Having woken up and gone to toilet surrounded by an audience of yaks, it was sad to be leaving this very peaceful existence. I thought about family, thinking that anything could have happened and here I was in the middle of nowhere, with no means of communication. It was amazingly refreshing.
We packed up and said farewell. I was offered a bowl of what looked to be milk. Of course it was milk, just not milk as I know it to be… It wasn’t offered to the children as it was Airag, the traditional national beverage of Mongolia. Alcoholic and well, I got a whiff of it and preferred the Yak’s vodka. I nearly didn’t manage to swallow the “sip” I took, and certainly could not have taken 3 bowls of it as is customary.
We left at 10.30am, and at 1.30pm, 85 kms later we hit a tarmac road! We stopped for our picnic lunch made by the family that morning. Eleanor, Khulan, Yondo and I had goat pasties whilst the others had veggie pasties. Prior to lunch, and still on the dirt track, we had begun climbing out of the valley, and were met with this view. The river that had run so clear by our homestay was now a muddy brown colour, but the sky is tremendous. The birds circling (if you look carefully you can see one in the top right hand corner)
The journey was then pretty uneventful, until we got to our final monastery of the trip. At 4pm, we arrived. It was again half way up a mountain, and a little rock climbing was required. 5 monks live there but only use the temples on special occasions.
At 7pm, and after another 11kms off-roading we got to the “eco camp”. Facing south, as all gers doors must, were sand dunes of the “mini Gobi”. About 700+kms away was the real Gobi! Our gers were the most luxurious yet. Two beds, bed side tables with candles, dresser, coffee table, sink, dressing table! The toilets, whilst still a long drop, had a lovely toilet seat over it. There is no electric here, save for at dinner. There are also no showers. This is a camp that leaves no footprint. We had deck chairs to recline on rather than the ground or camp stools!
There were 16 of us in the camp in total. There was a massive yurt where we had dinner of chicken and then tinned fruit. The place was oh so quiet. At 8.40pm, hot towels arrived, we were told that we would be woken up in the morning with fresh ones in lieu of a shower.
Eleanor and I then read by candlelight. We both had torches, but the candles gave us an air of authenticity!
Part 10 – A hair washing experience and more riding – but not horses.