Kids I Got to Know in Mongolia

It's a very different travel experience for me, during the trip to Mongolia. I've been backpackers that stayed in youth hostels; I've been with my husband on leisure trip that we stayed in good hotel and traveled leisurely; I've been with my big family and traveled like a mini tour group. But, I've never stayed with a family, and attached to them for entire trip. Did whatever they did, stayed wherever they stayed.

But because of this, I've got to see how the Mongolians life are. And, I've got to know some Mongolian kids too.

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Mogi, a girl I met at Naadam Festival

The Mongolian family that I've stayed with couldn't get tickets for Naadam Festival at Ulaanbaatar. However, I felt good that they didn't manage to get, because it's so much more fun to join Naadam Festival in the rural place. Even though it's a much smaller scale, but we got to see everything much closer. And it's not as commercial, as I'm pretty sure we're the only foreigners there!

We've traveled to Jargalt Khan for Naadam. A place that I can't even find to pin on my travel map. Kids are generally curious about us because we're obviously foreigners that don't understand them. However, there was this particular girl, Mogi, who was exceptionally brave. While we were watching wrestling, she asked with a timid voice:"Where are you from?" We continued the conversation, a bit here and there. Her English wasn't good, but for a 13year old girl, in such a rural place, and carried a good few minutes conversation, I salute her! The next day, we met again at a local party at community hall, she's much confident the second time, and approached me again. We've exchanged email address to add each other on Facebook, but somehow, I couldn't find her. I guess, she couldn't find me too.

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Banbo and Iso

Banbo is the grandson of a friend of my host family. Iso, the happy girl in the picture, is a mysterious girl in the house, that I have no idea of her relationship with Banbo, most likely they're not really related but just family friends who happened to be there when we were there. Iso started conversation with us, but we have no idea at all. She asked the adults and understood that we're from Malaysia. Then, we started some sign language and some nonsense conversation. The only thing we understood each other was the name. But still, it's fun.

After Iso left, Banbo was stuck with us for two days. Because we stayed with them for 2 days 2 nights. The longest conversation I had with Banbo was when we watched Mongolian dubbed Cars. When McQueen is out, we'll say McQueen! McQueen! When Mater is out, we'll say Mater! Mater! He's the little teacher who taught me animals in Mongolian with his book. I've forgotten most of them, but important ones like cows, camels, sheep etc, I can still remember. I learned that cars are called "machine" in Mongolian, from Banbo too!

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Banbo never know how to smile for camera

There is a picture of Banbo in long hair, being tied up in the living room, that I mistakenly thought Banbo has a sister! Apparently, boys in Mongolia do not cut their hair until they're 4. They'll have their hair shaved. As for girls, I can't remember the age, probably 3. And, something odd, before they shave, the hair was very light brown in color, almost blond for some. But after they shaved, the hair is darker brown.

I don't understand, but it's really cute.


Transport to Terelj National Park

I would say that going to Terelj from Ulaanbaatar wasn't that difficult. Well, of course, you'll have to expect some traveling time in this wide land. But the fact that there are straight bus from Ulaanbaatar which you do not have to worry about transiting, I think that's good enough.

Copied from Lonely Planet:
The road from Ulaanbaatar to Terelj, which goes through part of the national park, is in pretty good nick. A bus departs at 4pm from Durvun Zam and goes to the centre of the park, a few kilometres past the turn-off to Turtle Rock. The same bus comes back directly to UB. The cost is T1500 each way.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/mongolia/central-mongolia/terelj-area/transport/getting-there-away#ixzz2bC06lN00

We took this particular bus into Terelj National Park. However, when we left, we took a van. It wasn't a public transport, just a normal van, drove by the villager to pick up locals or travelers to go somewhere called Mid Station. From Mid Station, we could take a public bus to Ulaanbaatar, which was only 1.5hour away, at T800 per person.
The capacity of a normal van in city is 15 people, maximum. However, in Mongolia, this same van managed to squeeze in 20 people (or more!!!), with some luggage. Therefore, if you could, ask a local, get to the first pick up point to wait for the van. Take the last row in the van so that you won't be squeezed to death. Or asked to sit at someone's lap etc.
The van runs every 2 hours from 8am.

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First pick up point

There's no way I can tell you exactly where's the first pick up point. I do my best by showing you how it look like. It's within the village Zagaan Temeet.

I had so much doubt in whether the van would ever come. Unexpectedly, it turned up on time and got us to our destination safely :)

Wildlife Spotting in Terelj

In this very scarce land of Mongolia, there wasn't many wildlife you could easily spot. The easiest would be small birds, mouse, squirrel and eagles. There are wolves and bears too, but it's not often that you could run into them. And if, you're very very very very (x infinity) lucky, you might see a snake. At least that's what the locals told us.

We saw birds and mouse every single day when we're in Terelj. Spotted some different species mouse in Gobi too but it was night time, I didn't take pictures. And saw birds nest underground in Jargalt Khan (future post).

Not that I've never seen a squirrel in my life, but spotting them always make me feel happy. What more those staying under ground. (OK, I am not even sure if they're squirrels. I initially thought they're meerkats) (My friend had corrected me, this is not a squirrel, but a marmot!) =)

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Being wary

These shy animals always tried to stay a constant distance from me. This is the nearest I can take a shot. They didn't run away from me, but if I took a step forward, it'll move backward a little. At the constant distance they tried to keep, I respected that and stayed at my spot.

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Upside down

This "hao lian" little fellow was showing out its acrobatic skills by eating its favourite nuts upside down in the woods. It actually kept this pose for a long time. Until I, standing upright couldn't take it anymore.

I know I know, there's nothing to shout about for spotting a squirrel. But I'm really glad that I have rented a zoom lens to take this! Worth the work :)




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我们站在那里等着买牛奶的时候,最痛苦的事情,就是赶苍蝇,而不是牛屎。牛屎羊屎马屎,遍地草原都是,去了一天草原,也就见惯不惯。况且,大概是因为这里的动物都是吃草的,而不是吃饲料的,大便也没啥味道。 苍蝇,是最破坏草原美感的事情。明明想站在那里欣赏美景,可是偏偏苍蝇都围着你飞。我们四位,站在那里,手不停地挥动着。远远看我们,好像跳舞一样。

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把牛奶扛回家,生火把它烧滚杀菌,就可以喝了!这新鲜的牛奶实在是太香太浓,我很喜欢,一口气喝了两大杯!我们喝剩的,就会用来制作牛油和乳酪。吃的喝的,都是天然的产品,没有化学添加物。真好!在这里多住几天大概会很健康! :)



First Experience Staying in Ger

It's not a trip to Mongolia without staying in ger! It's all in my plan, that I MUST get myself into a ger, and yeah, I made it! Of course, with friends' help.

We've managed to stay in a ger in Terelj National Park (I'll talk about the transportation in next post). As we were traveling around Naadam Festival, the accommodations were all over priced. But what to do, so we stayed anyway.

Luckily our Mongolian friends have a car, we were driving around to search for a suitable ger. Some are pretty expensive, some are really dirty. And finally we're here! A decent one!

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Ger Camp

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Ger is a really brilliant design. Look at the walls, they are pre-made walls, which were then tied up together to form  a circle. It depends on how big is the ger, it could be made from 3-8 walls. The two center poles are the supporting structures. The fire place was in the middle, and the smoke was directed out to the ring roof. So, we got to keep warm at night, at the same time stay away from the smokes.
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Keeping us warm

The fire went off pretty fast, averagely 1-2hours. However, I am a deep (or "dead") sleeper, I didn't wake up entirely throughout the night. So, whoever shared the ger with me, and felt the cold had to wake up to add the woods. While I felt warm for the whole night long.

Remember I said there's no proper toilet in rural places? Well, if you were to stay in this particular ger camp, you will get to have one.

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Future posh toilet

It wasn't ready when I was there. I went in anyway, and found that the toilet bowls were installed but not connected. I do not know how are they going to connect to sewage system, I didn't even know if there's any. But looking at this, this is the most high end toilets you will ever get in this area.

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Wash basin

It's such a wonderful experience to stay in the ger. When we're resting in the ger waiting for the lunch to be served, horses were running outside the ger. We can hear them galloping. When I went out to check it out, I saw horses, horses and horses.

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Galloping their way

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Very handsome horses

The most wonderful moment, was the morning, when I woke up, horses and cows are just next to our ger. Well, basically all around our ger. Munching their delicious grass, ignoring me completely. I took my chair to sit outside the ger, having them as my company as I wrote my travel diary. I have no words to describe how it felt, it's really just GREAT!

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Horses as my company
My friend woke up and took a picture of me and the horses.

This decent ger is located in the village in Terelj National Park, Zagaan Temeet. The camp name is Shijiz Camp. And the owner is Aetandnimeg (+976-99084445). The lady boss speaks English. There's also a small signboard in English outside the camp. According to my Mongolian friend, as long as there's English, the price is more expensive. Well, I believe in that.

It's 80,000 Tughrik per night, which is about USD55. Perhaps if you're traveling at other season, you could get a better price.