Tuesday, September 18, 2012
What it Looks Like Inside a Mongolian Ger
Every day in Mongolia we stayed in ger, which is a movable round house similar to a yurt and often called by that name. (But it's not a yurt in Mongolia, it's a ger.)
Most nights we stayed in guest or tourist ger that were kept around for random visitors, rather than being someone's primary dwelling. But on our last night in Mongolia, we pulled up to the spot where we were supposed to stay and saw the family that lived there dismantling their homes and putting them into the back of a large truck. They were leaving their summer camp and moving to the place they put their ger and herds during the winter. But they were very nice and just agreed to leave up the ger they'd not yet dismantled so we could stay there that night and they'd come back for it in the morning.
It was a stroke of luck for us, because the still-standing ger was done up for the family and had a covered dome, which meant it was a lot warmer than the previous ger we'd been staying in, which were just open to the sky. (The other ger were toasty and delightful until the fire went out, which happened quickly. As soon as the fire went out, it quickly became painfully cold. Those ger had the same holes in the chimney, but they were open to the elements. The fabric covering the ger couldn't be brought in to cover the hole, because if it touched the chimney it could catch fire and burn the whole thing down.)
Here is the family packing up one of their ger:
The ger we stayed in had the decorated orange roof poles we saw in all the family ger we visited. The tourist ger had just plain, unfinished wood slats.
I love the way the dressers and wardrobes were painted. It was the same way in the other family ger.
I seriously considered trying to figure out how to bring something like that home for myself.
This is the plastic-domed roof that made all the difference for warmth:
The chimney connects down to this stove, which was for both heat and cooking:
Before lighting the fire our tour guide, Minde, put some stones in among the dung for making khorkhog (real Mongolian barbecue) later.
During the middle of the night, there was a colossal racket as a pika got into the ger and started running around, rattling the chimney and chewing on things. Pika are adorable. They're called "rock rabbits" and they look like yellow guinea pigs with big round mouse ears. I would very much like to make friends with one and keep it for a pet, but after the racket that little guy made, I thought my friend Chris was going to crush it with a boot. (I suspect he would have, if he could have caught it.) I tried to open the door so it could leave, but it was cold outside and the pika didn't like that any more than the rest of us did. At some point I must have fallen asleep anyway, because I don't remember how the pika saga concluded.