Today was hectic stop,eat,hectic,waiting for missing people,hectic,eat,wait,follow me, my feet hurt, a typical tour arrangement. Yesterday we visited the Terelj National Park and were astounded by the rock formations and beauty of the park. Turtle rock is considered one of the most well known.Unlike in our parks, here there are extensive camps for holiday makers, cows and cattle roam freely and the nomadic people are allowed to use it for their animals ,so beware of presents on the ground. Mongolian people are all given 700 hectares of land when they are born to do with as they wish. This includes parts of the park.
From the park ,we visited a traditional family. We arrived at milking time but were invited to try mare’s milk, homemade creamy butter or a cheese. From the grimaces on the faces of those who tried the milk and cheese, I had wisely chosen the butter. The son of the family showed us around. School aged children are sent to boarding school or to stay with family during school terms.
Our accommodation was a yurt at one of the camps. The fire was lit, the beds were cosy, the hospitality excellent. To wake to the quiet and serenity of the park, you can understand their popularity. There is something magical about the sun rising and creeping across frost glistening grass, yurts and a horse grazing.
Another day starts with rice and milk, soup, or omelette. Then we were off to visit the oldest surviving Buddhist monastery, the Gandan Monastery. From here we visited the mandatory factory outlet……a good one though with fabulous cashmere jumpers and scarves. More food! I am starting to feel like I’m Hansel and Gretel and being fattened up.
Sukhabaatar square is the main meeting area opposite Parliament House. The building is magnificent with gold, glass and white stone work. Ghengis Khan sits majestically in the centre, flanked on either side by statues of the horseman he led.
Visiting the National museum ensured we were aware of Mongolian history. The traditional lifestyle and traditional dress has changed little over time…..just become easier with the advent of solar and wind generators, phones and cars. Animals are still herded on horseback but the family takes produce to the market by car, not cart.
Our evening was spent at a folk show…now don’t cringe, it was awesome. The dancing was spectacular and represented the different cultural groups. They even had a contortionist.Traditional instruments and singers performed individually or in groups, with a finale from the National Ensemble which consists of 36 traditional instruments. We all smiled as we recognised familiar tunes.
People in the square in national dress.
Goodbye Mongolia, the train is here . We are greeted with Champagne and caviar and attendants in smart uniforms.