Camels Are Expensive. Buy a Horse

Now and then, when reading Facebook posts and comments in the various horsey groups I am in, I come across an exciting person. You know what I mean? They only make one small comment but you know they are special. And I don’t mean a whispered ‘special’, either.

I was reading some post that does not even stick in my memory and then started working through the comments under it.

And there it was.

The comment that launched one of the maddest friendships I have had the good luck to experience. I am paraphrasing her comment, by the way, as my menopausal brain fog swirls with force these days…

Ruth Cox – “Oh! That reminds me of when I crossed the Steppes of Mongolia with a horse and cart.”


I had to answer with, “You should write a book!”

“I have. It is in a drawer somewhere.”

“Well get it out of the drawer, woman!”

The book turned out to be Exodus.

Exodus is the true story of how Ruth Cox and her peculiar travelling companions meandered across Mongolia with a horse and cart. Would you like to read this book? You can! Simply click any of the images in the article.

But who is Ruth Cox? Let’s ask her, shall we?

One Horsewoman, 4 Hippies, And Oodles Of Wondrous Cheese

Ruth – Who I am today is a lot different from who I was when I wrote the book! I’ve always been passionate about horses. But now I am a horsey mid-life crisis lady who lives in France with her husband, son, and a crew of animals. There is Nige, the pet pig, Rosie, the Shire horse, Ted, the cob, Ruby, the rescue trotter, Chippie, the mini, and Aphrodite, the donkey to name a few. 

I live a semi-self-sufficient lifestyle growing my own meat and veggies – mostly off-grid. But I’m not overly dogmatic about it and can be found buying biscuits and frozen lasagnas in Lidl.

Ellie – Tell us a little bit about how you had the idea to cross Mongolia by horse and cart.

Ruth – Ok. Well. Um. It was the year 2000 and I was working in Rajasthan with camels. I was a safari guide taking people into the Thar Desert. And I just knew I wanted to travel Mongolia by camel. I have always been interested in the Prezwalski’s Horse and I wanted to do an epic camel trip as I love them. So the idea started there. I took the idea with me and tucked it deep inside my brain.

Then I ended up working in a school in Bangkok for several years. On one summer vacation, I was sitting on the beach on one of the quiet islands telling a group of people I had just met about my idea of riding camels across Mongolia.

And this is how all the travel partners met.

I was discussing my dream and everyone started pitching in saying what a wonderful idea to travel Mongolia and it kind of became the main topic of conversation that evening. With complete strangers, of course. And by the end of the evening, we decided to share each other’s emails and meet in one year because I had to get back to Bangkok for work.

We kept in touch and one year later we met in Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaan Batar.

Ellie thinking to herself – Camels? I thought Ruth went across the Steppes of Mongolia with a horse. More specifically, a horse called Exodus. I need to find out more.

Camels are expensive. Buy a horse

Ellie – Your friends are truly mad. But in a very, very good way. Would you like to introduce them to us?

Ruth – Yes. They were VERY odd. I mean it is just exactly the sort of cross-section of people you are likely to meet at a beach in Thailand 20 years ago. A bunch of hippies really. 

So, we have Mirko and his partner, Katya, from Eastern Europe. Very strong characters who travel the world by bicycle. When I first met Mirko he had a lot of opinions. Mainly he was becoming a breatharian. He wanted to live off light. 

So basically the whole discussion of the Mongolian idea was so I could change the subject as he was making me feel very uncomfortable. 

Then there was Stella, the French chef, who was working at a guesthouse in Thailand. She was listening in on the conversation and came over and said she wanted to come to Mongolia too. 

And then there was her poor boyfriend. This tiny little Thai guy who, let’s face it, was a very chilled pothead who just wanted a quiet island life but had to just go where Stella wanted. So yes, it was a real mix of characters.

Ellie – While reading the book I fell in love with each of them. 

Ruth – We were such a diverse group of people.  But that is what made the whole adventure – the highs and lows and dealing with human relationships with quite extreme personalities. It kind of worked out because everyone had a role within our caravan. But what made it so funny was the rich characters. That’s one reason I wrote the book because I wanted to share about such interesting people. 

Ellie – How did the camels turn into a horse and cart?

Ruth – The first part of the book does show the frustration and struggle; we did not have much money and we did do a bit of camel shopping. But it was just too expensive. I wanted a horse but did not want the responsibility of the others as non-riders. I had been worrying about that as everyone wanted to buy horses. I was concerned about needing pack ponies too. 

Then we met Exodus.

And in a moment of cosmic alignment, everything fell into place. I had not even considered a cart as an option up until that point. It just solved all the problems. 

Mongolian vodka is yakking terrible 

Ellie – I kept getting hungry reading Exodus and will come back to the food side of things later on. But I admit to being intrigued by yak vodka. Am I right in thinking that a yak is just a big hairy, wonky-looking cow?

Ruth – Cow-like but so lovely and hairy ~ I don’t know much about yaks… But I was told they have small testicles – not like yours!

Ellie – Shut up or I will ‘tea-bag’ you. Yak vodka.  Describe the taste and the effects.  

Ruth – Oh, it was such a long time ago. I remember it tasting of … you know … yak taste. There was yak hair in it.

Ellie – Yeah, I know yak taste. Of course I do. Herds of them everywhere in Central France.

Ruth – Earthy. Animally. Tastes like the smell of billy goats. Or maybe tastes like the smell of a yak.

Ellie – A bit like strong farmhouse cheddar tastes like milky cow poo?

Ruth – YES! A bit like farmhouse cheddar tastes like milky cow poo. The same way lamb tastes like the smell of manure. Ok. I need to be more precise about this yak vodka. Cheap, nasty, homemade, earthy vodka . No, no, no – rustic! It tasted rustic!

Ellie – Well done. Did you get drunk on the yak vodka? Did it give you a hangover? Or is it all pure despite what it smells like?

Ruth – Yes, I got happy drunk ~ not inebriated. Mirko drank more. Being drunk suited him. Yes, I had a slight hangover the next day, pure ingredients, but low-budget fabrication.

Ellie – Are yaks ridable and have you ridden one?

Ruth – Yes they are, one looks magnificent astride one’s yak. Yes, I rode Jonny.  But that was in the Himalayas.

Ellie – What were his testicles like?

Ruth – Small.


And there you have it. Possibly one of the oddest equestrian interviews I have ever been a part of. Definitely the one I most enjoyed doing.

I never did get to ask her about the food. But in a later conversation, she did say she would consider writing a companion cookbook to go with Exodus.

Want to learn more about this amazing equestrian adventure?

To explore further just click below…

Exodus by Ruth Cox

Warm regards,


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