopped for lunch in a pleasant sheltered spot and Soko and Inga prepared lunch, a delicious vegetable stew cooked over propane in a pressure cooker; all the comforts of home. We hiked up over the rocks after lunch and then down to view the ruins of an old monastery.
The family we stayed with this night was a man and his two children. The wife had hurt her back and was in the city at the hospital. The youngest child was a boy, but his hair was French braided and he was adorable. He was tied to the ger wall with a piece of cloth, placed diagonally across his chest so he could not fall onto the blistering hot iron of the stove that was in the middle of the ger.
Boy with French braids.
The sister takes good care of her brother while mom is in the hospital.
The child played happily with his toys, the first toys we had seen. Also we saw how the child was disciplined. This is the only time in six months of travel in Asia that I have seen any kind of discipline. The father turned him away from the rest of the people in the ger and raised his hands in the air. The child cried, but kept his little hands up until the father changed the child’s position and drew the hands down again (not long but very effective).
Here we had fresh yogurt the father was draining. And for dinner we had a big plate of dumplings stuffed with meat.
As we drove further and further into the central and south Gobi the gers were present in larger numbers and the family groups were closer together.
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