It’s lunch time on the first day of my three-day tour and we head for a tourist camp in Terelj National Park in Mongolia. The camp itself is closed, but there’s a temporary kitchen set up in a ger, and for the first time in my life, I enter a ger.
|The main lodge is closed for the winter.|
|Gers for tourist accommodations.|
Half a dozen Mongolian men are seated at a table. We take seats on the other side of the structure.
Soon, lunch appears. There’s a yummy salad of tofu, pickles, and ham with mayo. It’s a meal in itself, but it’s soon followed by delicious chicken noodle soup. I’m full, having finished neither dish, but soon Purevdolgor, the chef, brings out Mongolian dumplings filled with ground sheep. Then she tops it all off with chocolate ice cream. A four course lunch in a ger.
|Tofu, pickles, ham with mayo.|
|A divine chicken noodle soup.|
|Mongolian dumplings with ground sheep, called buuz.|
|Purevdolgor, the cook|
I ask if I can see the kitchen. She says it’s a mess, but I have Yusef tells her I’ve worked in many restaurant kitchens and owned my own restaurant. Despite her reluctance, I consider the kitchen fine.
We back-track a short distance to where a few Mongolian horses are tied to a line. As we pull up and park, a teen-aged boy jumps astride a horse and trots the horse to the line. His feet hang well below the stirrups and I stand in awe as he seems to be one with the horse. I am reminded of the saying, “A Mongol without a horse is like a bird without wings.”
|Sound asleep in the noonday sun.|
Unchanged since the 13th century, the Mongol horse is stocky with short, but strong, legs. It stands 12 to 14 hands, or 48 to 56 inches, and weighs about 600 lbs. They are typically unshod and have few hoof problems. These are the horses that helped the Mongols conquer much of the known world in the 13th century.
This horse is a breed unto itself, not descended from the Przewalski’s wild horses as once thought.
Then it’s my turn. I need help getting on, mostly because the girth strap is quite loose and the saddle slips towards me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
But, there is a confession due here. They do not let you ride off into the Mongolian sunset on these half-wild horses. Instead, they lead them. Yusef soon takes over for the drover. We go a short distance and turn back.
|Looking down at the saddle.|
|Yusef leads my wild mount.|
|These horses are turned loose to forage in the winter.|
The whole point was to get a photo of me on a Mongolian horse for my step-daughter Diane, breeder and trainer of horses and mules. And a zorse. Once.
|I buried my hand in the thick mane. These horses can withstand temperatures far below zero.|
Photos done with, we get back in the vehicle and travel down the beautiful valley in warm sunshine, back to the second ger I will ever enter.
|Road scenery. Handsome critter, isn't it? These animals look like they were assembled with leftover parts. Nothing seems to belong to the next part.|
|I will stay in one of these gers.|
For interesting information on these amazing horses, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolian_horse