Day 6 – Covering Some Territory

After a rainy night I was up at 7am.  Packed up my stuff – rolled up my air mattress and my sleeping bag and then had my morning workout of forcing my sleeping bag into its stuff sack.  There was no end to the frustration this caused me every time.  It was oatmeal for breakfast and then the tents came down and it was time to get back in the saddle for day 2 of riding.

I skipped a few steps in the process.  While we’re managing our personal stuff the drivers and translators are managing their personal stuff and the food tent and all the other camp stuff that we all use – toilet, hand washing station, firewood, etc…  and the wranglers are managing their personal stuff and the saddling of the horses.

Today I learned a few things about horses, or at least my horse, he’s got a fear of big rocks.  At the same time I learned this I also learned that I can stay on when he’s spooked.  I also learned that he doesn’t really like it when the lead rope is dropped.  Something about something unfamiliar flapping around down by his head makes him uncomfortable.  I can’t say I blame him.  My final lesson for the day was that he’s not a huge fan of crossing questionable streams.  He did eventually cross it, but it took a lot of work on my part to get him to.

We stopped for a snack/lunch break at a local ger.  This was a pretty amazing experience.  All 15 of us rode up and were invited in.  They didn’t know we were coming, but were completely prepared to welcome us and feed us.  The family consisted of the grandparents and 5 grandchildren – at least that is who was present.  We were served milk tea (green teak, yak milk & salt), aaruul (dried yogurt), and fried butter (butter, flour, and sugar).  All were very tasty.  We finished with milk vodka (not as strong as vodka from the store) which is given as a digestive aid.  Milk vodka is served in a bowl that the host has filled and offered to the oldest (or most respectable) male in the room.  He drinks his fill and then passes it back to the host.  The host refills the bowl and then passes it to the next person.  This continues on until everyone has had a drink.  Then it gets passed around again.  We were told it would be perfectly acceptable for us to just lie down and take a nap, but we had ground to cover so were on our way.

We rode for a few hours more before we came to camp.  When camp was in view we saw the most amazing thing – our tents were up!  Larry, our intern for the week (he wasn’t really an intern, but he wasn’t riding so got to do work type stuff without getting paid), had set up our tents.  We were also greeted by the kids who lived at the nearby gers.  We were camped near a river and a bath sounded good.  So I went for a swim – a very bracing swim (bracing = short).  It impressed the kids, they wanted me to try diving, but the water was maybe 2 feet deep so I didn’t think that was a good idea.

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Dinner was vegetable soup and steamed buns. I also had a bit of the mutton soup that the men were eating.  After dinner we visited one of the nearby gers.  We were in search of milk and hoping to make a trade.  Once again we were drinking milk tea, but for food this time we had boortsog (fried bread) and  orom (clotted cream).

I’m not sure why I was worried about food on this trip.  So far there has been gobs of it and it’s all been quite tasty.

The family that lives at the ger we stopped at has one son.  He is 7 years old and quite the horse rider.

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The father proudly told us that he has retired 2 horses already because he gallops so much.  Everyday he gallops, gallops, gallops.  The boy told us that he had inspected our horses and that there were 2, maybe 3, that were good.  I’m assuming Roy John was one of them.

We headed back to camp and to bed at 10p.

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The view at 10pm from the door of my tent.

Zavkhan Trekking

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