Wednesday 8 June 2005
We left Ulaanbaatar to the tourist ger camp today. It was about seven hours southwest on mostly bad roads in American standards. Huge potholes all over had the driver darting all over the road and constantly braking, but still unfortunately found quite a few. The actual ger camp is nestled snuggly in the mountainside. A lot of cows and horses on and next to the road, I would love to have at least one Mongolian horse. Sayanaa said a regular horse runs about one hundred dollars where a racing horse may run up to fifteen hundred dollars. A steal of a deal. The gers do not actually have electricity here, but they are quite spacious and comfortable. A shower ger and eating ger also exist with three latrines. The spiders are horrifically large though. Being as afraid of spiders as I am, I feel I am handling it well, they do seem rather harmless and afraid of us. The view, however, is definitely to die for. We did some rock climbing and hiking around, saw many animal bones bleached in the sun. As we ate a very traditional and tasty Mongolian dinner, we had musical accompaniment of the main dish in the background-sheep. Many color and sizes grazing the hillside, it was interesting and an eye-opening perspective. Simple things in life are taken for granted. I was awed to look up at the clear night sky and see so many stars. So bright, so many, I have never seen anything like it. I do find it sad that industrialization has taken this away from so many and introduced such issues as poverty. Nearly a third of Mongolians are considered below the poverty line, many young kids beg for food and money. One in particular has befriended us, a very amusing young lad. It’s wonderful they are able to keep their sense of humor during such difficult times.