After the eagle festival Maria went off on her mountain trek with the rest of the group she joined and this was the last I saw of her. It was great being able to experience part of my trip with a friend from back home. If your reading this Maria I hope you had a great time in the mountains and that you managed to sort yourself a tour in the Gobi. It was ace to see you out here and I wish I could of spent more time with you. If you have tried messaging me through Facebook I am not ignoring you I actually writing this in China and Facebook just doesn’t work here. I know I am well behind on my blog but its like having homework to do all the bloody time and I was never very good at doing homework! Have fun in the real world! x
So with Maria off galavanting up a mountain I looked to arrange a home stay with an eagle hunter family and into the world of the nomadic people. Now the rabble of tourist who were here for the eagle festival had all fucked off back to their banking careers I was actually able to get noticed! The problem with people who have loads of money is they are happy to get ripped off as they don’t even realise the are being over charged in the first place. These dumb idiot’s make the tour companies all the money so people like me don’t get a look in. So when Olgi was back to its normal self again I was able to meet up with David (clearly not his real name) one of the local guides and organise a few days staying with an eagle hunter called Algalai who was a friend of his. Going through him and not a tour company saved me shed loads of cash. It also meant I was able to do it solo as I didn’t really want to share the experience with someone else. I wanted these nomads to my self!
In the morning David and his friend picked me up in his friends car that definitely would of failed its MOT in the UK. It was literally falling apart and the only door that would open from the inside was the front drivers side, the exhaust had been ripped off ages ago and the majority of the interior panelling was missing. We headed to the market where we met up with the eagle hunters wife Gulasyl who was stocking up on what looked like a months worth of stuff. Algalai soon joined us on his motorbike and we made our way into the mountains with Algalai leading the way. Two hours into the drive I soon realised why Gulasyl had been stocking up on so much stuff and why davids friends car was so fucked. The roads if you can really call them roads were just as bad if not worse than the ones in the Gobi desert and Algalai lived half way up a mountain Gulasyl had clearly made good use of the opportunity to take a ride in a car and stock up for the winter!
As soon as we arrived Gulasyl got the customary milk tea on the go and handed out the biscuits, dried yogurt and fermented goats milk. David was the only one who could speak english so he translated Algalai’s questions for me before he headed back home.
Question 1. Do you drink vodka? YES
Question 2. Have you ridden a horse before. YES though I neglected to tell them it was about 15 years ago for and only for about an hour.
Question 3. Can you ride a motorbike? YES
Outside the house there was only one horse and after me and Algali had finished our tea he gestured for us to go so I jumped on the back of his motorbike and we headed off to go and find one of his 10 horses so that we could go out on a hunt the next day. How he kept track of his livestock was a skill in itself as the landscape was vast and his animals could be anywhere. I now understood why he wanted to know if I could ride a motorbike, as when we found the horse I was going to ride the bike back and he was going to ride the horse. Well thats what I hoped anyway as I actually know what to do with a motorbike.
On the mission to find one of his horses we stopped off at various gers along the way where he introduced me to what would be his neighbours and at each ger we would be invited in for milk tea and I suppose Algalai was also asking them if they’d seen any of his horses. We continued to drive for ages without spotting an of his horses and eventually arrived in a small town and I knew exactly why we were here. I followed Algalai into a small shop and sure enough he was buying vodka and a bottle of aloe vera flavoured pop. I was dreading the aloe vera pop the most!
We headed off towards a river and followed it until we reached a couple of gers that turned out to be the homes of his father and sister. The vodka soon made its way onto the table and his sister put two small drinking bowls on the table and Algalai poured a vast quantity of vodka in each one and place one in front of me and the other in front of his father! I gestured where his was and he made it clear he did not drink vodka. Fucking great! It is customary to drink vodka like for like and his father really liked the stuff! So while me and his father knock back the not so bad vodka Algalai sits there laughing at my facial expressions whilst playing with a baby kitten resembling some sort of dodgy james bond villain!
When half the bottle was drunk Algalai grabs a fishing line and tackle and gestures for us to go. We jump on the bike and head up river where Alagai grabs a stick and starts poking around the rocks in the shallows to disturb some little fish, as soon as one swam out he chucked a massive rock in and stunned it then handed it to me while he continued to search for more but ten minutes later I still only have one little fish in my hand and we abandon any hope of finding anymore and head further upstream to the deeper water to see what we can reel in with our little tiddler!
Literally after Algalai’s third attempt of hand casting the line he is shouting at me “photo photo!’ Sure enough he pulls out a decent sized fish! The decent sized fish had eaten our bait though so we were left just the spinner, after a few more attempts he offers the line to me. There is a definite knack to this style of fishing and my attempts to cast out the line were embarrassingly shite, in the end Algalai cast the line out and I would pull it back in again. Needless to say we came away with only the one fish. When we returned to his fathers ger there was an extra horse that his father had herded in while we were fishing. “Horse” Algalai shouts to me whilst pointing at it then me. It looked like this black beauty was going to be my steed for the hunt tomorrow then. We enter the ger and me and his father finish the bottle of vodka.
Now things get a little bizarre as I was now expecting to ride Algalai’s motorbike or the horse back to his place but after drinking half a bottle of vodka maybe Algalai didn’t think it wise for me to operate any machinery or animals, so when we get outside his father ties a rope around my waist and the other end to the horse! I then get on the back of the motorbike and we start to make our way back but the horse doesn’t feel the same way and I find myself playing a game of tug of war between a motorbike and a resilient horse! Eventually the horse gets the right idea and gallops behind us without crushing my internal organs. Along the way Algalai spots another one of his horses and I soon have two of the beasts tied to me!
When we return back to his house Gulasyl served us up some milk tea and plonked a huge bowl of stewed goat and potatoes on the table where it was a free for all, you just grabbed what you wanted and ate it with your hands. Algalai had a razor sharp knife that he passed around and we used it to hack pieces of meat off the bone. I have never eaten so much meat before! When we had picked every last bit of flesh from the bones we had one final cup of milk tea and went to bed for the night. I was given quite a nice spacious mattress while they both crammed themselves onto a bed that was the size of a small child’s.