And now, the long awaited final episode of Traveling Mongol Style.... ok, maybe not so much, but boy was I ever glad to get home to Arvaikheer! There were a few highlights and low lights of the last couple days.
We slept in a school building on the floor on night 6, me in my sleepy out of sorts states, when the ladies in my group chose beef instead of mutton for dinner. I was informed I'd need to eat meat tonight (they kindly worried about my lack of mutton consumption) so I said sure, shall I cook?
Well there was some culture clash, and if only I had photos of some of their facial expressions as they watched me attempt to sear small pieces of meat as well as brown and saute some onions (one said I don't like onions) and kept trying to pour water on it. We ended up with what I found to be a tasty concoction, (using my precious Knorr French onion soup mix, throwing in rice) a flavorful meal.
Not the reaction I was going for, I received many turned up noses, and no thanks, as not one other person ate the food I fixed! They watched in distaste as I devoured 2 bowls of the concoction. Wow.... On the bright side, one guy teacher kept telling me "san ban" (good) and giving me the thumbs up....I was humbled by the experience, although I have eaten Mongolian food and ate the food at the eco camp, all of which was made with beef. Guess this is how they feel when I say I don't want any... though I have at least tried mutton many times and just can't make my taste buds change their minds...
Of course I was again the first to bed while the others got out the vodka and stayed up. The next day was another long one on the road, with many stops. There was a minor crash when one of the micro buses nearly hit a guy on a motorcycle and his bike fell over and his nose was bleeding. They all seemed more adamant arguing whose fault it was and I was internally freaking out about the rider and head injuries... no one seemed to be concerned he was not wearing a helmet. yow.
That last evening on the road found me excited to know it would be our last night of traveling! As it were, our micro bus ended up getting separated from the other 5, attempting to find a ger camp by a lake. We drove and drove and by 2 am, declared to be lost, we parked.... I was like a little kid, so over tired that I couldn't sleep, with my legs feeling twitchy and achy. Half our gang jumped out and pitched tents and the rest of us, snoozed with our legs up for 3 hours.... Then we discovered the camp was literally just down the road.... Of course I was awakened, got out peed, got back in, ate a couple cookies for breakfast and said, I'm going back to sleep, which I did for another 3 hours till we reached Khar Khorem, ancient capital of Mongolia and home to the oldest monastery in Mongolia.
We visited the Turkish Museum outside of town and the monastery eventually after an entire afternoon spent at a dorm, where groups cooked, ate and waited for the return of our driver.
My conclusion about my inability to keep up with the Mongolians, is that I'm just an older spoiled American, who likes my sleep (all in a row ) and gets tired when I drink during the day, (especially the traditional toasting for a safe journey, which happens any time of the day or night) and likes to relax over a cup of coffee in the morning:) In the words of the Bearanstain bears, this trip was "too much vacation"!