I’m in the grasslands accepting hospitality in exchange for non violence. It’s hot, Fry an egg, everyone hide behind the four by four for shade hot. It’s currently 3pm and we will be experiencing the famous Mongolian barbeque soon, but for now, we burn.
It wasn’t always like this you know. Last time we spoke I was about to head to the flaming cliffs. We had heard speak of mighty creatures, as old as the earth themselves, all claw and tooth. Giant lizards who towered over todays tiny creatures. Some evidence had been found in the form of long laid down rock, but as yet no glimpse had been had by us.
The evening caused the cliffs to emit an unholy fire from deep within. The last caress of the sun draped luminance across then like a cloak.
It was a wonderful sight, well worth the visit but by the by we went back to the ger, pursued by mosquitos. Some of the party have been badly bitten with as many as a hundred bites but we remain surprisingly uneffected.
In camp I suddenly realised I hadn’t seen my passport for a while. With an increasingly frenzied search we looked through our stuff, but to no avail, it had gone.
I immediately got the guide to ring up the previous places we stayed but inside I quailed. I wouldn’t be able to travel to China without it and getting home would be a costly business. As the previous gers came back with negative responses my heart sank. All the money for the China tour would be wasted. I would have to get a temporary passport to even get home.
I have never lost my passport before and its surprisingly crippling, bugger.
Then we found out they were at the ger from the night before. It was about a hundred and twenty miles away. Relief was strong. Then we found out it was little travelled and there was no one heading our way. We were approximately six hundred miles from the capital and to get a car there and back would have cost a bomb! Our guide came to the rescue and talked to the four drivers. Two were willing to go there and back that night. Bear in mind they had driven for five hours, were going to leave at 11, get back by 7 and then at 8 drive another six hours across bumpy and winding country tracks ,( if they even qualify as tracks).
They asked for about 200 pounds to do it, including petrol, which would be a week and a half salary each. With limited options I had to say yes.
Next morning I was reunited with my paperwork. Panic over, but panic it had been!
This trip had two firsts for me. Food posioning and the loss of a passport, well I guess I’m getting them all out of the way and having a good time anyway! Time seems to have become somewhat fluid with the days blurring into one enough, it’s a relaxing and worthwhile experience, even if two minor issues have cropped up!
The next day we headed out and stopped in a small village, where we bought a volleyball and played it. Our days were pretty formulaic by now. Get up at 6:30 (it’s light anyway) eat breakfast at 7. Leave at eight. Travel for six of so hours in a car with a lunch stop and a village water stop. Drink about two litres of water a day in the heat. See a ruin, have dinner at 7. Drink for a big and talk to the little subgroup (who are awesome) of four Aussies and two other Brits.
So no change. In the afternoon we got to an abandoned temple. The communists had all but decimated the temples in their occupation, so it was mainly ruins. It was bloody hot though and so four people dropped out as we went around. It was difficult to remain in the sun it was so hot. We saw some more angry Buddha’s and then settled down for the day going for a nap to avoid the heat.
The next day we headed out to the home stay, which finds us here. We just rock up at a random families holding and ask for hospitality. This was no different and we waited in suspense as the guide and two of our drivers asked for us. Would they want to see us?
Soon we trooped into the main ger. All was well. We were given arack (fermented mares milk) and curd. The curd was hard and tough to eat, think bottom of a forgotten bit of dry cheese in the fridge and the Arack was sour and fermented. It had a cheesey aftertaste as well. An experience is how I would term it.
The host talked and our guide translated. They have three gers, one for storage, one pantry and one for bedding. He said kids would hold their ears when sex happened! The kids in question were about 14, 12 and 4. Imagine being in the same room as yours parents having sex at that age!
We now have the bbq on and are preparing for a night of frolicking with some Mongols. We will just have to see what the evening brings..