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Rich’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 12 Jul 2005

Location: Mongolia

MapFrom Siberia we headed into Mongolia. There we sorted out a tour around the Mongolian countryside for 13 days. We spent some of the days speeding around the countryside in a Russian built jeep, getting stuck in the mud, driving through rivers and taking in the empty countryside. One morning we didn't see any other traffic for about 5 hours! You do see the Mongolia nomads though riding around on their horses after sheep, goats, cows and Yaks. Real wild west stuff.
We stopped for 3 days in the North of Mongolia at a place called Khovsgul lake and went horse riding for the first time ever. We absolutely loved it as the horses were really up for running all the time so we got to gallop across the fields and through the woods at quite a speed. Rich went riding a second time about 5 days later up to an extinct volcano which was also fun apart from the fact that the saddles were really hard so his coxic (is that the right word?) took a battering and he still can't sit down now without wincing.
In the countryside, the Mongolian way of life is still really quite basic - they live in round tents called gers and are heavily reliant on their animals. In fact all they seem to eat is Mutton. The toilets in the Mongolian countryside were quite a sight - mostly a wooden shed over a big pit with planks laid accross which you stood on when you squated.
One day we stayed with a Mongolian family in the middle of nowhere and the man of the house went off to get a sheep for our evening meal. He brought it back, still semi alive, on a motorbike so that he could show us all how he slaughters the sheep to get the mutton. Seeing as Rich doesn''t eat meat, he declined to watch him actually kill the sheep although he watched the rest of the slaughter. It was quite interesting seeing him remove the kidneys, heart, stomach etc but we weren't so keen when he snapped off all the legs and you really heard the crack of the bone.
After the tour around the North/Central Mongolia, we returned to the capital, Ulaan Baator, to watch the opening ceremony of the Nadaam Festival which is the big national festival they hold each year featuring wrestling, archery and horse riding. They put on a good effort with lots of processions, dancing and singing of all the big Mongolian acts but it wasn't quite up there with the Sydney Olympics. All good fun though.