The Mongolian felt-lined tent or ger is often called a "yurt" but this word of Turkish origin (actually meaning "camp site") is used only by Russians and not by the nomads themselves. Each family has its own ger, given to every newly married couple by their relatives.
Mongolia – Been There

What’s it like to spend a night in a Mongolian tent?

Photo by Timothy Allen

Mongolia – Been There What’s it like to spend a night in a Mongolian tent?

Mongolia. After a day filled with hard work, the men of the family I'm staying with peel off their layers and sit down to tuck into steaming plates of food. I join them and catch the women looking over at me for signs of approval.

Gavin Haines
Gavin Haines Travel Writer

I rub my stomach to signify a great meal. I am lying; it is an awful, artery-clogging dish of fatty meat and homemade pasta, which leaves a thick layer of grease on my plate.

After dinner, the family rations itself to an hour of television (the ger’s battery doesn’t allow more), which provokes an argument that has been played out between men and women the world over. “The girls want to watch soaps and the men want action,” says my guide Davaasuren. Predictably, the men win.

After our media ration, the sleepy adults wind down from a hard day’s work by playing with the youngsters. There is a lot of affection towards the children, although the decision to let the kids chew batteries is questionable. Before the lights go out we are treated to one last salty cup of tea and some traditional music. Shyly, Sukhbataar, the eldest son, picks up his guitar and serenades us with three beautifully played songs, all about horses.

His songs highlight how horses are the beating heart of Mongolian life. In addition to inspiring music, steeds are immortalized in statues and revered in history books. When I ask about the significance of horses here in Mongolia, the answer is unequivocal. “It is impossible to imagine Mongolia without them, especially the nomadic people. Horses deeply connect with our history, culture, tradition and life.”

His short set finished, Sukhbataar bows graciously and heads to bed – he must rise early tomorrow to milk the cows.

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A ger can be put up or taken down in about an hour and is both cool in summer and warm in winter while being resistant to strong wind. It is made from a wooden frame covered in felt, with extra layers added in winter and a stove in the center for heating. Photo by Timothy Allen

Timothy Allen

Timothy Allen

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/8
Exposure
1/1600
ISO
640
Focal
16 mm

A ger can be put up or taken down in about an hour and is both cool in summer and warm in winter while being resistant to strong wind. It is made from a wooden frame covered in felt, with extra layers added in winter and a stove in the center for heating.

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