The past 3 years I have always considered myself nomadic, traveling from place to place and never staying for very long. However last night gave me a whole new perspective on the word nomad. We spent the night with a nomadic family that up to just a few years ago they would pick up all of there earthly belongings, livestock, and homes and transport them, usually by walking or caravan, and call a new places miles away home. They would move for better resources or more fertile land or just because it was in their blood.
The Chinese government began utilizing these vast grasslands, farming the wind and using other resources and therefore started to enforce these once nomadic peoples to put their stake in the ground in settle down. This happened 10 years ago and thus this family was forced to call this little plot of land their permanent home. The family, even though becoming more and more modern with electricity in the last year and plans to get wifi in the next few years, miss their days of wandering and constant movement. Growing up that was their normal and now being stuck in one place really saddens them. Given the new regulations however, they have been able to start opening their once mobile ‘Yurts’ (the round circular tents) to visitors from all over the world who can get a taste for what real nomadic life used to be.
While out in the vast grasslands, we were able to ride horses, shoot archery, eat traditional foods, and sing old Mongolian folk songs around the camp fire that we created by collecting and burning cow dung. We wandered aimlessly fighting the strong wind whipping over the plains. I herded sheep and cattle, I walked for mile over rolling green hills and viewed distant mountains. It was peaceful and easy after the crazy chinese cities we have experienced back to back. From 30 million people in Beijing to just 8 of us on this huge, expansive farmland. It was a great getaway and interesting to see the vast difference in style of life just a few hundred kilometers away!