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.

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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.

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the repaired “toilet”

I head to bed about 10:30p.

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

I wake up at midnight to use the facilities.

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that’s one bright moon at midnight.

So much for seeing amazing stars!

 

 

Day 3 – Keep on Driving

Our Zavkhan Trekking group was up at 8am.

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Very blue skies at 8am.

We were back on the road.

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Not everyone defines road the same way.

Our first stop is the last chance at a supermarket.  There is also a pharmacy.  Turns out Mongolia hates me.  My allergies are on high alert.  Actually they are on kill me mode.

Today I also start to realize just how vast Mongolia is.  There is absolutely no end in sight.

We stopped to have lunch by the river.  The translators and drivers – all who are Mongolian and should know about all things Mongolian – introduce us to Mongolian Tuna.  Mongolia is landlocked so I’m not sure how that happened.

After lunch we are back on the road where we encounter our first livestock vs. Furgon face off.

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no sheep were hurt during this encounter

Our final stop was our second Ger camp at Badmaarag.  This is a training facility for uni students studying hospitality.

We finished our evening with a horse talk/warning.  I admit to feeling a bit tentative/scared out of my pants after this.  I’d read most of what was said, but for some reason I blocked that these horses were partly to mostly wild out of my mind.  Nothing to do about that now.

 

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.

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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.

A True Test Ride

A little while ago Jackie mentioned the possibility of a morning trail ride in Mae Rim (about 1/2 an hour if Lukas is driving) and TODAY WAS THE DAY!!  We headed out early this morning to the M-Place and had an amazing mountain-jungle tour organized by the Skill Center Chiang Mai.

My horse for the day was Dang.

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Dang means red in Thai.

We got all the horses ready and all the people ready and headed out for a trip through a beautiful tropical forest – bamboo and mango trees galore.

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This picture does not do the beauty justice.  This was magical.  Much more vibrant than the picture portrays.

We stopped at the top of the mountain (some would call it maybe a bit more of a hill) for a much needed snack of fried chicken and croissants with ham and cheese and steamed sweet corn.  All provided by Khun Ning – thanks Khun Ning!

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Lukas was familiar with the route and at times would have Ning and I ride ahead and once we’d cleared the path he’d yell at Jackie that she could gallop and she and her horse would gallop up the trail to catch us.  It was so impressive!

There were also many branches to avoid along the way and Lukas mentioned (maybe more than once) how handy it was that I’d managed to learn to bend down and touch my toes while riding so I could dodge these branches.  And he was right.

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Towards the end of the ride we came to a place that could have been right out of The Chronicles 0f Narnia – if The Chronicles of Narnia had been set in the tropics.  We came into a bamboo forest where the sun was shining through and making everything all glowy.  There were also mango trees and the horses were snacking on mangoes – their fill of mangoes.  Horses can eat a lot of mangoes.  We eventually moved on and ended with both Jackie and me (Jackie leading, thankfully) galloping to the end of the trail.

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It was a wonderful day.  A huge thank you to Jackie for a wonderful gift!

 

 

Why Mongolia on a Horse?

When we found out in late 2015 that we’d be leaving Thailand and returning to America one of my first thoughts was that I hadn’t seen enough.  I hadn’t done enough.  Why didn’t I travel more?  Where did I want to go?  Where had Michael been that I hadn’t?

I started with a list and asked myself if I wanted to travel there.

  • Mongolia – Big YES!
  • Sri Lanka – Would be nice.
  • Northern India – Maybe
  • The Philippines – Maybe
  • Bangladesh – Big NO!

Since time was an issue and money was an issue and Michael’s travel schedule was an issue it had to be just one and it wasn’t too difficult to figure out which one it would be.  I have friends who traveled on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to St. Petersburg through Mongolia.  That sounded amazing.  I started researching it.  Could we make it work?  Probably, but I’d be traveling alone and I felt like a train trip by myself could be really lonely.  So I looked up other ways to see Mongolia.  How would I enjoy seeing it on my own and when would be the best time?  The when was pretty easy.  We knew we’d be returning to America mid-July.  We’d originally planned that I would stay in Thailand for a few more weeks while Michael and Sam attended to other business in America and then we’d meet up in Colorado.  Rather than stay in Thailand I could head to Mongolia, but what would I do there?  Google to the rescue.  I had dates and location and Google gave my an option I’d never considered.

Horseback riding across Mongolia.  (Not all of Mongolia – it’s a really, really big place.)

There are several outfits that you can work through and they all sounded good, but one appealed to me more than the others – Zavkhan Trekking.  They accept all levels of experience.  I rode a horse once at camp when I was 12 or so.  There was no hard and fast itinerary.  I’m a fan of the “we’ll get there when we get there” approach.  The dates of the trek were almost perfect for my schedule.  Two days later would have been better, but these were very doable.

It seemed perfect, but there was one more thing to do before I signed up.  Take a horseback riding lesson.