We were driven to the Mongolian National Park for our day of traditional Mongolian food, horseback riding and exploration. We first had to stop at a local market for provisions of water, toilet paper, and of course, vodka. We went in on a bottle with two other people who we would be sharing our Ger with. We went a little crazy and managed to spend way more money than we actually had however. I insisted that James put the Kit Kat bar back, along with my Coca-Cola and crackers. They were after all, just junk food! The couple we were with spotted us, even after my original rejection of their charity. It was one of the more embarrassing moments one could have. “Hey there strangers, do you mind paying for my American indulgence of unnecessary food?” In the end, it was fine, but I couldn’t help asking James, “Как тебя не стыдно?” Or “How have you no shame?”
We arrived at the Ger and were told lunch at 2, horses at 4. That was about all the interaction we originally got from our host family. After taking some amazing pictures of our scenery, we decided to rest up after the long drive to the wilderness then embark on a hike after lunch. Our lunch was delicious, although we were served on a little table next to the dogs; it was a dangerous task, eating lunch while simultaneously pushing hungry dogs away from your plate.
After an afternoon hike, I was pumped and ready to horseback ride! I have only done it a few times, but I figure it is in my blood, so I was going to make the best of it. There was one wild black horse in the pack – James got him. I was a little worried, but I didn’t think much of it until later when we started our journey. James’ horse liked to stop and just stand still, and after the second time doing so, the horse decided to simple go down and lie down, effectively getting James off of him. We all thought it was funny until James started chasing after his horse and got a good bucking to the thigh! That is something you don’t see every day! Luckily, he was just fine but his horse had gotten loose. Our Mongolian guy who came with us tried multiple times to lasso the horse but he was unable. Feeling pretty confident on my horse, I decided to help and managed to stop James’ horse and grab onto his reign. I was feeling very proud of myself to have been able to catch a wild horse. Our tour guide switched horses with James so he no longer had to fear the wrath of black beauty.
The rest of the afternoon was unreal. I got my horse to rapidly gallop all around the Mongolian country side. I pretended I was in the movie Avatar and made Navi war cries as I flew through the air. My mother would be proud of my riding skills if she had seen me. All was going well until James’ saddle came loose and he started shifting up and down the horse’s neck! He had to eject, catching his foot in the stirrup. Again, luckily, he was just fine. James is a resilient guy. I don’t know too many people who would take getting bucked and kicked that calmly.
All in all, the Mongolian countryside is a beautiful place to visit. It was unfortunate however that there was so much trash and debris everywhere. It was shocking to find a National Park with a landfill right in the middle of it. Hopefully, as Mongolia continues on its way to becoming a more prosperous nation, I imagine it will begin to value and take more pride in its national landmarks. This prehistoric countryside is definitely worth preserving.