Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mongolia | Töv Aimag | Horse Trip #1

Came out of Occultation to make a short horse trip into the Khentii Mountains. Accompanying me were my friends Saraa, who had some vacation time coming from her job as office manager of a software firm in Ulaan Baatar, and Ms. S, a Turkish-born but New York-based auteur and adventuress who visits Mongolia each summer with the regularity of a demoiselle crane. From UB we drove four hours east to Zevgee’s ger on the Kherlen River north of the sum center of Möngönmört in Töv Aimag.

I first met Zevgee, now seventy years old, in 1997, as described in my book Travels in Northern Mongolia. This is the ninth trip, either by Horse or Camel, that I have done with him. This past winter he broke his leg and was on crutches for a couple of months, but now he claimed to be just fine, and while perhaps not ready to ride off to Poland to battle the Teutonic Knights appeared fit and fiddle enough to ride to Khagiin Khar Nuur, a small but exceeding picturesque lake in the Khentii Mountains about thirty-five miles ATCF west of his ger. This was a short and simple trip, but Ms. S had never ridden a horse before so I did not want to do anything too strenuous: I figured two easy days of riding to the lake, two days of relaxing at the lake, and then two days back.
Zevgee (third from right, standing) and his extended family
Ms. S. was promptly nicknamed “Günj’ (günj = princess) by Zevgee’s family. Here she looks like she’s getting ready to invade Armenia.
Günj, looking like she just spent an pleasurable morning whipping peasants
Saraa—linguist, calligrapher (she did the traditional Mongolian script frontpiece for my book Illustrated Guidebook to Locales Connected with the Life of Zanabazar: First Bogd Gegeen Of Mongolia, and office manager
Saraa in real teal deel
Günj and Saraa bonded immediately
One of Zevgee’s silver-chased saddles, valued at over $1500