It had been dark when we arrived at the home of the ‘bath lady’ in Oglii so it was interesting to investigate our surroundings in the morning. The sky was heavily overcast with a little light rain falling off and on but the wind of the previous two days was all but gone.
The small compound was filled with our vehicles. Our rooms were in the buildings on the left, the brown building at the far end housed the kitchen and the room where we ate.
It was a slow start to the morning. Items that had been blown around the day before were being looked for and found, sometimes stuffed in the most unusual of places. Socks, gloves, jackets, thermals, you name it… these were anywhere other than where they used to be, or indeed, where they might have been expected to be. In the panic of the wind storm, they’d been stuffed just anywhere to prevent them from being blown away any further and lost.
Our accommodation was in this dusty street, little more than a back lane way. Just out of view, in this photo, lying beside a lamp post, was a goat’s head. I can’t understand why it wasn’t eaten; everything else is!
Further along the street, some colour brightened up what was a dismal part of the town.
The plan for the day was to drive out to a National Park and do some walking. But, first, we needed permits to enter. All of our passports were collected and taken away to who knows where. This takes time in Mongolia, so we headed for the centre of town, firstly to visit the National Museum and then to fill in some more time with a little extra last minute shopping.
Now shopping costs money as we all know… or a valid credit card. I can’t remember whether I mentioned earlier that, unbeknown to me at the time, my credit card was hacked a day or two before I left Australia. The first thing I knew about it was when I received an email from my bank asking if I’d bought a pair of shoes in the States. No! I hadn’t. And I’d told the bank where I would be and when… the USA was not on that list.
By the time I received the bank’s email, I was in China and I soon found that fixing that sort of thing was not as easy as I would have hoped. My return email to the bank did not sanction the purchase, of course, and so my card was immediately cancelled, of course. So no credit card! Fortunately both the Chinese and Mongolian tours were all paid for so the only cash I needed was for incidentals and a few tips. I had enough USD and AUD to cover those expenses. In China I’d had no problems as the banks were able to help me. However, in Mongolia, except for in UB, the situation was slightly different. And by the time we got to Oglii, I’d run out of Mongolian money. I needed some more.
The saga of the money began in Oglii the day we went to the market. I finally found a bank that could/would change foreign currency notes. Just as I got to the teller, the power went off. Therefore, no money transactions possible. So now, while in the town centre, I went to the bank next to the museum and… again the power went off. I went back after the museum visit to find the bank closed… it was lunchtime. Oh, well, who needs money anyway?
After our sortie into town we went back to the ‘bath lady’s’ house and had lunch; soup and dry bread. After lunch we were ready to set off on our travels again but not before a quick stop at a supermarket for some last minute nibbles and snacks. It was 15.00 by now. A late start!
Not far out of town we made an unscheduled stop in this valley. Why? There was a nomad lying in a gully just off the side of the road. Was he dead or alive? His trusty horse and eagle were waiting nearby for their owner to sober up. He’d obviously enjoyed the Eagle Festival.
By now, it was blowing a gale again, so there was no chance of camping by the lake that we were heading for. Instead, we prevailed upon a group of nomads and ended up being shared around a few families for the night.
Michael and I ended up together again in a flat roofed house that had about 6 rooms. We were shown our room; large with rugs on the floor but no beds. This wasn’t a problem as we had our Thermarest mattresses etc. and we’d been sleeping on the ground anyway. Having put our stuff away, we ventured into the kitchen/living room which was opposite our room.
In the corner of that room was a metal, dung-fired furnace that was used for cooking and also to heat water which was piped through out the house to heat it. The lady of the house lit the fire and very soon a bowl of hot tea had been prepared. She made us feel very welcome.
It wasn’t long before all of this food was laid out on the table. Apart from the colourfully wrapped individually sweets, wafer biscuits, and fried pastry (centre back), all of the rest of the food was of dairy origin – some soft and fresh, some rock hard.
This was the most important room of the house, particularly during the cold winters. It had a linoleum covered floor with cupboards along one wall. These appeared to contain household items. There was also a couch, a table and four blue-painted wooden chairs. Some cooking utensils hung on the wall near the furnace. The area around the furnace was tiled.
A TV took pride of place in one corner of the main room and there were family and wedding photos behind the telly. I was asked to take photos of these photos of the important people in their lives. The photos were rather faded to begin with, and behind cracked glass, but they at least gave a family ambience to the house and a sense of the couple’s personal history.
Our hosts wedding photo… interestingly in western wedding clothes.
Our hospitable hosts on the evening we stayed with them..
The main bedroom was off the living room and a clock ticked above the door. An ornate clock also hung above another door which led to a wide corridor that ran down the centre of the house. Amazingly, for a place where time matters little and the day is programmed by the length of the day, sun up to sun down, both clocks agreed with each other!
The roof of the building was constructed using rough poles as rafters cross-laid with planks, all still in natural condition. This added a certain warmth to the home.
Before the day was over, I wandered out into the open area around the house. Just before sunset, the landscape and the animals glowed in the golden late afternoon light.
Daylight was beginning to fade as I walked back to the house, enjoying the last of the view. I looked forward to a better night’s sleep. It had been a strangely uninspiring day after the excitement of the Golden Eagle Festival. However, that disappointment was tempered for me by the priviledge of meeting and staying with this Mongolian family. It was a real bonus.
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