As I mentioned in a previous post, a guide is quite useful when travelling through Mongolia. I decided to travel with a group, and so booked my trip with G Adventures. I have travelled with them before, and for me it really works.
One of the highlights of the trip was the local homestay. Something I feel I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do without being part of a tour. It was such a great way to get to see the lives of the locals, and get to know the country a little bit better.
After travelling across more deserted expanse of amazing scenery we arrived at the family’s ger. A lack of phone signal meant they hadn’t even been pre-warned we were coming, but you would have never have known with the hospitality we received.
Because there were 15 of us on the tour, and the family already slept 6 in their ger, we had brought tents. We set them up nearby and then spent the afternoon learning more about their lives.
Watching them milk the mares was such a beautiful experience. They tie up the foals, so that the mares don’t wander too far. Allow the foals to suckle milk for a moment and then remove them so they can milk. Mongolians use mare’s milk for many things. One of which is Airag, described to me previously as a fizzy, cheesy, alcoholic drink. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was tasty, it definitely wasn’t as bad as I had expected.
For dinner the daughter of the family went to catch one of their sheep from the herd. Our drivers and guide killed and prepared it for us for dinner. It was definitely fresh and every part of the sheep was used. There was small drama when the dog stole the head, and then a hawk tried to steal it.
The family’s ger was very tidy, organised and contained everything they needed. The stove is used for warmth and cooking, and the massive barrel of mares milk was set in the corner.
The evening was just wonderful. We all sat in the cosy cosy ger, the stove was lit, delicious lamb, potato and cabbage dinner was served and the pet goat was wandering around.
As the night progressed more and more vodka was consumed. One of our drivers just kept it flowing! We then tried the home brewed vodka, which had an…. unusual…. taste. Before long we were attempting to sing the Spice Girls to the very bemused Mongolians. In return they sang us some traditional Mongolian songs, much more in tune and much more pleasant!
Spending an evening with the most generous hosts and being allowed a glimpse of their lives was such a honour and a definite highlight of my trip. If you ever get the chance, I can’t recommend it enough.
Waking up the next day a little blurry, opening up our tent and seeing the breathtaking scenery while sitting inside and remembering the antics of the night before with nothing but laughter – perfect memories.