Since I started my journey at an American Anglican Benedictine monastery, I figured it made sense to spend some time towards the end at a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia.
Tomorrow, I leave Ulan Bator, sometimes called the ugliest capital city in the world, for five days living in a ger, riding horses, and eating boiled mutton. There might be some meditation involved as well.
Ger to Ger (www.gertoger.com) is a socially responsible, ecologically aware, culturally sensitive – yada, yada -tour company operating out of UB and organizing similarly themed excursions. While there are literally hundreds of tour companies organizing outings for the backpacking circuit, Ger to Ger is the only one that is values-driven, striving to enrich its hosts economically and its guests culturally.
An orientation is also required. At mine, I learned that the horses I would be riding would have Mongolian saddles – i.e. wooden. I learned how to accept snuff from the elder of the ger when he offers it to me as a sign of greeting. And, I learned that while English has served me fairly well throughout my travels, it will be absolutely no use over the next week. I was given a Mongolian phrase book, but between deciphering the cyrillic and differentiating the guttural coughs, I think it’s pretty much hopeless. I’m surely quickly learn how to sign “no more fermented mare’s milk.”
I’m pretty sure there’s no wi-fi at the monastery, so another week will pass before any more updates.
Assuming I survive.