While the weather remains warm and beautiful (it goes below freezing at night but the sun is very strong and very present during the daytime hours), we headed back to the beautiful Terelj Park outside of UB this past Sunday. From what we hear, we have to enjoy the weather while we can so now that we are able to drive our car, we are planning a weekend road trip whenever we can – not just to get out of the city but also to escape the pollution which is slowly but surely creeping up on us.
Yes, the pollution here is among the worst in the world (we already purchased masks for all of us) and not necessarily due to the terrible traffic (which certainly doesn’t help) but mainly to the coal burning practices of residents in the poorer “ger” district that surrounds the North side of the city.
Nevertheless, last Sunday with another sunny day of blue skies, we headed back to the beautiful park while navigating the road and traffic on our own. AND I even drove back without causing too much trouble!
Our mission this time was to go horseback riding and have a picnic and that is just what we did. Not too bad for a Sunday, right?
Sure, we all like horses and have hopped on one or two in the past (and if you recall, the kids could not get enough of the pony and horse rides in Austria and Portugal) but we have certainly never ridden a horse on our own. Apparently that is quite shocking to many Mongolians who just show up at a horse handler, pick out their horse, and jump on its back to take off galloping at wild speeds though the steppe (we did, in fact, witness that).
I mean, how do you not know how to ride a horse? We were asked this more than once when we tried to explain that we had no idea what we were doing and that it might be a better idea for us to hire a guide (or two) to ride with us – how very un-Mongolian!
So once we established we needed a bit more help than usual (and this required lengthy discussions between the horse handlers) and that no, Juliana was not going to ride her own horse at the tender age of 4 (in our defence, we heard that Mongolian horses are sometimes “not so well tamed,” speaking diplomatically), and once we figured out we needed to shout “tchu” very loudly to make our horse go, we were all set to explore the park on horse.
For almost 2 hours, we rode through the park, crossed through ponds and rivers (that was a bit of a surprise and we were quite thankful the horses didn’t decide to swim), and took in the beautiful view of which I don’t have any pictures as I was desperately holding onto Jules and the horse and trying to not fall into the river. You can just visualise the scene in your head.
And then, when we were done riding (just in time as the kids were about to be rocked to sleep), we headed back to Turtle Rock to enjoy a picnic.
Well, perhaps we could have done without the yelling objection to the “wrong” food that was served for the picnic but hey, who are we to complain when those words can be tuned out…
Let’s see how many more weekend outings we can report without being bundled up to our eyeballs in winter gear (winter is coming!)!