I had plenty of company on some of these runs, including cows, sheep, birds, hares, WILD HORSES (yeah, just try getting that song out of your head now. Yep, you're welcome!), and a puppy, to name a few. No human was encountered on any of my runs however (bar a couple of cowboys on motorbikes speeding off to herd his cows in the distance), and I truly felt 'one with nature', as per the mantra.
SO beautiful, and so peaceful.
The first run was during our stay in a farmer's traditional yurt / ger (a monglian tent). I'd asked one of the guys there, where was good to go for a run. To which he spread out his arms, indicating the vast choice of open running routes, i.e. the grasslands, d'oh... So, off I went bright and early the next morning about half 5 (although could have been even earlier - felt like it was light from about 3 in the morning out there!). I couldn't see where I was placing my feet on each step and sort of had to run with high knees, due to all the long grass. There was thousands of rocks and roots too, was actually pretty treacherously going, and I was worried about putting my foot down awkwardly and twisting my ankle. However, all was good, and I made it back to the campsite unscathed. Later that day, another of the guys there showed me some pictures of him holding up a fairly huge snake that is common to the land all around us. I asked was it poisonous/venomous to which he'd said of course. Hmmm, lucky I didn't know about that before my run!
The next three runs also took place in the grasslands of Xilingol, but further along, and from our own campsite (i.e. just the caravan and us) at the edge of a lake. We stayed here for four nights total, and it was the most peaceful tranquil place to camp. The farmers who owned the land would come and say hello on their motorbikes before they set off for some cow herding, but apart from that it was just Husband, puppy, myself, and bliss.
The runs I had from here were far less daunting and I had a sandy motorbike track to follow for most of the way, until the road opened up to a gravelly road, which later joined on to a 'proper' (although still small) road. Yep, we were 'out there' and felt respectably off the beaten track. It was exactly 4kms to reach the road, and once on the side of the road (still the grasslands, which covers a HUGE area) you could run left or right to various yurt campsites and streams. My 'usual' run out here was a gentle 11kms run across grass, sand, gravel, and swampy muddy land. The first one was an early one and I kid you not, I ran up to a group of wild horses (what's the proper name for a group of horses?? Do you know?) who swiftly galloped away upon seeing me. Two days later, I ran up to the same group of horses, who this time, did not move. I slowed to a walk and looked at them, trying to tell them 'hey, hello there, it's ok, I'm a friend!' What looked like the main dude, a fairly large white stallion with a long white main and tail walked directly towards me. Shit! Were horses aggressive? Or did he remember me from the other day and had come to check me out? Or, was he hungry and used to humans feeding them perhaps? He got really close (about a metre or so) and we just looked at each other for a while. I then started to carry on walking, and had to walk through the group (as they were all over the path) who seemed to be curious and calm this time, each one moving slightly and looking at me, but not running off like before. So beautiful and amazing to see up close, and I'm not a particularly 'horsy' girl.
We took so many photos of the grasslands, it was hard to choose which to upload here; have a look at the serenity and beautiful countryside that is 'nei menggu':