Home Base: Nature’s Door

I’ve been trying to decide what direction to go regarding my blog. I feel like I mostly chronicle my days, but I’m going to try to do some “topic writing.” After two days with my host, I moved down the road to a different camp, Nature’s Door, owned by his sister. They needed help as there are many more guests, so I agreed. It’s basically a full service camp with gers, a lodge, a full restaurant, clean bathrooms, hot showers, and they also have a variety of activities available. My initial job was to take care of three gers and the guests that would inhabit them, but when I saw the restaurant, my wheels started turning. I proposed some ideas to the owner and I suddenly became the marketing director, iPhone photographer, and liaison to the English speaking guests. Long story short- it’s been an incredible experience! I’ve learned where I can help, and when to sit back, (in the kitchen), and the owner encourages me to interact with the guests. I’ve been hiking, jet skiing, boating, and even on a motorcycle ride with different people from all over the world, and sometimes, I have dinner with them. I get ideas, feedback, and recommendations, and before I leave, I need to have a meeting with the owner to share it all.

A camp with great amentities set in a beautiful area.
A camp with great amentities set in a beautiful area.

It has taken some time, but most of the staff has warmed up to me. It’s difficult as most do not speak English and only a few Russian, but we somehow make do, even if it means I’m physically walked somewhere to be shown something. I’m getting really good at charades and I learn a few new Mongolian words everyday. I have a key to the owner’s home, a place to keep my stuff, and after a few days of sleeping in the ger, I moved to the extra bed. After spending two weeks in a ger, it was a readjustment, but it’s nice to have a place to stay for a while and I’m so honored that the staff trust me with these things.

I’m jobless, homeless, and have nothing to give- sounds pretty sad, right?! Everyday, I get something, from having a free place to stay, food to eat, and endless experiences, but I always want to give back. As a “workawayer” and ultimately a backpacker, I’m limited, not only by the amount of actual things that I can carry, but by my budget as well. I wish I had more to offer, but I will set aside some money to give to the waitresses for a lump sum tip before I go. One, my first host’s daughter, is off to college this year, and the other is young too. Often times, they treat me like a guest in the restaurant and I want them to know I appreciate their generosity. There are a few small shops around here, but they all sell the same stuff, and nothing unique, but I need to pick up a few small treats. The owner recently went on a supply run and I gave her some money for fruit. I wanted to share with the kitchen staff as fruit is very expensive so people don’t eat it often. I cut some up the other morning, but today’s loot ended up going to one of the guests- the one who took me on a motorcycle ride, as it was his birthday. I really wanted it for the staff, but I was encouraged to share with the group, it was a funny looking “birthday cake!” A plate with cut fruit dotted with individually wrapped Russian wafer cookies!

I hope David enjoyed his "cake!"
I hope David enjoyed his “cake!”

On the day that I’m writing this, I have 6 nights left. The next few days will be busy, but fun, and I hope to continue to get along well with staff, share some treats, maybe a few laughs because of my horrible Mongolian language skills. If anything, I’m always am a native speaker of English and I don’t mind helping with menial tasks such as drying dishes or peeling potatoes. Lake Khovsgal is beautiful, this experience has already been so rewarding, and I hope I have something I’m bringing to the camp as well.

Like so many of the people I've met in Mongolia, the staff are friendly, helpful, and caring. They are awesome! ?
Like so many of the people I’ve met in Mongolia, the staff are friendly, helpful, and caring. They are awesome! ?

Author: Tiffany Batsakis

Registered Dietitian
Fitness Fanatic
World Traveler
Food Lover
Weimaraner Owner

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