Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mongolia, Gobi, Part 2 of 3 - August 3

After a few days in Ulaanbaatar, it was time to start my trip down to the Gobi. I was in a group with 5 others, and we took the 8:30am bus south. It was a crazy ride. There are no roads in Mongolia. It was all just dirt paths, and they were very bumpy.

We arrived in Mandalgovi, a city in the next province south. Here we met our local guide, and got into our Jeep. It wasn't really a jeep, but a war time vehicle, now re-purposed to a taxi.

Following a "road" in some direction somewhere :).

This was a small village at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. All the houses were selling something and the children's job was to call out what they were selling to the people who were getting off the bus.

This was the first meal. A typical meal in the desert. Soup with some pasta and goat meat.

We visited 10 different families in the span of 4 days. So, the following pictures are from that time, but I don't remember all the details.

This cute little girl took one of our camera and started snapping away.

Picturesque shot.

His name is Sample, and he really liked my cowboy hat.

These are the Gers. In English they are called Yurts, but that's an English name. The Mongolians call them Gers.

Doggie trying to cool down in the afternoon heat.

Yul, from Hong Kong.

Angie from Singapore. She's in Korea now and will come visit in a few weeks. Yay!

Here we played a game with Goat Ankle Bones called Shangai. It was very cool. I bought some of the bones as well.

Super cute little girl.

Another cute little girl. The New Zealand couple brought little Koala toys for the kids.

Shy girl and silly dad posing for many many pictures.

6 backpacks, 1 motorcycle. They fit them on perfectly. And once he was done, he put a cigarette in his mouth. It looked very cool.

We went for a 10km walk, all the way to those hills in the distance.

Got my hat, glasses, water, camera... ready to go.

This little guy didn't make it.

We found a water hole. Probably the only one for a long distance.

Then we got a ride on a camel cart.

Some of the guys decided to walk along. It was perfect because they could take photos for us :).

Unsuccessful attempt at a village start-up.

It wasn't the most comfortable, but it went pretty fast. 

I also got a chance to ride on the camel. It was smelly and not very comfortable.

These were meat filled dumplings. Another very common dish in the Gobi.

And home made yogurt, from goats milk. WHOAAAAA! So good!

Can you believe this kid was 14?? He looked like he'd had a tough life so far. He was demonstrating the traditional Mongolian instrument: Horse Fiddle.

I tried it as well later, but I think it was broken, because I wasn't able to make it sound very good.

Sample came for a visit on his horse.

He wanted to play games on my phone. Must have been a very exciting thing for him.

The grandmother was showing us how to make rope from animal hair. Maybe horse, or goat. Not sure.

The sweetest old lady was waving us goodbye.

When we arrive to the next family, they had their cheese drying out on the ger. The solar panels were out and gathering energy for the TV in the evening.

The oldest girl. Fantastic kid.

The middle child.

I was playing with them and they were so responsive. Such sweet kids.

This was their little brother. 

He was helping keep the goats in check. Super cute kid!

The goats were tied with their heads interlocking, so they couldn't move and run away. Very easy to milk them this way.

I naturally got in there.

I eventually got the hang of it. It was very different than milking a cow.

I'm so cool!! Can you see my suntan??

Dinner, some more meat filled dumplings.

We played some volleyball. The Mongolians were kicking ass. This is what they do all the time.

The kids were following me everywhere. I was poking them, tickling them, chasing them, letting them chase me... very simple yet fun games.

Angie and me were in one tent, Yul in another, Colin in another, and the New Zealand couple in another. 

Such beautiful sunsets!

In the morning we said goodbye to part of the family. On the left side is the NZ couple, then the family, then me, then Angie, and Yul.

Another 10km walk. This time we could ride a horse for a little bit. He kept wanting to eat, but I got him running after a while.

I love the Mongolian horses. They are very easy to steer, and much smaller. So they feel better to ride than big European style horses.

I was on a horse!! YAAAY!!!

Then it was Angie's turn. I couldn't help photobomb these pictures.

We arrived at a well off family. You could see that in the intricate design of their ger. Very beautifully painted frame, and very colourful interior cloth. 

The Mongolian kids were just so cute!!!

The lady showed us how to cut the cheese she made from her goats.

She also showed us how to make felt.

Then we hopped onto another cart, this time just a poor little horse.

Looking away in the distance. That's right!

Leaving the family house. The grandmother and grandfather were driving a truck from stop to stop, and their young grandson was our guide.

This was the day we were waiting for. A walk to the Dinosaur rocks. Fantastic prehistoric scenery.

It was a very long walk. Maybe another 10km.

This was the cutest and friendliest dog ever. She came with us the whole way. She kept wanting to get into my tent the night before.

I was fascinated by every shrub and flower.

Some more remnants of animals that couldn't handle the harsh climate.

This was the grandfather. Very cool looking nomad. 

These things were huge. The size of your index finger. I thought they were scorpions first, but up close they look like giant grasshoppers. 

That little kid was our guide.

Angie being cool, even when not looking at the camera. 

Guess what this is! It's chives. It was EVERYWHERE!!! This and another plant that smelled like mint. I ate a lot of this, just because I could. So delicious!

Can you imagine, that this, a long time ago was under water, and then later, it was roaming with heaps of dinosaurs, and now, it's just rocks and old fossils. 

We walked past those giant rocks in the distance.

We also came to a cave. It was used as a shrine, for incent burning and for shamanic rituals.

Can you picture a big dinosaur running around there??

After this looooooong walk, we arrived at the park rangers ger. Him and his wife lived there, with no animals, just taking care of this vast park. We were so exhausted after the long hike, but the lady insisted on us walking around the area so more.

This lady had such a peaceful face.

The end of the hike took us to this giant rock, some sort of monument in the middle of nowhere (again).

The writing is old Mongolian writing.

In the evening, she was cooking a soup. I helped a lot.

That's me there, after most of the prepping was done.

The next morning, before heading back to the city, they showed us how to set up a ger, using a miniature model.

They had everything, including a smoking stove and their family photos.

This is the finished product.

Then, on the car ride back to Mandalgovi, we saw a herd of some sort of gazelle running across the field to our right, and then across the road in front of us.

We were told it was a very rare sight.

After a long ride back, we arrived in Mandalvoi. Yul, Colin and me decided to stay overnight instead of going back the same day and spending another 9 hours on a terrible bus.

This is what I ate that evening. I was so disappointed that I didn't get to eat a lot of meat during the Gobi trip, that I had to indulge and order this. It had mutton, eggs, and fries. It was soooo good!

Unfortunately, I got food poisoning from it and was sick the whole night. It happens I guess.

In the afternoon, I got back into Ulaanbaatar, and booked myself a nice room, so I could take a shower and relax without having to worry about the other 7 people who are sharing the same room.

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