After debating a while as to whether or not to leave Mongolia early for Beijing on the Sunday train, on account of my arm, we decided to stay another week in Mongolia and take another trip out to Terelj national park. The park is about 80k north of UB, and we signed up for a three day/two night trip. On the morning of our departure it was snowing – even UB looks pretty under a blanket of snow – and we drove out of the city in the peaceful early morning before the street became jam packed with loud, erratic traffic.
The park was a lot more touristy than the other places we had been with lots of tourist ger camps and even a golf resort, but we again stayed with a family in their extra ger. We learned while visiting the Mongolian History Museum that a prosperous family has all 5 national animals of Mongolia, sheep, goats, cows, horses and camels. This was a very prosperous family as they has all 5, and while visiting them in their family ger, we also noticed that they had a TV, satellite dish, computer, microwave and washing machine. We were hence surprised when we wer shown to our ger and it was in pretty bad condition. We got pretty good at sousing out the quality of a ger upon arrival after spending 12 nights in them. This one had holes in the sides and was very drafty. We knew that we’d be in for a cold night.
We got a fire going and relaxed in the ger until after lunch and decided to brave to cold and go for a walk. After we got a couple feet away the kid who had been taking care of yelled out, “horse?”. Two hours of horse riding a day was included in out trip so we decided to go for it (broken arm and all). The kid saddled up a couple horses, lots of yelling ensued between family members and we finally took off for our ride with the 16 year old son of the family. We got off to somewhat of a rough start with the kid changing his mind as to which direction we should go and him getting frustrated with me because I couldn’t control my horse very well. Mongolian horses are semi-wild and therefore don’t always abide when you pull on the reigns and you end up going in a lot of circles.
We explored the hills of the park, beautifully blanketed in snow and started to enjoy or ride once we were able to control our horses a bit and trekked along at a nice pace until my horse decided it would stop for a bite to eat. Down the horses head went for a piece of grass and then down I went right over its head, onto the ground, landing right on my broken arm. Lucky for me Mongolia horses are short and the fall was not hard. I was pretty shaken up, and the horse got spooked and charged Stuart’s horse. The kid was amazing adept at calming the horse down. He tightened the saddle (thats the last time they let the 1o year old do that job) and had me climb back on the horse after assuring me that it was in fact a ‘good horse’.
We finished finished our ride around sunset and took our frozen toes back to the ger to warm up and enjoy another “Mongolian” flavored dinner. The night was freezing cold as predicted, but we powered through.
The next morning we were joined in our ger by another couple who we promptly filled in on ger living, us being experts and all by now. Stuart and I passed on the horse riding. I didn’t think that my arm could take it anymore. The weather being a lot more enjoyable, we decided to go on a couple hikes and check out the cool rock formations and forests of the park.
We walked until sunset, which was awesome.