I am now, sitting outside my beautifully constructed ger. It is like a little felt house for three equal sized bears. Its lattice walls and painted timber rafters can be put up in a few hours. It has four little painted beds, a low table painted preamble with swirls & curls, with 4 little painted stools around it. It just needs Goldie Locks to make the party complete.
These Mongols must have been small. I have already scraped or banged the top of my head on numerous occasions. The best was when I was putting on my Tshirt as I was leaving the ger. I hit the flat of my forehead on the top of the frame with such force that I dislodged two of the rafters which clattered to the ground past my shoulders. Didn’t hurt at all. Sounded good though.
Earlier we had followed the main road out of Ulaanbaatar. On the way we dropped in to Gandan monastery, the largest functioning lamasery in Mongolia and the seat of Buddhist studies. 70% Mongols are Buddhist.
Gradually the commercial and industrial areas peter out and the grasslands begin to show. The emptiness starts to stretch away from us on all sides. The road rulers straight ahead to the horizon on the gently undulating folds of a puckered up table cloth. Every few miles, off on one side or the other, a collection of low, squat circles or peaked painted rooves indicates a settlement of some kind, usually with horses stirring up the dust.
Then we turn off onto a gravel track and head inland to the ger camp and away from the road and humanity. The drivers take no hostages. Foot down, they charge through the scenery until we stop at the top of a small range of hills. Wowsa. Look at this. Just empty.
The afternoon is spent searching for the Przewalski wild horses. I am sure that you all know that this is an unique species of horse that nearly became extinct but now over 300 survive on the Mongolian steppes. It is a bit like whale watching in the Indian Ocean. Instead of boats chugging about to get the first sighting, 4x4s charge along the dirt tracks, stopping, offloading their passengers, pointing at rocks that may or may not move. They are eventually seen cantering down to the grass by a small stream, where they stop and pose for photos from an appreciative audience. That’s them, the famous horses in the far group.