"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, January 8, 2016

Mongolia, A Report from the Field: Table Talk at Ashihai

The effort the Ashihai staff went to in opening this resort just for the five of us is apparent when I go to the unisex restroom in the lodge this morning.

Chemical toilets are placed in the stalls as the water lines for the regular toilets have been drained for winter.  A portable sink cabinet substitutes for the normal sinks, as those lines, too, have been drained and winterized.

I didn't open the lower cabinet but I assume there is a bucket to catch the drain water.

The only problem is that the plastic water holders apparently don’t hold enough water, as there is scarcely enough water for me to brush my teeth and rinse.   Either someone used far too much water or they need to be filled more often.

All that morning stuff complete, I go upstairs for breakfast and I am flabbergasted at what awaits.


Milk, orange juice, and syrup.


A dense, sugared doughnut.

To my dismay, I would not find out until later what these are.

Butter and berry jam.

Fired eggs, cheese, sausage, pickled veggies, and two wonderful pancakes that taste like they are fried in butter.   I put nothing on them, just ate them as they are.

Back at my ger, I get ready for the day’s drive to a waterfall somewhere.   

My ger.

The crown.  Look at the woodwork!

The side lattice-work of the ger traditionally is tied with rope made from horse or yak hair.   This certainly looks authentic.

A small table with my bed in the background.   Again, note the woodwork on the table and support poles for the crown.   The small cabinet at the far right is a refrigerator with a glass door.  The interior light stays on all the time and serves nicely as a night light.

A handy gift was this multi-outlet device with various plugs for different countries.   I can charge my tablet, camera batteries, and Kindle all at once.  Note the red surge cord at right.  Behind it is plastic stuffed into open holes at the bottom of the sidewalls.  There were several such openings, all found by the chill wind off the lake.   I found and plugged them all.

Woodwork again.   The flooring is a flexible, perhaps vinyl, material, under which lies heating lines.   I assume they are electric.   The ger heats up quite well.   If fact, I turned down the thermostat.

One of the two single beds in the ger.

Another air leak I plugged up.

Beautiful roof supports.

Door of my ger with intricate woodworkiing.

Cap and Patti opt out because, as Cap says, it’s a lot of miles on a rough road.   Instead, they will spend the day just hanging out at the resort.

What I did today is the subject of a couple wonderful adventure (!!!) stories that I’ll tell in the next few days, but later today, Cap and Patti join us at dinnertime.   Patti is reading a book and Cap sets up his extensive operation in preparation to write postcards.  


Cap and his postcard operation.   Note the tiny spot occupied by Patti at upper right.

The cardboard from the cracker box if a hard surface.  There is a ruler for straight lines, and a variety of colored pencils.   It drives me nuts that he doesn't turn it over to the blank side.   Do we have OCD?

Patti and her book, at left, occupy one spot at the table.   Cap occupies the rest with printouts of addresses, all carefully coded with what postcard he sends to whom so they don't receive duplicates.   Three of us ate dinner in less area than Cap's operation.

Yes, he uses a ruler.   Well, he's a retired engineer.

Hard at work.

A post card from Cap, specifically chosen for me because he knew I was interested in the indigenous Mongolian/Russian reindeer herder tribes.

This is a rather Plain Jane post card from Cap in that it is all one color of ink, no words are underlined or printed in a larger size than the others.   Note how he uses as much of the card as he can, and how he chooses the stamps carefully.

They tell us the chef had been worried about them earlier when they sat in the lodge to read and write postcards, and offered them food.   With that, my dilemma about sharing my leftovers with Cap is set at ease.

So, if you ever receive a post card from Cap, you can appreciate the planning and effort that goes into it.

Morning at Lake Khuvsgul.

Gers at daybreak.

A promotional card from Ashihai Tourist Camp, showing its location northwest of Ulaanbaatar and close to the Russian border.

Morning sunlight through the larch forest.

The bruise gets colorful.   This is from slipping on pebbles when I walked down a small bank to see the nomad and his horse.


  1. hah! A great post! I feel as if I am there with you

    Caviar with corn flakes? HOW DECADENT!

  2. I have quite a collection of Cap's postcards. I've been impressed with the time and effort he puts in to each and every one.

  3. Cap the Post Card writer here. Oh yes what an operation. The Original Premium Saltine Crackers writing pad is actually two identical sided. If you flip it over you see the same side taken from another box so there is NO plain side. I use them also as underpads to cut things with my snap-blade cutters.

    This is yet another great post. The food looks wonderful. However for Patti and myself to NOT face the food was our best decision. At some point in time we both just want to eat brutally simple.

    Sixth (6th) photo down from the top above and I quote you: To my dismay, I would not find out until later what these are. YOUR words about the wonderful cookies. You did not explain what you meant by your comment. As I recall I took them all and found out later in our Ger that they were indeed wonderful cookies. But they felt hard-as-rocks and I myself nearly took none.

    Fun post for Patti and for myself .. Cap