Milk and Alcohol

Tsogt Ovoo Travel Blog

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stuck in snow
I sleep surprisingly well.  One of the family comes into our ger to light the fire before 7am so by the time we have breakfast the ger is nice and warm.  We say our thanks to the family and are soon in the van heading south.  About 60km ahead is the regional town Mandalgovi where we stop for fuel and to do some shopping.  On the way we are stuck in snow but it is only a small drift and with 4 people pushing (Phil is filming) we are easily out. 

One of the surprises is the number of places we visit where there is a supermarket.  My reading of the guide books tended to imply there are no opportunities to buy anything once you are out of UB but we regularly pass through small towns and Moogii needs to shop there to supplement our food supply with fresh meat and veg.
Mandalgovi
  Here Phil and I decide to splash out on some orange juice for breakfast.

South of Mandalgovi the country becomes flatter and more desert like and Bayaraa is able to make good time.  Lunch is a picnic on a hill in the middle of nowhere, beautiful country but still blowing half a gale.  Another hour on and we come across our first herd of camels wandering across the plain in front of us.  Though these camels look wild they are all owned by families who let them graze freely.  It's a feature of most Mongolian domesticated animals that they are still semi-wild. 

We stop and explore a small cave where I am pleased that (a) I brought a head torch and (b) I am wearing rough clothes as it involves some crawling through a narrow passage, which is not everyone's idea of fun.
View of the Gobi from lunch spot
  Our next stop is at the white cliffs or white stupa.  This is a low limestone cliff (30m high) with interesting white rock formations and good views north.  Dawn or dusk would be the best time but it is now late afternoon, the light is good and there is some classic desert scenery.

A further 15km on we reach our overnight stop, another nomad family.  Again we are welcomed into the main family ger and are offered tea.  This time it is camel milk tea and it is not salty.  Now we are further south into the Gobi horses are not so common; this family keeps camels and have over 200.  Another use for camel milk is to make a fermented drink.  There is a churn of this in the ger that Bayaraa offers around. It tastes like alcoholic yogurt to me not great but not too bad either.
Our first camels
 

After dinner we walk around near the gers as the sun sets.  The family chase in the young camels which are tethered next to the camp. The goats seems to find their own way back into their pen and the adult camels wander back in their own time.  Once the camels are back the family release each of the young camels in turn and while they suckle from their mothers on one side they are able to hand milk the camel from the other.  The mother doesn't seem to mind though they do tie the camel's hind legs I assume to prevent it running away and giving them a nasty kick.
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stuck in snow
stuck in snow
Mandalgovi
Mandalgovi
View of the Gobi from lunch spot
View of the Gobi from lunch spot
Our first camels
Our first camels
White cliffs
White cliffs
Ger camp
Ger camp
Young camels tethered by gers
Young camels tethered by gers
Sunset in the Gobi
Sunset in the Gobi
Tsogt Ovoo
photo by: Riz7