I thought that if I gave myself a week to let our trip to Mongolia sink in in my head I would have an easier time deciding what to say about it, but that hasn’t happened, so I hope you’re comfortable – this could take a while.
The flight to Ulaan Baatar only took 2 hours (which made it the shortest flight we’ve taken since we moved here), and we were blown away by the blue skies immediately.
If only we’d known what would await us! Turns out Ulaan Baatar is a pretty nasty, gritty place.
Thankfully the countryside more than made up for it!
Our camp was 17 km off the main highway, which was a paved road with massive potholes every few yards, which essentially made it a one lane road for much of the - sometimes harrowing – drive. It took us about 3 1/2 hours to arrive at the camp, but it was totally worth it. It was amazing.
We spent the first afternoon down by the river.
The kids enjoyed throwing rocks into the river, which astonishingly only resulted in one head injury (Naomi’s head, which we had to treat with a semi-cold can of tuna due to the lack of ice at the camp).
On day two we hiked around the countryside and watched the horses play by the river.
Naomi befriended everyone she met, including the janitor and the camp’s cat Ginjee . . .
After all of this activity the kids slept great – and didn’t wake up when the sun started to shine into our ger at 3:30am!
To be honest, we all slept well after a long night of Uno and Mongolian vodka in the dining room!
The cozy fireplace also helped.
On Sunday Will and I scheduled a horseback ride with a local herder. Our friends had gone out the day before and galloped around with the herder and his friend, helping move their cattle from one spot to another. Unfortunately that same herder was somehow injured on Sunday and could not come to take us out. The camp director called another herder, who arrived a short time later with two horses and one saddle.
He explained to the camp director that we would have to walk 2km to pick up a second saddle, which was still going to leave us with two horses and three riders, so Will ended up being led around by the herder while I walked beside them and took pictures. On the bright side, Will didn’t realize his friend had had a more exciting ride the day before!
And on the even brighter side, Naomi was able to ride this horse too.
And pet it!
Afterwards both kids agreed that this was the best day ever.
The trip ended up being everything we hoped it would be and more. We had a great time with our friends, the kids worked off months worth of excess energy – hell, we ALL did – and it was just such a nice break from the stresses and pollution of Beijing. The *only* disappointment was that the moon was so full and so bright we weren’t able to see as many stars as we wanted to, but no worries. I am already thinking about planning next year’s trip during a new moon!