Morning, again the translator person wakes up really late and the owner man has to make the last resort of waking her up; she is very embarrassed about this (lol)
All the old people from the village (head and wife of each family) went to the funeral; it was nice to see the people all dressed up (not in their traditional clothes, but definitely in formal wear, perhaps to the old Soviet style(?)), jump on their horses and make their ways to wherever they were going.
AM, the translator was going to stay, and I go with one of the dudes who came by and slept with us last night (apparently his family is moving here today), the son of this ger up to the mountains where they take care of animals grazing. So this mountain looked really high from the ground, so I was a little bit worried about the walk (especially if he makes this walk every single day…I would not be able to catch up with him), but we are apparently riding horses up there.
So it’s going to be much more comfortable, but I am not an expert in horse riding (yesterday was pretty much the first time I was riding a horse free style by myself), and climbing a high mountain on a horse…(?). The thought kind of terrified me, and our journey only amplified this horror.
The path upwards reminded me of a scene from the documentary, The Tea and Horse Road, which runs from western Yunnan/Sichuan to Northern India, through the Himalayas; basically, the narrator of the documentary was saying how there is only a narrow path throughout this whole road, and sometimes, the horse or a person slips and falls down the cliff and forever disappears. This case, well, I probably would not disappear forever, but there was a very narrow pathway…perhaps narrow for even one person to walk comfortably; and beyond that was a cliff…
So we rode for about an hour and a half maybe…and we went above the clouds (good thing since it didn’t rain up there). You could see the whole village from the top, rocky mountain tops, and between the mountains were very big pasture lands, and the sheep and goats were grazing there. And this, although very thrilling (Kazakh dudes were so chill about it, I guess it must be not that dangerous…), it ended up being one of the most beautiful things I have seen in Mongolia (and I have travelled to most of the places in Mongolia famous for their scenary)…
One thing though was that my butt (and the crotch area) started to hurt a lot…By watching the other guys, I guess the secret is to kind of sit with one of your hip for half a minute or so to relieve the pressure on your ass, but this I was not completely comfortable to do yet…
One funny thing is that on top of this mountain, there is a cellphone signal. (oh, Mongolia…you make people come up…this…high???), and the two guys were making phone calls here.
Also men packed yogurt/other dairy products, so they can drink them when hungry… This is how they conquered the world, eh?
On top of the mountain, we met a neighbor guy who was herding his animals. One guy from yesterday went to make a more private phone call (maybe to his girlfriend? Lol), and I exchanged some basic words with the neighboring guy in small Mongolian I knew. Then, we played a game where we all started with 10 stones. Every round, all of us choose some stones, and we guess the number of stones held in all the players’ hands. The winner takes all the stones from the round. Like this, we go until someone loses all of his stones. (you can do “empty hand” for 3 rounds before losing completely actually).
And I lost. The guy said the punishment for the next round’s loser was to herd all the goats and sheep back to where we were lying down and playing games (they were about to cross a peak on the other side of the mountain at this point, and if they all moved over we would have had to all go and either sit by them or bring them over). This was an exciting opportunity, I almost lost, but then the sheep was already passing the peak and it looked like it was raining a lot in the lower land. So I and the young guy came down, while the two men decided to stay up.
Way down, I was more worried about, because people tend to slip more easily when descending (and horses can’t be exception). We descended a bit, talking. He is apparently 17 years old, goes to school in Olgii. In the upcoming year, he will be a college student studying dentistry in Olgii. He also said that he is a basketball champion.
Good thing though is that about halfway down, when we are about to enter the thrilling region with narrow path that I have discussed above, we got off the horse and walked. It was a good walk, but it started to pour more as we were going down, and I was completely soaked.
In small ger, where there is fire. The lady gave me and the translator warm milk (overheated, so it was kind of sweet…due to the burned off scrapes from the pot), tea, and we talked about how some Koreans can’t digest milk (lactose intolerance), and how some people like to only eat plants (vegetarian). She told me that when Kazakhs were watching Korean dramas (apparently Jumong was the most popular thing that ever came out of TV or something), all the old people (who hate rice and cabbage) were saying: “wow, why are they not eating any meat? They are only eating rice and cabbage and grass (maybe referring to namul, or soup)!”. Well, Kazakhs and Mongolians hate things that we like to eat, but they are really bigger, stronger, and taller…
Then we sang as punishment. I sang (again) Jindo Arirang, the other people sang the songs that I heard on the bus. The girl brought dombra, played it while singing.
And we ate goat meat, horse meat, and rice drenched in salt and oil.
Yogurt you apparently make by adding a bit of yogurt from last night to warm (not hot) milk). I guess this is basically growing the bacteria culture in warm environment.. I asked where they get the first yogurt (how do they make it anyways???), and they responded, saying that they always have yogurt…In winter they freeze it, so they can just melt it and have yogurt all the time, and when summer comes, make yogurt. But where do they get the first yogurt??? They apparently don’t know…(maybe I have to ask an older woman).
Just relaxed afternoon, partly because of the rain; they say that it didn’t rain much before we came, but it’s been raining pretty much every day since I came here. They say it is good for the animals, but annoying for the herders/nomads who can’t use (nonexistent) dried dung, and woods become too dark
Asked about Mongolia in communist time, educational system, etc… The translator said that Socialist Mongolia was the happiest times of her life!
She also asked me if it is really true that people are starving to death in some places (as seen on TV). I have no idea, but I said probably… Mongolia is ranked really low in the statistics, but life quality is very high in the countryside especially; people have plenty of food, clothes, houses (basically all coming from the animals), and they are extremely happy, and fat oftentimes… So I really don’t know if other places ranked low, too, are like Mongolia or what…(because some popular conceptions of Mongolia are that of pity….)
An animal doctor came because apparently (as they heard at the funeral) there is a poisonous grass in the mountains that has killed an animal the night before, and he has vaccine. So after milking cows and sheep/goats, the doctor vaccinated each animal.
The dinner was khaz again, which was quiet good.
After that we drank. The translator lady said it is because today a lot of relatives and friends are coming, and they all know her as teacher from the secondary school no.2, and she can’t let people know that the teacher drinks! And we are leaving the day after tomorrow, so it is custom to drink, as the guests offer to the host.
Some funny stories by the man: he has been hosting since 2000
A british doctor man, who brought four servants with him, and broke his finger while riding the horse (the strongest horse of the family failed to hold him for over five kilometers), when the man helped him fit the bone, the British doctor would not believe him and organize his own meeting (it was December so they were in the winter house), call UB, and try to get a surgery. The man is very bewildered, and also humiliated (lol)
Some foreigners are rich, some are just students like me
People here are amazingly hospitable, in how they treat the guests and also of the foreigners. Uncomparable to the other parts of the county that I have visited before… Perhaps the purity of it
Anyways drank four bottles… and the translator woman got pretty tipsy