Wednesday, February 2, 2011

August 26-27 Ger Camp in the Terelj Forest

We left in the morning from Ulan Bataar and headed out to Terelj
National Forest. There are several ger (or “guru”) camps out there. One of
them even has putting greens, but fortunately that one was not ours. There
are a few tourist attractions by the side of the road, including an eagle which
Penny held on her arm. That bird had very large talons. There were also
camels to ride, but we were in a bit of a hurry and so I just had Penny take a
picture of me petting one. The sleeping gers in our camp had solid floors
and the traditional felt tent superstructure, but with electric lights. There
was a three-ger restaurant attached to a kitchen building, and a shower and
head facility in another building.

The terrain looked just like the big sky country of Wyoming and
Montana, which is to say it was just beautiful. We walked along the hills
and valleys and enjoyed the scenery. Penny realized one of her longest-held
wishes and rode a Mongolian pony. Sundowners had arranged with a nomad
family for us to visit a “real” ger. It was occupied by a woman and her
grandson. Grandpa was off in the pasture with their animals. A few years
ago, they got solar power and so they had satellite television, lights, and a
refrigerator-freezer. They split their year between this summer ger and a
winter one a few miles away. Their children all live in the city, and the
couple themselves are retired schoolteachers who were born in the
countryside but who worked in Ulan Bataar.

After dinner, we watched an interesting BBC video about Chinggis
Khan. We turned into our gers for a night’s rest, warmed by heavy blankets
and a fairly reliable wood-burning stove.
It is a long walk up to Arpayala Datsan...

 but the view is worth it!
A concept of punishment for doing bad things in this life.

Arpayala Datsan is a sizeable complex.

The next morning was clear and warm. We visited Turtle Rock and a
meditation point at Arpayala Datsan with a stunning view of the valley below. Then we
returned to Ulan Bataar and the Hotel Kharaa. We did a large bit of laundry
which we hung out in the room. We went back to B.D.’s Mongolian
Barbecue to prepare for tomorrow’s overnight rail journey to Beijing. It was
good fun and good food at B.D.’s.

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