The following day we drove even further afield (mostly off-road again) in our mini-van to a beautiful forested and mountainous area where natural hot springs had formed. The third day, we drove to a Mongol sand dune, that mysteriously appeared in the middle of the green steppe. We stayed with a Mongolian family for the night in their ger, round tent-like house. Their small one round room home was cosy and home-like with a washing machine, black and white solar powered TV and three beds a central stove and raw meat hanging up everywhere. It was filled with people: the family, visting friends and our tour group. Their cosy little house was quanit and homely but stank! Read Rhino's horn for more detail.
The young boys in the family then took us on a camel ride to the top of the sand dunes. Reaching the top of the largest dune, the eldest boy rested the camels for a while while he decided that we should all sing a song. He sang a beautiful traditional song and Rhino reciprocated by singing the full Welsh national anthem (dressed as a Mongolian warrior). I've never been prouder...
The Mongolian barbeque that we were served that night differed incredibly from that at the swish restuarant we had been to in Ulaan Baatar, where the city chefs had flung meat and vegetables in the air from a stainless steel grill and put on a show of acrobatic proportions. Instead this was basic meal of mutton, boiled potatoes and cabbage cooked using hot stones on the family's stove. Not as interesting to watch but more authentic and still tasty.
The food on the trip was generally delicious. It is amazing what dishes you can cook with the same few ingredients. Each day, tasty meals of rice, potato, mutton/beef, carrots and cabbage were served as soups, stews, fried dishes and barbeques. It's difficult not to leave Mongolia without having a deep respect for the nomadic people. They live in simple, temporary homes in isolated locations but create comfortable, cosy homes and eat well using basic means and few possessions. Seeing the way that they live really made our journey into Mongolia worthwhile and maybe even opened our eyes... just a little bit!