Endless steppe, warm gers, toothless grannies and the gorgeous smell of burning sheep dung.
The Mongolian province of Bulgan is located to the north west of Ulaanbaatar and south east of Lake Khövsgöl. It’s dominated by hundreds of miles of unspoilt grassy steppe and rocky mountain regions. Following the people of Bulgan’s proud tradition of being the first at everything, this province is also home to Mongolia’s first cosmonaut, Jugderdemidiyn Gurragchaa.
The best way to experience the Bulgan Province (or any part of Mongolia for that matter) is by spending time with its people. The strong nomadic culture of Mongolia means that people will readily accept you into their home, (although paying a little towards food is usually expected).On entering any ger (nomadic tent) and seating yourself on the western side you’ll usually be greeted with suutei tsai (tea made from yak butter) and maybe tarag (yoghurt), urum (clotted cream) or aaruul (dried curd). I ended up sitting next to an eighty-year-old man and his ten-year-old grandson (or son, I didn’t ask). They’d come over on their motorbike while we were sat on a small hill. We’d accompanied Mrs Byambatogtoh on camels so she could use her mobile in the only place on the steppe with a bit of coverage (she spent most of the call shouting “hello?” in Mongolian and getting cut off). The sun was going down and the old bloke had approached us to ask about my iPod with the Mongolian music on it, (word get’s around very fast here, even when your nearest neighbor is about five miles away). He seemed disappointed when I said it was back in the ger, but I assured him he could come round any time and have a listen. All this said through hand gestures and drawings in the sand.
However much time you get to spend there, it will never be enough.