Italian themed weekend and Horse riding in Terelj
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 02/Feb/2010 12:48, 34 days ago
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The last two weeks have been a little bit more eventful than anticipated! With 3 proposals due in and training on Fundraising to give to VSO volunteers I got a nasty bout of food poisoning. For the first time ever I actually had no choice but to work through it as everything was on my work computer. It wasnt a fun week but all the proposals got done and everyone was happy. Fingers crossed we will find out soon!Last weekend was busy with the usual social events including pasta night and pizza night! It was an Italian themed weekend! I think we now have a winner for the best pizza recipe as Belinda cooked up a storm followed by a great chocolate cake!Last week was just as busy, although I managed to avoid the food poisoning thank goodness. Myself and 2 other VSO fundraisers had agreed to do two half day trainings for the other volunteers on fundraising as most volunteers end up getting asked to do fundraising. By the time Thursday morning rolled round I was sick to my back teeth of reading and re-reading my powerpoints, but the process had allowed me to learn how much I have learned in the last 3.5 months and how much I still have to learn!However once the nerves settled down, and I got some cake into me (provided by my colleagues) the training went very well. Everyone seemed very happy with the training, from the other volunteers to the VSO staff everyone learnt something.As I was shattered from the previous 2 weeks of working nearly non-stop, I had planned a quiet weekend. It just didnt happen!On Saturday I had agreed to grab some coffee with some friends. We went to a great Buddist cafe called Stupa Cafe that did amazing apple cake! The girls invited me to join them at the Opera, and as I hadnt been before and I was assured that smart dress was not required I joined them to see Tosca. It was my first ever Opera and I was pretty impressed. One of the male singers wasnt terribly strong, but the female and the other male singer were fantastic. Unfortunately as we were in the cheap seats, there were about 20 school children in with us and they were very loud and boisterous, and there were no Ushers to keep them quiet! Of course once the Opera (which starts at 5pm here for some reason) was over we had to go for dinner! It was a great evening and I was really glad to have gotten out of the house and to have caught up with some other volunteers.Sunday dawned far to early for my liking! Sarah had organised a horse riding trip in Terelj for the day and two American guys joined us. It was a little chilly (around -30 in the morning, raising to -20 in the afternoon) so of course we had about 7 layers on each half of our bodies and we could barely move! We had a few quick stops for gas, at Turtle rock and at an Ovoo before we reached our base for the day. It was decided we would do 3 short rides with periods to warm up in between at different camps. Our first trip took us out to a shaman religious tree which was very interesting, but the scenery we were seeing was also fabulous. After a quick warm up we headed to our guides sisters house where we had a traditional Mongolian Barbeque - Khorhog. This is mutton, carrots and potatoes cooked with hot stones inside it and it was really tasty and tender. Over lunch I received a great compliment - I was told I was a very strong rider! Although I would hope so after the number of years I have ridden, in Mongolia horse riding is a very big deal and this was a big compliment from a Mongolian herder! After lunch we played with the families baby who was very cute, and Sarah and I played with their lambs! It was something we would never do at home, but these were Mongolian lambs and calves (0ne of whom was wearing a very cute blanket)and so we had our picture taken with them.From here we headed to visit the sled dogs who are kept near by. When we arrived there some of our friends who had been out dog sledding for the past 2 days which was apparently fantastic (but at $250 a little out of our budget!). It was nice to see them and their sleds and dogs.On our way back to our base camp we got a few longer spaces for a canter and had a nervewraking experience where we allowed our horses to drink from holes in the ice. This is terrifying when you can hear the ice cracking underneath you! In fact it is one of the scariest parts of riding on the frozen rivers. But the cars drive on these rivers, we saw yaks pulling carts of logs and when we saw the holes being cut in the ice to get water, it is incredibly think. The chances of us falling through the ice were minimal.It was a day of contrasts from the open spaces, hills, woods and river riding we did it was fantastic. Although two days later all my muscles are still protesting!