Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mongolian Mumbles: A day in the life..........


Well, some days are just more amazing than others. Recently, I was lucky enough to take part in an amazing 25 km long ride across the Mongolian Steppe, over a Mongolian mountain ( sorry.... don't know the name..) and to a famous Mongolian landmark, Turtle Rock. The weather was amazing ( +16 in the middle of October!), the company delightful, the horse, challenging ( and you all know how I love a good challenge!) and the guides wonderful! Unfortunately, due to the challenging nature of my steed ( and my general lack of confidence in my ability to focus while trotting!) I was unable to get any good pictures while riding ( although I have some lovely shots from our breaks that I might do a separate "update" blog with) but my wonderful friend Robyn, an accomplished rider, was able not only to get some great pics, but has put together a lovely account of how the day looked that I would love to share with you all. Enjoy!


Mongolian Mumbles: A day in the life..........

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Owool Jaa - The Winter Place



Owool Jaa.... Sounds kind of exotic doesn't it?  Like a far off corner of the galaxy previously only visited by Luke Skywalker or Obi Wan.  And while, arguably, my Owool Jaa is, in fact, a far off exotic corner of the galaxy, the meaning of the words is a little more prosaic. 

 Winter Place.

Although, I have to say, I think Winter Place as a name has a lovely haunting kind of beauty.  This is the story of my trip to my Winter Place.  And while I will start at the beginning, the photo above of the lovely late calf peeking through the fence does have our ger in the background which does rather ruin the suspense of it all .. now you all know that despite the travails of the day, Owool Jaa noolsen (moving) was, in fact, accomplished.  Here's how it started....


Part one..buy another layer of felt to add to the ger so you can keep warm through those bitter months, and stuff ( STUFF!!) it into you car before you head out to pack up the ger...

Packing again...it was, in fact, the only part of the whole ger move that I was any good at...

First order of business was to pack up the portables, haul out the furniture and start stripping off layers.  ...from the ger!! (pervert!)
Ok, here we are down the outside canvas, flip top for the roof opening and the plastic...this is what the felt looks like when it isn't all stuffed into a car..this is the summer layer.  The winter layer is very much the same, but thicker.
And even though it doesn't look like I was doing any work, I was. A lot of work- promise!  Actually, quite a lot more than I thought I was going to be doing.  I guess I bought into that "it only takes an hour to move a ger" line.  True...but there is a lot of pre and post move work to get through too. 

Once we had it all taken apart, I startd looking around for the moving truck....



Or, at least, a Heinig cart.  I mean, isn't this what National Geographic is always telling us the nomads use to head to the Owool Jaa?  Well, it turns out that when the friend with the truck doesn't turn up on time, they DO use the heinig cart...

...not always with a heinig though... And yes, that blank spot at the back on the right is my spot...I was pushing too...and let me tell you - those boards were HEAVY!!

But we got them to the Winter Place.  After the first load though, we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and my neighbour went up the hill to another neighbour who has a truck and twenty minutes later we were in business....


Half loaded up ... that is the winter place you can see in the background.  Not too far, but apparently much much warmer in the winter in the lee of the hill and there's much less snow.  So they say.  We will see I guess.

The finishing touch....
and thanks to the help of the whole gang..and the horse...we were set to head over.
The next day it was time to do all the fine work...our Mongolian friends had actually assembled the ger the night before after we left for the day...
I got a lesson in cleaning ... one MUST sweep before putting down the cardboard as it turn out.
Ok - so here's the game.  One of these things doesn't belong here....maybe the "Priority" tagged suitcase?  


Lovely to see the neighbour girl enjoying the English books my Mom sent along to help me set up  my countryside ESL school....

Here's the view from one ger spot to the next...the greener grass in the foreground is where our ger used to be...and now?  It is the last one on the left.  


And this, this is the view from the hill that protects us in the winter.  It is a very unusual to think of landscape as an active participant in your life - of using it to your advantage.  A whole new take on "location, location, location".  And it is very weird to be in side the exact same ger and open the door to a different vista.  A little wee bit like going through the proverbial worm hole...and instead of ending up in another quadrant you are in Owool Jaa.  


Thursday, October 13, 2011

UPDATE: When Does 2-2=1?


When it is two cows minus two cows equals


one motorbike.

Yup - that is what our lovely Mongolian friend bought with the proceeds of the sale of his two cows. Just in case you were wondering.