The fire is crackling and the skin and felt covered ger is warming up very nicely. I expect it to stay warm all night. This nice feeling was helped by the first warm shower in a couple of days!
Today was another wonderful day. Not too much driving, less than 100km, and visiting some more of Genco Tourism great sites. It seems the guy who owns Genco is also the Minister of Agriculture in the Mongolian Parliament. He certainly has had great vision to establish fantastic facilities for travellers. Our guides say our self drive group is pretty unusual, and they normally bring people along in small or large buses from UB, Ulan Bataar, the national capital which is only 80km or so away.
This morning we enjoyed a breakfast of rice and real coffee, albeit with whitener. Brian addressed the creaking front end of our car by tightening some bolts on the sway bar and replacing one that had been lost, by stealing a bolt from a brake line support that needed it less. This is a good outcome and the car has many less creaks and groans now. At some stage he removed the problematic flat tyre and replaced it with a spare. it will go back on once a proper repair has been completed in UB in a few days time where we will be spending two nights.
The 13th Century village has four or five different campsites spread amongst the hills and rocks. A short drive between them, but they are not visible from each other. Yesterday was the village gate and the postmans outpost, plus the Kings Pavilion where we had dinner. This morning was a Sharman or priest village that consisted of separate ger for each particular Sharman’. These are so authentic the real Sharman come several times a year to practice their craft. Local folk live in these small villages, maintaining them and entertaining the visitors each day, sometimes a couple of groups a day.
Next was the animal yards, complete with twin humped camels to ride and small ponies. I am waiting for bigger horses to appear to be ridden by us larger framed westerners, but none do. These are small ponies and the large local men look very out of place on them. We all had a camel ride, which was fun. The two humped camel is comfy to ride on as the humps give a greater sense of security and they are not as tall as the Australian camels, adding to a sense of safety.
Next was the school which was an important part of the lives of the Mongols in the 13th century. I think it was more for boys than girls. Our teacher wrote our names in the local Mongolian script which we have kept and you will be able to see at some stage, pretty neat.
Another place was the kitchen, which served us warm milk from some animal, and cheeses and yoghurts. All were taken by two of us, some was interesting and palatable, some not so. Sadly some of our group tossed their cheeses into the bin, which personally I felt a bit rude in front of the family who had made it.
At each of these places we could place dress ups and get into the gear. It was fun.
Then we had a short drive through wonderful scenery with rolling hills and rocky outcrops, along roads that are a series of two wheel tracks in the grasslands, intersecting from time to time. As we discussed in our car, these are very modern eight or so lane highways with automatic direction changing depending on the needs of the traffic flow. i.e people made their own way according to how rough a track was.
We arrived at another Genco feature, this time a huge 45m high structure that contains a 30m high stainless steel horse with Chengis Khan on it’s back. Inside where museums, lunch and you could climb to the viewing platform on the horses head.
Outside were tethered eagles, a vulture and a falcon, all of which could be placed on your arm for a fee. Kerry avoided these.
Another short car drive and we came to our nights accommodation, and a horse ride. We are in gers again, as I have described above. But they have communal showers, lights and are very adequate accommodation.
All of us went on the two hour horse ride and had a great time. We rode on these little ponies at a walking pace, sometimes a trot and sometimes a canter, which was nice for me as it’s the first time I recall such pace. They took us up to turtle rock, named because of it’s shape, which we climbed, scrambling over the rocks. It was quick slippery and steep, not quite what our horse riding weary legs really needed. Then it was remounting again and back home.
My horse was great. It responded to my commands and liked being towards the front, not lagging behind. Jacob’s was good for him, being a first time horse rider, but seemed lazy and preferred to follow. Kerry’s rides, two different horses, performed well for her and she has seemed to enjoy herself. we were accompanied by several horsemen, and our own guides seemed pretty proficient too. There was also a small child, probably four, who was not only well behaved, but looked completely at home on the horses back. He’d lead other horses and looked for all the world like he was leading us too. I asked one of our horseman how he came to speak good English. Watching plenty of movies on TV was his answer!
All this followed by a nice meal, and it’s suddenly 10pm. Fortunately we have a 7/8/9 start and a shortish journey into UB tomorrow where there will be wifi once again.
What a great day.