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Photographer's Note

If you have ever wondered what it is like inside a ger the round felt tents that Mongolian people live in (known as a yurt in many other countries) here is a shot of the inside of one. This was taken when I visited a family living on the steppes a couple of hours east of Ulaanbaatar. We had to ford several rivers in an old Russian high wheel base troop carrier to reach this ger, and there was no sign of any other human beings for as far as the eye could see in all directions. All of the gers that I saw in Mongolia had the same orange support poles and intricately decorated orange tables. The only difference in the colour schemes was in the rugs that are hung around the walls. The orange pole on the right of the picture is the centre support pole that is holding up the roof so you have to be careful not to walk into that! There is usually a table and stove in the middle of the ger and then beds and cabinets around the outside. The old man in the centre of the picture (note his traditional boots) is sitting on one of the beds which doubles as a set of drawers for storing clothes. The bed on the left is a more traditional iron bedstead. Visitors to a ger have to sit on the beds as there are no chairs apart from the small stools around the centre table (which the other three family members are sitting on). The woman on the right is sipping hot Mongolian tea which I tried, but is too milky and salty for my taste. In the middle of the table are plates of dried milk products (called tsagaan idee) which are always offered to visitors. What I was offered tasted like chewy dried yoghurt palatable but rather bland. The old man also offered me his snuff box, and it is considered polite to take at least a small sniff. The black and white TV is being powered by a car battery on the floor by the side of the bed, which in turn is powered by a solar cell on the roof of the ger. If it rains during the day, they cannot watch TV at night. Note the old rabbit-ears TV antenna stuck up in the roof of the ger. The distortion in this photograph is of course caused by the very wide angle lens that I had to use to get as much of the inside of the ger into the shot as I could (focal length was 12 mm). I cropped a little off the bottom of the shot (it was only bare carpet) and increased the colour saturation a little to compensate for the effects of the flash.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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