Monday, 6 December 2010

riding out across a winter wonderland

The sun shone brightly yesterday raising temperatures to a balmy -23C so I thought I would take the opportunity to spend the day horse riding across the Steppe. In weather like this you really must wrap up warm, people die regularly out here. Donning my newly acquired fox hat I looked quite resplendent (even if I do say so myself). Before coming to Mongolia I was not 100% in favour of fur. After six months here I appreciate that it really is the only way to keep the cold out. Anyone saying otherwise should spend some time here.
Riding away from my home we rose into the hills. Rising above the valley floor a breeze picked up. The wind chill factor was hellish. Within minutes my friend's faces were turning white marking the potential onset of frostbite. I made sure we all had our faces suitably protected before we rode on. The occasional flurry of snow hampered our progress but we made good time.
In a nearby valley we passed the Shaman site which looked delightful in the snow. The snow here does not get deep. There is simply very little precipitation. Far from being a good thing the dryness that pervades the air makes living and breathing that extra bit more challenging. Moving on from the spiritual site we met a couple of camels grazing on dry twigs in a tree that remained unsullied by ice. On we rode into the hills enjoying the vast views that only the Steppe can offer.
As the sun began to set we headed home in haste. The colours across the Steppe transport you to some magical kingdom and you expect to see orcs or fawns lolloping across the hillside. The last thing you want is to be caught outside once the sun is down. Thankfully we made it home in time and spent the rest of the day imbibing gin and tonic, purely for medicinal purposes.
Mongolian of the day:- hill :: dov