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Published: October 20th 2008
From the Mongolian plains
I'm sorry Mongolia. I know you offer so many beautiful places to visit, your people are so hospitable, your plains so vast, your lakes so clear, in the summer horse riding festivals and in the winter ice skating on the lakes. So much to do, so many square kilometers to enjoy. But, after so long on the road we are tired, with the expectancy of arrive home and re-starting our jobs we have our minds focused on other place that's not here. If we missed most of your attractions is because we took the opportunity to sit inside the hostel and work on our blog. This is a task we would have to do anyway. From now on our schedule is very tight and this was the best opportunity.
We didn't miss 100%!t(MISSING)hou. We did a small camping trip and it was perfect. The four days we spend in the country side was just great. One experience for a life time. The plan was to walk into the wilderness until we got tired and camp there. Next day walk again and camp again. If we were lucky we would meet some nomads and maybe sleep in their ger
The hospitality is unbeatable.
We took a overnight train to Erdenet (The farthest we could go, the end of the line)
. By the time we stepped off the train to the north was a big water dam. It wasn't what we expected. But to the south... ahhhh endless plain fields spotted with white nomad tents. All we wanted! Claudio, Fernando and Jonas (from Sweden, we met him at the hostel)
, the three of us together just started walking into the empty fields aiming south. After a few hours we stopped for a quick lunch and kept going. In the afternoon we finally got tired and set our camp.
Just after we had pitch our tent, two nomads gathering their herd stopped by our camping site. They unmounted their horses and approached us with curiosity in their smiles. We greeted each other, in different languages, since they could not speak English and we, of course, don't speak any Mongolian. One of them pulled out of his pocket a pack of cigarettes and offered us. Jonas accepted one and even went for a small horse ride . We understood that this was their demonstration of hospitality. Immediately we offered our hospitality too. We brought
Due to the small population Mongolia's towns are very small.
one bottle of vodka just for this situation. (we knew they love vodka around here, its even sacred)
One after the other, they pored some spirit into the mug, dip one finger into the liquid and flicked once upwards, once forwards, once to the ground and than touched their forehead. After completing the thanking ritual they enjoyed a generous portion of the drink.
We drunk it too, but in our way, only a small shot at a time. Our Mongolian friends had a big portion each time. This way the bottle didn't last long, after a few rounds it was over. We said our farewells and they were gone.
We spend the night there and left next morning. Besides all our effort to save water, we realize we didn't had enough. While walking during the morning we spotted one ger
, a nomad tent. We decide to stop there and ask for some water. The family immediately invited us inside and offered some tea with mare milk and a king of bread. Again there was no verbal communication. It wasn't needed. After drinking and eating, they provide us the water. We thanked and left. After walking only a few meters we
Drinking in Mongolia involves a sacred ritual.
listened to their young kid running after us. He had in his hand three pieces of dried cheese, which he gave to us. This was another tradition in Mongolia's nomad society. Always care for the ones who are on journey. We were touched with their kindness. To express our gratitude, Jonas took a big bite and almost broke all his teeth. The cheese was stone hard. We couldn't eat straight away. We tried wetting it, cooking with soup, heating on the fire, but the cheese wouldn't give up. We still wounder how do they eat it.
Our camping trip followed without any problems and full of Mongolian hospitality. They came to us and asked unintelligible questions and when we tried to answer something like Brazil or Ulaan Baatar, they kept point the way we should go. They tough we would walk all the way to the capital. Or they are very used to long distances walks or the last tourists were crazy. On the third day we came back to Erdenet and took a night train back to Ulaan Baatar. Fourth class of course! We have to keep our budget.
Back in the capital still waiting for collect our
Mongolia's main economical activity.
passports at the Russian embassy, we worked more at our blog. Finally we had it up to date, all the entries, from the very first day of our trip till that day.
It's a strange feeling, we never cared about the return because it was so distant and now, suddenly we have one more month only. We bought our plane tickets leaving from Germany. The first country will be the last.
Friday we picked up the passports and packed our stuff to keep on going.
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