We had a much-appreciated visit from my parents recently, who braved the onset of Mongolian winter to check out our new home. They had a trip scheduled to Japan, so we met there for a day in Kyoto, followed by two days at Naoshima, and then we all came back to UB. Showing them around was my opportunity to visit the Zanabazar Fine Art Museum and the National Museum of Mongolia, both of which are excellent.
We then headed out to see the countryside and spend the night in a ger camp. Khustai (there are multiple spellings; this is my version) National Park is close to UB, extremely beautiful AND has herds of wild horses. The takhi, as they’re known in Mongolian, “Przewalski’s horse” to other parts of the world, are an ancient wild horse that were reintroduced to Mongolia after becoming extinct in the wild. Wikipedia has a good overview here that explains the horses’ history and how they differ from domestic horses and their descendents — the wild horses of the western U.S., for example, are descended from domestic horses. Takhi have a different number of chromosomes, so they separated from other horses a LONG time ago.
Winter is a good time to see them, as they’re not as far up into the hills. We were able to get quite close, as you can (sort of) see from this photo. And yes, the fixed photo at the top of the blog is also takhi, taken when we visited UB in August before moving here.
The other adventure was spending the night in a traditional ger, a.k.a. yurt. Here’s view of my accommodation. Very colorful and nice for tourists, but the same size and configuration as what a family would use. The stove is in the center, beds/couches on the periphery. The doors always face south, and it also is traditional, I just learned, to enter the doorway and head to the left, the area for guests. (I have noticed in stores that I instinctively head right, whereas Mongolian people are more likely to go left. Now I know why.) The walls are lined with carpet, which provides some insulation, but in the middle of the night when the fire had gone out, IT WAS COLD. We all had a good time, though, and there was something really satisfying about being there with no other tourists and seeing the landscape in the snow. The picture at the top of this post was taken in the morning as I went for breakfast. Stunningly beautiful.
NOTE A bit of self-promotion here: I am very pleased to be a new featured blog on ExpatsBlog.com, and the badge on the right side of this blog will take you to the Mongolia page there, where this blog is listed. Expats Blog is running a writing contest starting on December 16, for which I entered a post of tips for people moving from Malaysia to Mongolia. Because that’s a very small subset of people, the list is quite tongue-in-cheek, but please take a look, and if you like it, leave a comment there. And thanks for reading.