06-09-13 © 2013 . All rights reserved.

6 Sep ’13

Thanks to our almost non-stop travelling lifestyle, people call us drifters and others call us nomads. But when I look at the real nomadic life here on the Mongolian steppe, our lives are very much different. It’s true that the “wherever I lay my head” concept applies to us but how the nomads of Mongolia live and exist, is a completely different story. Our first rendezvous is near Arburd Sands with the family of Baljinnaym. Three generations of nomads live together in three gers. They all contribute to make the harsh life on the steppe possible. The temporary camp is surrounded by grazing horses, goats, sheep, cows and camels. They ride horses but they also have motorbikes and Russian jeeps to get around (and if there is a phone signal, iPhones and Samsung Galaxies to text and call).
We get offered a cup of airag, fermented mare’s milk, and a piece of dried aarul, cow’s milk, sundried on the roofs of the gers. It sounds more awful than it actually is. Airag is like fizzy buttermilk and aarul taste like over aged Parmesan cheese. We have tried worse things when visiting local people around the world.
The nice thing about Mongolia is that you do not feel like an intruder when visiting these local nomadic families. They invite you in, offer you drinks and snacks, but keep on doing their thing. Talk to each other, cook or prepare the airag in a huge sack of cow leather, feed the stove with camel dun, sow long strings of horsehair to use as strong ropes… Everybody is willing to pose for a picture but only when dressed appropriately: while wearing their silk deel or the men their leather, typical hats and boots. Don’t’ think it is a circus (what is often is in other countries) when visiting a local family. Mongolians are genuine and they just do what they always do when visitors come to say hello. They treat them well and with respect and always offer them a drink and a snack. Lots of Westerners should better take an example of that.

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