We couldn’t pick a better season to camp in one of the coldest cities on earth. At 15 below zero on average, we drove to the campsite situated far far away from the unpleasantness of Ulaanbaatar. The beautiful Mongolian Steppes. We stopped by a Mongolian herdsman’s yurt for noodles and tea only to meet the biggest surprise ever!
An English family.
We recounted our odd experiences on the trans-Siberian (bizarrely enough, they used the same travel agent) over Mongolian beef noodle, milk tea and the cries of newly born goats. I couldn’t resist milk tea, Suutei Tsai. Not any milk tea, this one was salted. I could only handle a few bitter sips. A couple of family photos later and a grand tour of the farm, we drove to our campsite while the English guys struggled to push their lazy Mongolian horses forward. It took them an extra hour.
For dinner, under the starlit sky, we tasted real Mongolian stone roast lamb barbeque “Khorkhog”. Butchered two minutes ago and barbequed on hot rock, which we were advised to massage our faces with, we ate it to the bone. Supposedly, the hot rock had beneficial properties. Whatever benefit it was, it sure wasn’t the stinky smell of a goat farm that haunted us for the next few days.
Each ger was furnished with one sink, a thermal flask (to use the sink), four beds with blankets and sheets, one dressing table, mirror and electrical outlets. The bathroom was a kilometer away (you see the hut behind the Ger in the pic below? Yup. Toilets). I definitely didn’t walk that far.
We spent the second night at a hotel in the city, ran into US Ivy League grad students and the female Moroccan basketball team, and hung around the hotel. There’s nothing like the experience of taking long walks around a city, but there was something about Ulaanbaatar that stifled our curiosity OR we may have run out of steam. Maybe?
Off to Beijing!