Dopper Bridges Borders – Mongolia

Nice to Meet You! We are Leslie and Iris from Meet You at the Bridge, your go-to travel inspiration and information blog. On the 13th of September 2015 we packed our backpacks and two Doppers and set out for Saint Petersburg for the start of our journey around the world. During our travels, we see, experience and a gain an understanding of how other countries and cultures deal with drinking water and (plastic) waste. We will be sharing our experiences in our blog: Dopper Bridges Borders.

Reindeer herders in Mongolia

We are huddled together around the little wood burner in the tipi. We look on as our host Batmu melts a block of ice in a pan. We are visiting Tsaatan, one of the last communities of reindeer herders in northern Mongolia.

Mongolia is the least densely populated country in the world, it is rich in natural beauty and fertile land. Yet, only half its population has access to clean drinking water. The majority of Mongolians live in ger tents; traditional round tents. As more and more people move to the capital Ulaanbaatar, the ger districts around the city are constantly expanding. The gers are not connected to water mains. Locals get their water from water kiosks where they fill their jerry cans with fresh water and shower at the communal bathhouse.

Sleeping in a tipi

Batmu lives high up in the mountains of northern Mongolia where there are no water kiosks. From his tipi, he looks out over the Khövsgöl lake, the Baikal lake’s little sister, where we filled our Doppers with clean drinking water three days ago. Batmu leads a nomadic, basic existence and his life revolves around his thirty reindeer. He would never move to the city, even though his wife and kids live there for the greater part of the year. As the ice water simmers, he tells us about his life. “I love the mountains, nature and my reindeer. They take me to the lake to get water. When there is snow, like now, I melt it to cook with.” We had not expected to be able to drink water straight from the lake, but Batmu assures us we can fill our Doppers here, before we press on to the inhabited world.

After an extraordinary overnight stay in the tipi, we are taken to the bathhouse in Mörön where we can  finally have our first refreshing shower in five days, just like the locals.

Next stop: China, the final destination of the Trans Mongolian Express.

Read more on our trip to Tsaatan and Batmu’s way of life here and check out our travelogue and photos.

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