Ahh Baatar. He drove us through sand, through grass, through bumpy unpaved roads and over many a mountain.
I think a good driver can make a roadtrip, much like a good gynecologist can make a Pap smear just by warming up the instruments. What I mean is, the drive had to be done if we want to see anything interesting. It’s how it’s done that makes the difference.
Baatar is this sweet 29 year old who looks about 22, and has been driving tourists around Mongolia for 6 years.
He doesn’t speak much English. Actually he doesn’t speak a great deal at all. But he’s quick with a smile, shares his snacks with us and even took us home to meet his mum and hang out while he mended the family ger with everyone.
Everywhere we went he knew the locals and invariably helped the families we stayed with – one day helping a mother with the renovations on her house, the next delivering food stuffs to a local. The day we spent trekking the lake, he helped the family we were staying with move their ger from the winter spot to the summer spot – a full days work.
Along our travels we’ve moved bags of flour and rice, given a lift to an older couple to a small village, moved tiny stools for Baatar’s family’s home and dropped in on his friends for cups of sweet milky tea to take a break from the road.
Gotta love a man who takes two white girls home to meet his mum after driving around for four days, lets us have a whole ger to ourselves while his family of six squeezes into the other ger, and then sends us home with yoghurt his mama made!