Fishing in Lake Khovsgol
When we wake up the next day, the whole place was shrouded in mist with cloudy sky and it was drizzling. We did not manage to see the sun till very late in the afternoon. The mist and coldness gave the resort a very mystique feel and we all huddled into the resort’s cafe to wait for the rain to subside so we could start our first activity for the day – fishing! Luckily the cafe equipped with a huge fireplace where we could start a fire and warm ourselves. The temperature that morning was about 10 degrees.
Finally rain fell lesser and we proceeded to Lake Khovsgol (Lake Hovsgol) to fish. It was still misty that we could not even see the mountains opposite the lake. Cold winds were blowing and I gave up on trying to catch a fish after I messed up and got the line entangled with the reel. But hey, it’s my first time fishing!
None of us caught a fish, so we proceeded to the jetty to try our luck. Over there we saw a catfish sleeping (hibernating) under the jetty. We woke it up and our hero Mr. Leong managed to hook it up by sheer luck. Finally we “caught” our first fish of the day! The catfish is quite large and it’s probably about half a metre in length. But well, to get the hook out from the fish mouth took so much more effort than hooking it up! It took one man to catch the fish but one army to free it! Since we didn’t intend to eat the fish and the Mongolians believe in good karma, we let go the fish.
But then another group of tourists came along and try to catch the same fish again! Damn! The fish was real unlucky!
Horse Trekking – Lord of the Rings Style
After a filling lunch of minced lamb meat pancake and delicious lamb soup, we got ourselves ready for the 2-hour horse ride to visit a reindeer family. We actually looked forward to the horse ride because we already had a practice round few days ago at another Ger camp and we enjoyed it. We only paid about USD6 for the practice that lasted about an hour!
Mongolian horses are easier to ride than normal horses because they are shorter in height thus it’s easier to mount the horse without any aid. We rode through hills, shrubs land and forests before arriving at the reindeer’s family camping ground. Riding horses through shrubs land and forest is no easy feat because the horses will just bash through any shrubs and hanging tree branches in its path and they forgot there are humans seating on their back! So throughout the journey, we have to dodge tree branches and have thorny bushes scrape along our legs!
The trick for horse riding is to wear thick trousers like jeans (wear something thick and waterproof if it rains), a pair of gloves and a long sleeve top to prevent unwanted cuts and grazes. We felt like the cast in Lord of the Rings when our group rides through the virgin forest in single file with no other living folks except us, trees and animals.
Seriously, the 4-hour horse riding (to and fro) with just basic training is easy walk in the park. My bum and thighs ached like mad from the constant jolts when the horse trots. A joke came out of this horse riding experience – our fellow traveller Mr. Leong’s horse kept farting when he trotted the horse and we eventually gave him a nickname, The Fart Rider!
Riding Reindeer Like Santa Claus
When we arrived at the reindeer family camping ground, I was taken aback. In the camping ground, there was a small rickety Mongolia tent erected called “Teepee”. It is just a conical shaped tent made from patches of tarpaulin and tree branches.
The whole family of about seven persons breathe and sleep in this Teepee which is smaller than our Ger back at Ancient Resort! They invited us into their Teepee for tea and rest but I declined knowing that the indoor real estate inside is limited.
Our main purpose for taking the arduous horse ride is to see reindeers up close and personal and we were rewarded with two tamed reindeers besides the lake. Took out our cameras, we started shooting the reindeers from all angles. One good thing was we were the only group there and it’s not like a zoo where we need to jostle with others to get into good position to take shots.
Reindeers are rare in tropical country like Singapore and we were really elated when the reindeer is in such close proximity (less than a meter) from us. You can imagine our excitement we usually get to see reindeers alongside the rotund Santa Claus on TV during Christmas season. To cap off the fantastic experience, we got to ride the reindeer and pose for photos. We felt like Santa Claus for that instance and now we can proudly tell the world we “rode a reindeer”!