It’s late afternoon by the time we reach the gigantic statue of Chinggis Khan and check into our gers.
Basically a free-standing tent, Mongolian gers resemble Turkic yurts to a great degree, the primary difference being that the roof supports of yurts are curved, whereas the Mongolian ger supports are straight. A lattice-work frames the interior walls.
|Braided yak or horse hair.|
A layer of thick compressed wool (felt) lies atop the roof supports and exterior walls, all covered by a canvas, usually white. Ropes braided from horse or yak hair are tied around the circumference to work as tension bands and hold everything in place. In areas subject to high winds, additional ropes will be stretched across the roofs and weighted down. I saw tires hanging from some of those ropes.
In the top center of the roof, a stovepipe protrudes through the crown opening with space available to admit light, with a pelt or canvas flap that can be pulled to close the opening. Most gers are self-supporting, though some gers will have support poles inside, particularly large gers.
The short doors of gers are often painted in bright colors, sometimes in accordance with Shaman or Buddhist symbolism.
My first impression of the ger at the statue is WOW! This is not a traditional ger by any stretch of the imagination. Light, airy, and beautiful, with a heated floor, it is a five star ger, in my opinion. The crown features an actual skylight, with glass panes.
There are four single beds around the circumference and a door that leads to an adjoining bathroom, complete with everything you’d need in the way of fixtures. This ger has solid walls covered by gold cloth. The interior roof supports are decorative only. These are tourist gers, meant to last a long, long time.
|The crown skylight through which I watched UFOs.|
I open the door to rest room and am greeted with freezing cold air. The ger itself is far too warm for my tastes, so I leave the door open to warm the bathroom and cool the ger.
Yusef and I, along our driver Khurelbaatar (thankfully nicknamed Aagii), walk up to the statue’s dining room for dinner. Milk tea (without salt) is followed by a one-dish meal of noodles with beef, peppers, onion, scallions, and squash. It is very tasty.
I lie in bed gazing at the dark sky through the crown in the roof. Suddenly, I see a pale yellow light pass slowly across the opening. An airplane? A meteor? Then there’s another and another. Now a red one, and then I realize that I’m watching the reflection of vehicle lights pass by on the nearby highway.
No UFOs, no airplanes, no shooting stars, just the reflected lights of traffic. That mystery solved, off to sleep I go while Chinggis Khan and his Mongol warriors watch over me.