The minivan from Ulaanbaatar (Улаанбаатар) to Tsetserleg (Цэцэрлэг) took 10.5 hours to cover 460km, nearly four hours faster than the previous year thanks to improved roads.
We stayed with Dureen’s family a few kilometres out of Tsetserleg where Dom and I had bought our horses the summer before. The kids remembered me and still laughed at my hat with the hole cut in it for my ponytail. All the local dogs made friends with me too, including Bankhar and Pannak.
Tsetserleg is the capital of Arkhangai aimag in central Mongolia and is a beautifully lush area with plenty of grass and wildflowers and abundant herds. The nearby Khangai mountains ensured ample rainfall during the warmer months which arrived as thunderous afternoon storms and solid downpours.
That night we shared a meal of innards stew as honoured guests followed by vodka nightcaps with Dureen’s dad before we slept in our tent outside. Being summer it was light until late and the kids were still playing soccer outside at midnight when dark had fallen, only to get up again at 6am to start their chores.
One morning I was taking care of my morning ablutions at the edge of the nearby woods, minding my own business, when a herd of cows passed me heading out of the forest and back to camp to be milked. The head cow was encouraging the stragglers to hurry along, when it stopped next to me squatting behind a tree. I could feel its breath as it glared at me. It thought I was part of the herd and should hurry up and get a wriggle on too!