Days are blurring together as desert turns to steppe, sand turns to river and trees cover the mountain tops. We have wandered into Central Mongolia, a land of winding valleys reaching to the clouds. Village life is more abundant as Gers of the nomad cluster together and spread through valleys in greater numbers. You cannot move through this terrain without reaching torrents of water pumping out of the mountains. It brings life to the people and their animals, but presents an ongoing challenge for us as Motonomads. There is often a way across to the other side, but sometimes it takes a herdsman to throw a slab of horse shit into the torrent as a marker of the ideal point to cross.
It is the right of the Nomad to find their patch of land, establish a yard and let their animals roam. They do not utilise fencing, just a monocle in their pocket to keep gaze on their wandering herd. Yak, goat, sheep or horse – the Nomads have an animal for every season and climate, so are never without a source of milk or meat the entire year round.
Mongolians have long coexisted with the horse and believe the Mare’s milk holds great medicinal properties, especially in the form of “Airag” which is fermented horse milk that becomes alcoholic. Milked up to six times per day, one mare will produce about 2 liters of milk, so to produce enough Airag for a whole family, it is necessary to keep at least a dozen mares. To produce good quality Airag, the milk must be stirred up to 1,000 times a day, which is often done by children as part of their play. The airag is fermented in specially-made animal hide bags and stirred with a wooden stick.
Our 7-week journey is drawing to a close as we taper back to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. We have immersed ourselves in the terrain – literally – and absorbed each Mongolian encounter with curiosity, admiration and respect for a nation of people who live in harmony with the land, it’s animals and each other. For nearly 5000km since crossing the Mongolian border, we have roamed with the nomads – as Motonomads …
If you’ve just discovered this blog, here’s a look at our first Motonomad film production from 2013: