Ghetto? Ger!

This is our last day in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I clearly remember our first day when we got here. We were flying from Beijing across the Gobi Desert. Outside was completely dark. When a few lights came in sight, the plane suddenly went down and we arrived at the Chinggis Khaan Airport. Because we got informed about our new destination just a week ago before flying out, everything was new and our trip was more like a mystery.

Chinggis Khaan and a nomadic lifestyle were two keywords I remembered about Mongolia from my high school education. Personally, I was curious about Mongolian’s unique lifestyle and looking forward to seeing it. However, Ulaanbaatar was different from what I expected. Lots of high rise buildings were being built everywhere in the city and the lifestyle didn’t seem nomadic. Driven by the mining boom, the growing economy has been changing Ulaanbaatar fast.

Nevertheless, it was not long before I found a vestige of their nomadic lifestyle. Even though Ulaanbaatar people have an urban lifestyle, most like to spend their summer outside the city, enjoying a beautiful nature and calmness. It is very common to stay at ‘Ger’, a traditional tent shaped housing for two or three months over the summer. During the IBD, luckily, I had a chance to visit a ger camp 10 miles away from the city. Inside of the ger was big enough to put two beds, table and a little kitchen and cozier than expected even in Mongolia’s cold night.

Having a dinner at ger was a special experience I had in Mongolia. The dinner started with Mongolian traditional tea, hot milk with salt. It is known that nomadic people started taking in salt in a form of tea because they didn’t have many sources to get minerals while moving around all the time. After the tea time, ‘Horhog’, Mongolian mutton BBQ was served. The most interesting part of cooking horhog was to put black stones from river in the pot. It is believed that the stones make mutton softer and tasty. I was not sure how it works but mutton was so tender and didn’t smell at all. 

Time went by so fast and three weeks were too short to explore Mongolia. However, it was a great opportunity to get to know about this dynamic country, and I truly hope to come back here some time soon to meet my friends.

—Yonghan

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