Thursday, June 4: Tsenkher, Mongolia
8:00 Breakfast consists of hot tea, yak yoghurt and muesli, sweet flaky flatbread served with jam and clotted cream (from yak’s milk). Everything was made on the property by Otra and her sisters. It’s worthy of a 5-star restaurant.
10:00 After breakfast we walk about 1 km to Otra’s mother’s yurt. We pass many newborn lambs on the way. The yurt has a solar panel and Dish TV but no electricity or running water. Otra explains that she grew up in this yurt and went to a boarding school in Tsenker and the National University of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar where she earned a degree in accounting. She returned to the hot springs to start a tourism business on land her family leases from the government. They have guaranteed access to the hot springs for 50 years and only 3 other properties share the water. It would be a goldmine if their season wasn’t mid-June to mid-August.
10:30 We find Otra’s mom milking a yak while a sister and her husband tend to the goats. We go inside the yurt and Otra explains the process of making yoghurt and cheese from the yak and goat’s milk.
13:40 Back at the lodge, I turn over my lone pair of jeans to one of the sisters who will repair the big hole I tore in them while climbing to the roof seats a few days ago. I really should buy a second pair of long pants. Maybe when I’m back in UB.
14:00 I feel a cold coming on so I take a Russian product that looks like Neo Citran (it’s made by Novartis) and I fall asleep while reading on my phone.
18:10 I wake up with the phone on my chest. Conclusion: Russian made cold medicine is deadly.
19:00 Dinner consists of a salad of pickled vegetables mixed with pickled yak innards (intestines, stomach, liver, etc.), rice, and something resembling shepherd’s pie. Perhaps this is “true” shepherd’s pie. There are enough shepherds around here.