We spent 2 nights in a traditional ger lodge, which is what many nomadic farmers still use today. Nomads who live in the countryside usually uproot 4x a year, in order to find new pastures and to sustain their lifestyle. It was quite surprising to see that the ger lodges are quite common in small towns/villages (even though these people remain settled). It was also nice to see that despite the growing number of apartments/skyscrapers there are still many ger lodges dotted around. Even in the city centre, there are a few random lodges. On the first day, there was a snow storm. The temperature was only about -15/-20 degrees but because of the wind, it was super cold. Dashing to the toilet in the evening was a chore. The second night was actually much colder, around -31 degrees, but because there was no wind it didn’t feel as bad.
The ger lodge itself is quite basic. Nevertheless, it was more than comfortable. It was quite spacious, there were 3 beds, a coffee table and an unplumbed sink (which you just fill with water). Most importantly, there was a traditional fireplace in the middle of the lodge. This is essentially the life of the ger as, without it, you would freeze to death. Maintaining the fire wasn’t an issue during the day. There was a stack of firewood/coal which we had access to and could top the fire up whenever we needed. However, in the middle of the night when we were all asleep and the fire went out, it was coooollllddd!??Fortuitously, the old man who runs the camp does come in at random times to top up the fire.
The toilet cubicles were situated 100-150 metres away. During the day this wasn’t an issue, but at night they did seem to move further and further away. Even though the toilets are basic, they were pleasant enough. It was essentially a port-a-loo built over a massive hole, but it had seat warmers and toilet roll. There’s nothing like a nice blast of cold air on your buttocks to wake you up! ?
As it was winter, there were no activities as it’s so cold. However, we did get introduced to a common indoor game ‘ankle bones games’. They are bones from either goats/sheep and there are various games you can play. There’s usually an area for archery, but the arrows were broken. I doubt we would have had a go anyway, as staying outside for more than 5 minutes was painful.
As part of the camp, all your meals are provided. There’s a kitchen/dining room with a chef who prepares traditional Mongolian meals. The meat of choice for them is mutton. We were pleasantly surprised at the range and type of food. Beforehand, we assumed it was going to be basic rations but it felt like we were in an all-inclusive hotel. After every meal, we were stuffed.
We also found some new friends in the camp. There were about 5/6 dogs and 2 of them had just given birth to puppies. They were super cute. Apparently, the dogs are used for guarding, although we weren’t sure what from as we were essentially in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps in the summer months, there are more threats from animals. I also got to meet a special friend today; Sammy the snowboarder. He was just swooshing around camp on his board. Hopfully, one day we can meet again!
Next stop will be our final destination on this Transmongolian tour; Beijing.