17th October
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 19/Oct/2009 08:31, 34 days ago
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After a rubbish nights sleep where my body decided it was morning at 2.30am, we headed out of Ulaanbaatar to a local national park, Terelj. A number of other volunteers also joined us which was great as we got to hear all about their experiences in the months they have been here. It took about an hour to get there on interesting roads. Becuase of the freezing and thawing the roads are pretty cracked so it makes them a little bumpy but it wasn’t too bad. The scenery out of the windows was fantastic. Ulaanbaatar is surrounded by hills/mountains and they were all covered in snow which made it look a bit magical. There were also a few gers on the way out which were puffing smoke out of their roofs.Our first stop in Terelj was at an Ovoo which is a religious offering place which we correctly walked around 3 times to show our respect. There was also a camel and a couple of Mongolian horses there for tourists to ride, which we avoided. On the road through Terelj we came across a number of herd of animals being herded by Mongolians on horseback. The horses are very small, more like ponies, but seem very hardy! There are also strange cattle which are a cross between a yak and a cow.Our second stop was at turtle rock which is, as it sounds like, a massive rock that looks like a turtle. We climbed up it and played in the snow and took some more pictures.It was lunch time next and we were fed by a local woman in one of the tourist gers. This was our first time in a ger and the older volunteers explained the rules such as you do not stand on the threshold, you walk clockwise around the ger and you do not lean on the poles. Although it was made of canvas apparently and not felt, it was surprisingly warm inside with the fire going. We also got to eat some of our first Mongolian food– curdled milk and tsai (milky, salty tea) neither of which were great, and then deep fried meat parcels which were really good! It seems I shall not starve in Mongolia.From there we headed to the old monastery. There was a big snowball fight among the male volunteers and the children! One of the female volunteers did remark on how nice it was to have more women arrived in Ulaanbaatar! The monastery was beautiful and really Asian in style. When I was preparing to come to Mongolia I hadn’t really considered Mongolia a part of Asia, but it is right beside China and is obviously part of Asia. The Monastery was really nice and beautiful colours and a nice way to end the day.We then headed back to Ulaanbaatar on the bus, and a number of us slept and we had dinner in again before watching a movie and heading to bed.