After our second portion of the Trans-Mongolian, we stopped in Mongolia for 9 days. We planned to spend some time exploring the capital city, but we really wanted a chance to head to the countryside to spend time with the nomadic people and experience staying in a typical mongolian house- known as a “ger”
We signed up for a program that would give us six days in Western Mongolia – staying as guests with different Mongolian families each night. During the day we would commute the 15-20 km between families either by horse or ox cart.
However, after our first night in the ger, as we were getting ready to leave, our host family informed us that they didn’t have enough horses and they had borrowed a car to take us to the next ger. We felt bad turning them down, but knew that we wanted a chance to experience the country side – something which we felt we couldn’t do from a car.
So, we asked to walk. Our host “dad” seemed dubious. The handbook said the distance was 18km, and being fairly inept at conversions, I felt that the distance didn’t seem too far. Lucky for me, I would have the next 5 and half hours to work out that 18km is pretty far.
But, I know what you are thinking. Surely 18km shouldn’t take five and a half hours!
We soon found out why our host “dad” was dubious about the walk. As it turns out, the walk to the neighboring Ger involved crossing gushing streams every 200 meters.
At first, they were shallow and crossing wasn’t so bad. We just removed our shoes and waded across, stopping on the other side to put our boots back on.
As we went further, the streams got wider and deeper. We began having to build bridges out of logs and use stick for balance.
Eventually, as the streams became even bigger, it became clear to us that we would need a new approach. We all fell in repeatedly while attempting our “bridge” technique. In fact, I failed so badly during one of my attempts that I ended up calf deep in thick mud before we had even been walking 45 minutes. The situation was so disastrous that I had no choice but to wash off my hiking boots and socks in the nearby river. Obviously, they were soaked.
As we approached the last of the streams, we realized we would have no choice but to wade through the waist deep water to reach the other side. My shoes we already drenched so I decided to wear them while I crossed in the hopes that it would give me better traction on the slippery bottom rocks. The current was strong and fast and I saw that the others were having trouble staying upright.
Although I had already come to terms with the fact that I would be walking the next 15km in wet shoes, I hated the idea of also doing it in wet pants. A few other people were wearing fast dry pants – but I wasn’t so lucky.
In a fit of desperation (or some might say genius) I decided that my bast option was to cross over sans pants. For those of you who might need a quick catch up: yes, that means I would be wearing hiking boots, hiking socks and no pants. Oh, and obviously I tied my pants around my neck cape style.
Lucky for me my good friend Shannon was there to capture my shame as I (barely) made it across. I threatened her life if she ever posted one of them on the internet, but what the heck. Here I am in all my pantless glory:
Whatever. I had dry pants.