13Sep2013

Best… Ger… EVER

Horses, mountains and fresh grass en route to the Darkhad Depression, Mongolia.

This is the view from the best ger ever, a herd of horses passing by, untrimmed manes trailing in the breeze. It is, in fact, the classic Mongolian ger.

Mongolian ger with truck parked beside it.

And this is the ger itself, complete with truck. Like most larger vehicles in rural Mongolia, it seems to be more for the chaps to tinker with than for anyone actually to drive. Eventually, someone will pass through who can fix it. In the meantime, it’s a talking point.

Zac and toddler playing with a truck in a Mongolian ger.

This little guy’s truck does work, however. His hair won’t be cut until he’s safely through early childhood, in a grand ceremony around the age Western children enter nursery or kindergarten. As young children’s toys and clothes are entirely gender-neutral, I only learn his sex when he drops his pants to pee.

Storage chest, trellis framework and possessions in a Mongolian ger. Oh, and a baby.

Non-truck possessions that aren’t stored in the keepsake chest are slotted into the roof poles, or the trellis frame. The cables? They’re for the solar panel.

View from the door of a Mongolian ger.

This is the view that the family wake up to, every day, throughout the summer pasture season. Like most Mongolian gers, the door faces south.

Mongolian toddler eating chocolate spread.

We hand out a tonne of sweets as gifts. But nothing lives up to Baatar’s chocolate spread. And, yes, that spoon did go straight back in the jar. And, no, nobody cared.

Big kid playing with little kid in the ger.

I loved this little guy. He’s eight. He played so sensitively and kindly with the two little kids. He’s wearing surgical boots – polio, I wonder? – but no one treats him differently.

13-y-o Mongolian twins -- and cowboys already.

These guys are thirteen, and twins. Slightly older than Zac, and already full-fledged cowboys, herding sheep, goats, but mainly horses: typically, the sheep and goats are left for younger kids to chase.

Toddler headed off for a walk in the wilderness.

This little tyke is off for a wander, which is what rural Mongolian toddlers do. They (sometimes) cry when they fall over. They occasionally holler when they stray too far from the ger. But I’ve never, ever seen a Mongolian toddler have a tantrum.

Kids playing against a backdrop of laundry, outside a Mongolian ger.

One of the mums has been washing in the ger today, boiling great basins of water over the stove — a thankless, not to say Sisyphean, task. The patriarch? He’s been cutting wood with a power saw, syphoning petrol from the truck, and napping.

Zac making paper aeroplanes outside a Mongolian ger.

Zac shows the little kids how to make paper aeroplanes and flies them. They go down pretty well, not that, in all honesty, the family has paper to waste.

horses grazing against the mountains.

It is, in short, an absolutely splendid ger.

We set up camp late. But once I get a fire built and lit, I feel like Bear Grylls – at least until I burn the toasting sticks Zac’s spent the last half hour whittling…


You can read the first post in this series on our ride to see Mongolia’s Reindeer People here, and the last post here.

4 Comments

  1. Rosa says:

    Hermoso! Fantástico! Gracias!

  2. Tai says:

    Would you dare to put your life on hold and stay with them for one year, detach from the internet, your habits, learn the trade and the language? :) That’s what I ask myself often.
    I haven’t been yet to Darkhad valley, only saw it in this very visually beautiful British doc:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq-GjobWJ_g

    Where are you now, btw?

  3. Nonplussed says:

    I know I will never ever go there so this journey has been a vicarious delight. I had no idea what being within that landscape would be like but you’re evoking it wonderfully in my imagination. Thank you so much.

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