Blog written by Inge, Annika and Akira
This morning, after a lovely, warm evening’s sleep, we headed out for our last day of horse riding. With sore backs and bums, we crawled back onto our horses, terrified of the 35km we would have to cover to get to our lunch/camp site. It was certainly an interesting day from the word “Go”, since Akira’s horse tripped and she fell forward off her horse and got a cut across her eyelid. Gaynor (our team doctor) proved her worth though, and stitched her up without a problem and we were off once more.
It was tough going, with a lot of trotting, which was generally decided to be the worst form of horse riding – we all preferred walking or galloping. A few of us such as Gaynor, Moose and Roswitha (not to mention any names) opted to walk the last bit instead. With miles of open, rocky planes behind us, and a beautiful, green oasis (which we weren’t sure was real or a mirage) looming ahead, we finally approached our camp and lunch site. We had an awesome lunch of rice and chicken curry, and got a chance to relax and rest our aching backsides, and admire the beautiful view of sand dunes, mountains with fascinating formations and camels doing camel things. Once the horses had also recovered from the long day’s riding, we had a little competition amongst ourselves and we got to give our horses a go and really see what they had under the hood. It was so much fun racing against each other with the wind beating our faces and whipping through our hair, and feeling the raw power of the horses as we pushed them on towards the finish line.
We were later presented with a sort of first aid course, during which Gaynor gave us a demonstration on how to insert a needle for an IV tutbe – strictly voluntarily! After some successful and other less successful attempts, we all finally succeeded (though I think Gaynor lost quite a bit of blood with the exercise). Our photo competition for the day was themed “People” and after dinner we had a photo analysis session and the winner for the day was chosen. Nicci won the photo of the day, with her human-horse photo. The winners for the previous two days photo themes were also finally chosen after much deliberation, since there were too many excellent photos and our “judges” didn’t know which to pick. Tirza was named the winner for her photo of vegetation, and Annika, Inge, Akira and Constantin were all declared winners for their landscape photos.
Tomorrow we start trekking with camels, and though none of us are sure whether this will be more or less painful than the horses, we know that we’ll all miss our four-legged horsy friends. So, with the soothing sound of the silence that you only get in places as remote as these, we are off to bed to prepare for our camel-packed adventures tomorrow.
The extreme continental climate has affected the traditional diet, so the Mongolian cuisine primarily consists of dairy products, meat, and animal fats. Use of vegetables and spices is limited.
Normadic herders live directly from their own animal products. Meat is either cooked, used as an ingredient for soups or dumplings or dried for winter. A lot of animal fat is eaten so the people can withstand cold winters and their hard work.
The most common and famous dishes in Mongolia are: Boodog (whole carcass of a goat roasted from the inside), Khorkhog ( meat cooked with hot stones) and last but not least Buuz ( steamed filled pockets with meat ) which is cooked on every special occasions.
One of thee famous drinks is Airag. This is a fermented mare’s milk that has an alcohol content of about 3%. Many Mongolians distil it further to produce shimiin arkhi and get it up to 12%.