Day 7 – Picking Up Speed

I was up at 7am.  Had my daily fight with my sleeping bag and then ate breakfast and broke camp.


7am view from my front door

We did a better job of crossing rivers today.  Seems like it’s water of unknown depth that the horses don’t care for.  We did come across some of that today and my horse chose to jump across instead of walk.  Sounds much more impressive since it was really just a bit of a hop, but I’m counting it as a jump.  We also did some cantering today.  For the most part Roy John only cantered when other horses were cantering, but I did manage to get him to do it once or twice.

We had to dismount to lead our horses across a bridge and since we were off we went ahead and had break time.


Mongolia is a very social place.  These two guys dropped by to chat and see what was going on.

I took this opportunity to introduce my horse to my camera and taught him all about the selfie.  Because these horses are partly (to mostly) wild they aren’t so familiar with the beeps and whirs of technology.  To be sure he wouldn’t freak out when I took a picture I took a moment to show him what it was.  He wasn’t impressed with this picture.


Now I could take photos from horseback.


We’re all meant to be going the same direction and eventually we manage to get there.


We had a little bit of a scare today.  We have a few spare horses with us, just in case.  One of them, The Eyeball, is a trusty little guy who will just walk along with our herd and not wander off.  Today we learned that he doesn’t always make wise choices.  We had another bridge to cross and it required us to dismount and walk our horses over.  This took a little bit of time and he got impatient and chose a different route.  Turns out that through the river wasn’t the best choice.  The current was strong and he was washed into the bridge.  He eventually made it under the bridge and we all held our breath to see if he would come out the other side.


Tsooj clapping for The Eyeball’s appearance on the other side.

After that excitement it was time to finish the days ride and get to camp.  We had a one more river crossing.


We got to camp as our tents were in the process of being set up and it was lunch time.  Sushi for lunch.   Since there is no mutton in sushi the men made their own lunch.


Those bones are picked clean.

It wasn’t long before dinner.  We certainly didn’t miss any meals.


Nara, our amazing cook

There were also chores to be done around camp.  Saruul is making kindling – or possibly toothpicks.


Bedtime was about 10pm.


10p view from my tent.

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.


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.


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.


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

Zavkhan Trekking

Day 4 – I’m Not Gonna Make It

A bit of a rough day today.  I’m missing my family, I’m unsure if this diversion from real live is beneficial.  And my allergies are over the top.  It’s a struggle.  Luckily we have one final stop.  It’s a smaller town, but it does have a pharmacy and they do have allergy meds and lozenges.  I stock up, even though I’m pretty sure nothing can save me at this point.

We drive on to our first camp.  The camp where we meet our horses.


But first up is a trial ride of 2 of the tamest horses.  We’re being matched with prospective horses based on our performance on the two tame horses.  Sort of like the dating game.

Everyone did well on their trial rides and by that I mean none of us fell off.

After our rides we inspect camp.  It doesn’t take long to discover that the “toilet” has been dug with the door facing camp and that the plastic sheeting is a wee bit less than waist high.  This is taken care of in due time.


the repaired “toilet”

I head to bed about 10:30p.


yes, that is a true representation of 10:30pm.

I wake up at midnight to use the facilities.


that’s one bright moon at midnight.

So much for seeing amazing stars!



And So It Begins

I arrived in UB today.  (UB = Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia).  It feels a little odd to be doing this alone.  Part of that is because I’m sad.  I left my home and I left my son and husband in there and they will move to America without me.  I had a very good last day in Chiang Mai, but I’m still not ready to accept that I will not be returning there.  I’m also tired.  The past few weeks have been draining.  It just isn’t easy to do this.  I spent a little bit of the afternoon walking around UB – I didn’t venture too far away, but did take in a few sights.


Then there was dinner with the whole group who are on this Zavkhan Trekking trip with me – the other horse riders, our translators and our trip leader.

After dinner I returned to the hotel feeling like I’d made a mistake.  I was overwhelmed with taking in a new level of new while trying not to process this transition.  I talked to Michael a bit.  He and Sam are in Bangkok.

Then I went to sleep.

making a home

one of the things i’m looking forward to in colorado is making a home for our family.

i currently have three things hanging on walls in my house and they are all in odd locations because that’s where the nail or screw just happened to already be and that got me thinking…

when we moved to thailand we assumed we’d be here a long time.  a really long time, but we’ve never had a timeline.  we didn’t really know how long we’d be here when we arrived and each year came with either the promise of another year or the threat that we could be moving.  that makes it hard to create a home.  i’ve never put a nail into a wall here.  if something happens to be hung it’s because there was already a nail in place to hold it.  for christmas decorations we used temporary tape type things.  nothing permanent.  nothing that left a hole that would require filling in when we left.  we’ve lived in three houses here and i’ve painted one room.  the kitchen in the current house.  but it still doesn’t feel like my kitchen.  it’s just a borrowed kitchen i’ve painted yellow.

a while ago (while i was cooking christmas dinner) michael and i had a fight over a ladle.  i was cooking and i commented that i would be glad to not see this particular ladle once we moved.  he said that we should take it with us, a new ladle would cost money that we didn’t need to spend.  his statement might be true, but my only thought was that this ladle belongs in a kitchen that is in a house that’s never been our home (i also thought ladles are cheap and if i want a new ladle i’ll get a new ladle.)  i think it might have been the first time we had to think about our return being more than just a move.  while a lot of the steps are the same as the moves we’ve made in the past – making to do lists, packing boxes, arranging logistics… all that fun stuff – there’s something different on the other end.  something that i’m not totally ready to embrace, but something that i know will be good.

i’m looking forward to making a home.  i’m going to paint walls (lots of walls, but not all the walls) and i’m going to hang pictures.





making plans, dragging feet

time marches on.  it just won’t stop and i’d like it to.  i’d like to pull back on the reigns and say, “whoa” and have time stop.  and wait until i’m ready for it to move forward, but it won’t.  it just won’t.

right now i count the days by the thens.  michael’s in indonesia right now.  he’s been gone for almost 2 weeks and has another week to go.  then he’s home for a little less than a week.  then he’s in africa for approximately 2 weeks.  then he’ll be home for close to a week.  then he’s in america for 4 days.  (yes, he’ll spend almost as much time traveling for that trip as he will actually be there and he’ll spend way more time recovering from that trip than he will be there.)  then he’s home.  and for some reason that’s when time really starts for me.  time starts in april.  not sure what my mind thinks happens between now and then (mid Feb and early April), but for some reason it doesn’t feel real.  it doesn’t feel like progress.  about the same time michael returns from america family starts arriving.  aly (i cannot wait to see her, it’s been so long!!!), her boyfriend (we’ve never met him), my mom, and my aunt will all come to chiang mai.  and i’m crossing my fingers and hoping against hope that chan will also be coming (that feels like a bit of a long shot, but also not impossible).  we’ll have two weeks of family and tourist stuff and songkran and time not stopping.  overshadowing everything is the weight of “this is it”.  this is good bye.  this is our last smokey season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last hot season (miserable, but we’ll miss it).  our last songkran (not always miserable and something i will definitely miss).  and i think what makes it harder is that it doesn’t feel like there are any firsts to come.  it isn’t our first time to live in america.  it’s not our first time to live in colorado.  it’s not even our first time to live in the house we’ll be returning to.  it feels like too much.  but it can’t be stopped.

so, we make plans.  there are the we need to sort this plans, the we need to do this plans – the logistical stuff that comes with moving.  those are sort of easy (easy to see, not necessarily easy to do.)  but then there are the we have to do this plans.  and they aren’t the same for all of us.  michael is ticking off some of his through work.  i know with each trip he makes he’s saying goodbyes.  and it’s not easy for him.   the hardest plan of all is the final how do we leave chiang mai plan.   figuring out how to do goodbye isn’t easy.

it’s much easier to say late july is forever away.


I wrote my first blog post on 01 September 2007.  We’d just found out we were going to be moving – we weren’t yet sure of where we’d be going other than South Asia – and I thought it would be a good idea to blog about our move and everything that would happen during our transition.  I remember the thrill of all that was to come.  It was all so unknown and for the most part exciting and (on occasion) scary.  Well, the time has come to go the other way.

We’re moving back to America. We’re moving back with Michael’s job.  This should be a good move for him – career wise – and I totally support him.  However, I am not at all ready to go.  I’m not sure I’ll ever really be ready to go. It’s months away (7 months or so), but I’m not able to approach it the way I did our move here.

So here I go.  Blogging about returning.  Right now it doesn’t feel like returning home, even though we’ll be returning to the same house we lived in before.

There are folks who are excited for our return and we are so thankful for them, but we also don’t know how to make them understand that we can’t share in their excitement and that we need that to be okay.  Eventually we will get there.  I think.