Post # 133 Tariat

Day 164 567 days to go. Distance: today: 10 km (hitched 161km) total 8821 km.

It’s 9am Saturday 12/5/2012 leaving Tsetserleg. I thought we’d start the day with a photo of us looking all spiffy and ready to go. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to show off Monty’s blue Mongolian silk scarf tied on rube pride of place. I bought us each a smiley face badge as a reminder to keep our best smiles on and ready for action. The Internet cafe is closed on this sleepy sat morning so uploading will have to wait. But know rune looks awesome with Monty’s scark tied on her frame and her smiley face on her GPS bag. Here’s a poem I wrote back in 2001 when Monty and I were living together in Sandgate and loving our daily walks on the beachfront. Off we go!!! Talk soon x

‘It’s Time’

My little mate can’t wait.
She’s pulling on the lead
just as hard as
a tail can wag.
Who’s leading who
down the brick wall
and onto the flats?

At least wait, little mate,
let me take off your lead.
The bull’s off through the gate,
a beeline to seagulls
and the other big dogs.
Sneeze out those nasty splashes,
touch base for a good shake.

Thanks for that, little mate,
off to do it all again,
ears pinned back,
a little stumble.
Watch out for stingray holes!
Touch base to share the excitement
and smiling as only dogs know how.

My little mate can’t wait;
onto the flats,
a beeline to seagulls,
ears pinned back.
She’s pulling on the lead
just as hard
as a tail can wag.

It’s 6.30pm and I’m in Tariat. You just never know where the day may end. We’re safe and sound and spot message sent to let the family know just that. But the bonuses for today are plenty. The weather turned yuk leaving Tsetserleg with heavy clouds rolling in from the mountains. It was bitterly cold so the rain was sleet and we got our first downpour 10km out. Bugga!! Oh well at least I had the gear to deal with the change. I had no sooner got my grape, gloves and balaclava on when a truck stopped and the driver asked if I wanted a lift to Tariat. On another day it would have been no thankyou but blinking through the sleet it was ‘hell yes!!!!’ We negotiated a price of 30 000 ($20) and tied Rube safely on the back along with the timber and horse heads he was transporting from Ulaanbaatar. He later told me the horse heads are used to make soup or at least that’s what I understood. It was a 4hr trip of beautiful beautiful countryside and sights. The scenery has become more hilly with a snow capped mountains. Trees are sparse but ever present and the land is dotted with gers and grazing herds. The average altitude today was 2000m hence there are more yaks now than cows. I saw so small flocks of cranes enjoying the many lakes and rivers and the rocky terrain is a playground for frisky ground squirrels. I lost count of the number I saw in pairs chasing the other and loving the mating season literally 🙂 They’re different to the burrowing marmots on the plains. They appear to have their nests in the rocks and look just like a small squirrel. The skies are full of bird life mostly hawks, eagles, seagulls, tweet tweet birds, ravens and sparrows. The winter months must extend longer in the western Arkhangai aimag as most lakes were still very much frozen. And it was a cold day!! Out of the wind in the comfort of the truck was cosy especially when the sun snuck out, but outside during our truck stops was chill bill big! Soooo happy to have hitched for the day. About 30km east of Tariat the road traveled alongside Chuluut gorge. It was such a dramatic feature with its sheer cliffs and frozen river way below in stark contrast.The driver was friendly and told me in English that he has a wife Tunga and 3 children 2 boys 14 and 7 who go to school in Tariat and a girl 12 who’s a contortionist and goes to circus school Ulaanbaatar. He is a truck driver and also has horses and his wife is an English teacher and runs a guest house in Tariat. He phoned his wife during one of our stops and she invited me to stay for T10000 including breaky awesome!! We arrived about 4pm and I was treated to tea and noodle soup with the family. I spoke at length with Tunga who is a very interesting lady. She did an English course back in 1996 and later got her TESL certificate. She has run her guest house and given private English lessons for many years. In 2010 a professor from Michigan university who loves fly fishing, stayed at her guest house and was so impressed by her, offered a uni sponsorship to speak about Mongolia at TESL conferences around the States for 1 year. How very cool for her. She loved the experience but missed her family and has no more plans to revisit as ‘there’s no place like home.’ 🙂 I went back to my room and read up on Tariat in the Lonely Planet. Tunga’s guesthouse and ger camp by Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur are recommended to stay. Terkhin Tsagaan Nuur or the Great White Lake in English, is the natural highlight of Arkhangai aimag. According to legend, the lake was formed when an elderly couple forgot to cap a well after fetching water. The valley flooded with water until a local hero shot a nearby mountain top with his arrow; the shorn top cov-ered the well and became an island in the lake. Apparently a must-do is to hike to the top of Khorgo Uul volcano. A road leads 4km from Tariat village to the base of the volcano, from where it’s a 10 minute walk up to the cone. I popped back over the see Tunga to ask about the hike and her ger by the lake. She said the hike is about a 4hr return. It sounds amazing. Her ger doesn’t open until 1/6 so I’m still a bit early in the summer season. The weather tomorrow is forecast the same as today with the following days clear. I’ve decided to have a day here to do the hike then cycle onwards to Tsahir 60km away on Monday. The road travels by the lake and Tunga said it’ll make a great lunch break. It’s about 12km west of Tariat. The road is now unsealed and will be hard going but the scenery from Tsahir to Tosontsengal is supposedly spectacular going over a pass and in mountainous scenery. With the weather clearing I’m really looking forward to enjoying this area.

It’s 10pm and I got a visit from Tunga and her husband who’s name is Amara. Amara wanted to see the photos from today and loved checking them out as a slide show. Teaching students then arrived from Tsertserleg and wanted to stay. So now I am in their main house all very warm and cosy. The boys are staying at their Grandma’s and Tunga has made me up a bed where they both usually share. Amara wanted to see the photos again. I started whistling to the slideshow tune on the camera and Tunga quickly told me that in Mongolia you don’t whistle inside the house. It’s a religious respectful thing. I have loved hearing more about Amara. What an incredibly interesting and talented man. He was dux of his high school but didn’t do further study as his father was ill and had to care for him. He can play guitar, sing, dance, and does wood carvings. He loves his horses. Amara built their house by thinking up how it would look, drawing the plans and building it from there. He also built and hand painted all the furniture. I asked Tunga if all mongolian people built and painted their furniture and she said it’s a rare trade and most folk buy manufactured. They have shown me some of his carvings one of a yak and the other a horse, so very detailed. The yak has a Tibetan prayer written on its side. It’s beautiful!! She reckons she married very well and Amara has good genes that he has passed onto his 3 children. Clearly she’s also a clever Mongolian sausage so between them they are totally interesting folk. Soon Tariat will get ‘glass’ cable so that homes can have internet access. Can you imagine the scope that will open up for this already resourceful little family. Currently they have an impressive library of books which they use to look up stuff as needed so the internet will be an amazing step for them. Tunga has shown me her guest books going back to 2002. So many people have stayed. In early April this year, 2 spanish cyclists stayed OMG I can’t imagine it!!! They wrote how their hospitality was a warm welcome lol 🙂 People visit in the middle of winter and talk about taking jeep rides to the local sights along the frozen rivers. That’s hard core!!!! Time to visit their outdoor toilet and get myself ready for bed. The loo is a raised outhouse with 2 slats to squat over. Very clean and civilized. I’m so tired and looking forward to a big cosy night sleep. In the morning I move back into the guesthouse before breaky at 9am then up to the volcano how very cool indeedy. Talk soon x

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About shecyclesolo

If you could dream up the most wildest adventure imaginable what would it be? Between jobs and craving new experience, I decided to indulge the challenge. This is what I conjoured with a promise to come home safe and smiling. I hope you enjoy the 1080 days of stories as much as I will sharing them. "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.' H D Thoreau

2 responses to “Post # 133 Tariat”

  1. Katie says :

    Thank you for sharing your poem Maree -it`s beautiful!
    Monty will be happy – she`s got the whole handle bar space on Ruby all to herself XO

  2. Peta says :

    G’day Maree….wowsers, you are on the adventure of a lifetime! Beth told me about your blog, so I am tuning in. I am based in Selenge (Sukhbaatar) with Mongolia Red Cross. My home is open if needed. Watch those dogs! Will keep posted on your travels. I am now inspired to start my own blog lol…thankyou 🙂

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