July 11, 2009

7/11/09 Ger Camp west of Ulaanbaatar

Well, after 10 months in Mongolia, I'm finally getting a chance to see the Mongolian countryside. Five of us from the center, Gyatso, Glenda, Glenda's friend Fran from Australia, and Fran's daughter Lily and myself, are part of a group that includes our guides, Altan & Bysa, their two kids, plus a friend of Bysa from his army days along with their family, and two Americans, David and Judith along with their driver. The plan is to drive in a clockwise direction through the countryside to Lake Khovsgol and then back.

We loaded up the car, our trusty four-wheel drive Nissan rental, and left after lunch. There was a ton of traffic because this was the first day of Nadaam. All along the streets, there was a definite festive air even though it was overcast and threatening rain. We met the other vehicles outside of the city and drove on the highway for a couple more hours.

Loading up the car, ready to hit the road

Finally, the Mongolian countryside

A good omen for the start of our trip

Glenda and Fran spent a lot of time catching up on the news from back home in Australia. Lily, Fran's 12-year-old daughter, is a delight to travel with. Everything is wonderful in her eyes.

It had rained on and off all day but when we arrived at the ger camp, we were blessed by a rainbow.

The Mongolian landscape is awe inspiring - mountains covered with green but we didn't see any trees all day. Looking forward to blue skies.

Our ger camp

Our goal the first day was a ger camp. These are organized camps where you stay in a ger, the yurt-like felt tent that Mongolians traditionally use as a house, while having access to meals at the main building. The ger's have two beds (but later we found out you can get even larger gers), table and chairs, and a stove/heater. Light and ventilation come from an opening in the top. Actually, really nice.

The American couple we are traveling with are David and Judith from the Seattle area (Port Angeles). They are in their late 60s and besides having a long career in the US Parks Service, they were in the Peace Corps twice.