Monday, July 29, 2013

Off to Mongolia

This morning I hoped on the trans-Mongolian express, the train  that will take me from Beijing China into Mongolia.

Leaving the city and watching the country side change has been amazing. From mountainous rocky hills with fertile valleys and lakes crammed with gardens and vegetable crops in every available space to rolling prairie & lush farmland 

The sun is setting over flat arid grasslands, the edges of which form the Gobi Desert. The light throws the whole landscape awash in golden and reds of grasses against blue grey sky.  Little red brick farm houses periodically dot the landscape.

The farmer in me is fascinated to watch shepherds herd flocks of sheep and goat towards home for the nights. A very different and a more ancient type of farming than we have in New Zealand. It's a harsh beautiful landscape and I wonder how hard the struggle for survival is here, watering and pasture for  animals alone would surely be challenging.

A few hours ago it was green and broken up into small sections of corn, sunflowers, grapes and potato fields all bordered by tall tress, with wild flows along the edges of fields. Big handsome donkeys resting in the shade looked healthy and content. I love seeing this, all the donkeys I've seen with my charity work and been malnourished tiny, over worked depressed beasts with sores & injuries. It's a heartwarming change to know that not all the worlds working donkeys live such a life of misery.

Now though I've seen herds of thirty to forty horses grazing alongside the train tracks. Small healthy hardy looking things of all ages in brown bays, and chestnuts. Chunky tough looking animals even hardier than my own Kaimanawas,  these look more like what I'm sure to find in Mongolia. These animals seem to be doing just fine in the harsh landscape.

I'm excited I've seen horses for the first time since leaving New Zealand and hours ago are train passed a hill with galloping wild horses engraved in huge white stone motifs all across it. This is a sign i think that I'm headed in the right direction.

Tomorrow morning ill be in Mongolia, the last place to have wild horses and home to some of the most ancient breeds that have not changed in the last thousand years. The same horses used by Genghis Khans hordes that once conquered the world. I can't wait.

For now as the sun sets and the grasslands is slowly losing its hold and becoming desert I'm going to curl up on my hard sleeper bed for the night,  I'm sure il be woken at the border for security and passport checks and then tomorrow the real adventure begins.... Mongolia