Saturday, 16 October 2010

Day 6 of the Mongolia Tour (20th of August)

Before we left the dunes we gained an extra passenger in our van, a 17 year old boy off to study mining in Ulaanbaatar in the need of a lift to Arvayheer to catch an onward bus. He looked rather small and somewhat nervous. His mother threw milk at the vans out of a green plastic cup as we left, this was to bring us good luck on our journey. Duuya told us that people in the countryside are given the same level of education as those in the city.

The boy seemed quite fascinated by the land bumping past and glanced over his shoulder to see the dunes for the last time. He excitedly pointed to a statue of an ibex as we went through a steep sided valley – the Mongolian version, and less well known, Cheddar Gorge. We stopped in a small town and trooped into a restaurant where we sat and ate cabbage and carrot dumplings that Duuya had prepared the day before. Everyone else had some kind of minced meat in theirs. The Mongolian boy was helping with cleaning the dishes and earning his passage.

After a lot of driving we found ourselves on a paved road which was quite the treat, it being the first one we’d come across since Ulaanbaatar. We knew we must have been nearing the town and soon stopped at a horse worship site. There was a big horse statue and rows of horse skulls. People seemed to enjoy leaving sweets as an offering to the horse gods. Three picturesque old ladies in traditional attire shuffled around carefully looking at everything. In the town showers were had for the first time in six days, misunderstandings arose and the rest us were given supper of three dumplings each.

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