Mongolia from a different perspective

Wow. I just read Oni's blog entry about the trip we just made together and realized how much I forgot to mention. I think the easiest way is to post her entire entry so you can see her view of the whole trip - there are some fascinating details in there that I really loved with the trip.

And oh, by the way - I've uploaded all the pictures from our trip now, which is a lot of pictures considering there were five people taking photos. Will try to upload some videos as well, but for now I'll just sort them, write some comments and delete duplicates. Probably they won't be in a proper order though - my pictures go first, then Will's pictures and then Ferry's. You'll have to figure out the "real order" by yourselves! :)

Anyway, this is what Oni wrote:

Mission: West, semi Gobi, to the White lake
Duration: 7 days
Crew: well, me and 5 men
Transportation: a retro van, Bill our driver- a legend, can navigate by the winds, sun and moon.
Bonus: not tourist season
I honestly do not know where to start. I just had the trip of a life time!!!! Mongolia is a truly stunning country and I am blessed to have been able to have experienced what I did. Soo gracefully and with so much patience the Nomadic Mongolians showed us their way of life. For the last seven days we have been driving through the desert, along some of the roughest roads I have ever seen. There is a 'proper' road for the first day, however, it is soooo bad that Bill preferred the off road style. So for seven days I spent most of my time air borne, feel like I have inhaled enough dust for a life time, and often after a long day felt like some of my organs may have switched place from so much bouncing around.
The landscape is crazy! Steppes with tussock grass, rolling hills and so so dry (it gets green in summer we are told.) So imagine Bill our hard core driver, a mad Dutch man, a German, a Swede, Will and I hooning through what looked like the most remotest place on earth. Camels, wild horses, yaks and huge birds dot the landscape, whilst the 'villages' are often only a few ger tents large. Mongolians are yellow sect Buddhists, following Tibetan Buddhism, so all along the way we stopped at ovoos (stone piles with blue prayer flags) and walk around three times clock wise for good luck.
Being the off season, we had the amazing experience of staying with nomadic people, and not in tourist gers. It was soo out of this world, a real anthropological experience. In Mongolia, you can almost stay in any ones ger, no matter what time of the night you may turn up. Our fist night we stayed with the most amazing old couple. There was no language in common so we sat there looking at each other for hours, and then there it was, the biggest beaming smile I have ever seen. As soon as we had taken a seat on the floor the old woman set about making us tea ( a welcome gesture). Mongolian tea is black tea, with water, salt, and cow or yak milk, which is ceremoniously handed around and drunk in a very slurping manner. Then the old man continued with the welcoming procedures, handing around his snuff bottle, pipe (that lived in his boot, when not in use) and the trusty Russian influence, vodka, all of which have elaborate ritualistic consumption actions. For example, when you receive the vodka, you don't hold the rim of the cup, you dunk you ring finger in the vodka and flick two times towards the sky and one time towards the earth before consuming the harsh vodka, with a huge happy grin beaming at you from the old man over your bowl as you drink. A bowl of horse meat, the best I am told, was also presented, which our driver Bill ate with gusto. When I asked the old man where to go to the toilet, bless him, there I was in the middle of the desert in Mongolia, with this 65 year old man, with a wrinkled face from the elements and his traditional dress on, leading me by the arm, smoking his pipe....when he stops in the middle of the desert and says 'here toilet.'
Along the trip we slept in a restaurant, and then for two nights with another nomadic family. They at first were alittle hostile, and there was one woman who just stared at me the who 48 hours, with a sneaky look. This family was huge, however we shared a ger with a couple who were 8 months pregnant. Its so crazy, you just walk into their lives and live in their house. The men work outside with the livestock whilst the woman's job is to look after the men and do all the cooking, in fact most Mongolian men cant cook at all. Being the only woman guest, it felt like I got a closer view of how the women live. It is undermining to ask to help a woman in her ger, as she is boss, but the communication that you have without language is so great. Many of the women are younger than me, with a few children, and want to look and touch your hair and look at their face in the mirror and then yours. So we slept on the floor with the newly wed pregnant couple and five goats. Early in the morning, still dazed we were greeted by a goat meters away being a super loud alarm clock, and then various other goats getting dragged in to feed the younger ones. Outside through the open door you can see men racing around on horses organising the animals. Horses are vital and play such a big part in Mongolian life.
The last night was abit different we stayed at a friend of Bills ger, it was flash, had a TV, and fridge. The couple both worked in the national park, where the wild horses are, so could speak some English. Was a lovely night playing cards, listening to the men sing and once again finding a common ground with the women of the ger. Even tho our worlds are so different, there is that bottom line connection, that is so real.
We also stoped at beautiful monasteries along the way, watched monks chant, ate in little towns, played soccer with the village boys with an old botle, and walked up an amazing volcano to see a stunning frozen White lake. I have so so many impressions from the last week, and can only give you a snap shot of what it was like. We will put some photos up when we have time. Was lovely to have my first shower in seven days, and wash off the thick layer of dust I had accumulated. My finger is getting sore typing, we had a near accident coming back into Ulaan Baatar (mad drivers), in which I sprained my finger. Tonight we are going to a Mongolian cafe to hear some more throat singing, I love the way Mongolians sing where ever they are, most of the time.
Tomorrow morning our train leaves for Beijing, apparently the best train trip of the trans Mongolian we saved till last. It goes through the Gobi and along the Great Wall. I feel a bit sad to be leaving Mongolia, and deciding to stay here longer was one of best followed travel instincts yet. Mongolian people are truly beautiful, and I leave with only fantastic memories. Sniff!!!!

1 kommentar:

bluerain sa...

hej hej! Glöm inte skriva om den sista biten av resan, bara för att du har kommit hem nu!

Vi ses om några dagar!!