Monday, September 17, 2012

Mongolian Adventure - the Ger

This past week I had the adventure of a lifetime. I traveled to Mongolia to stay at a ger camp and visit a Mongolian family to experience the traditional nomadic lifestyle that has remained the same since the time of Genghis Khan. The Ger, or as we call it, yurt, is the traditional dwelling in Mongolia. It is a round structure with a felt or wool inner lining that works fabulously well to insulate the structure. There is a wood stove in the center that when lit can warm the entire ger within a few minutes. The wind is a constant presence in Mongolia but the ger protects it's inhabitant very well.

Mongolians truly live off the land. There is no electricity and little to no wood found in the open steppe or mountainous regions. Fires, used for both cooking and heating, are started with dried grass and fed with horse or cow dung. Gers dot the countryside but are more often than not clustered near a source of water which is critical to the survival of their livestock as well as the people. Tea is a beverage drunk throughout the day and requires a steady supply of boiled water. Since the land has few if any fences and the livestock tend to waunder in and around the rivers and lakes, boiling water is critical for anyone wishing to drink from the supply. If you aren't able to boil the water, a water bottle with a purifier is critical. I met another traveler who drank the water without boiling or filtering and she was sick for weeks at a time.

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