A Travellerspoint blog

July 2007

Leaving Mongolia

Stop thinking and go there.

sunny 37 °C
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After a very beautiful but long drive, due to a “short cut” via a marshland we arrived in our last ger camp. On the way here we made a quick shopping stop at Erdenet city. In this city the Russians run a Copper mine and collect 60% of the profits and the Mongolian government only 40%.
After we settled down in our ger tents we went to visit Amarbayasgalan monastery. This is a very beautiful and big Buddhist monastery and absolutely worth a visit if you’re ever over here in Mongolia.
I’m sad to say that tomorrow we drive back to Ulaanbataar via Darkhan city and we’re going to visit our last monastery in Ulaanbataar, Uran Togoo. This monastery houses an enormous statue of Buddha.
I’ll be sad to leave this country because it’s so beautiful, quiet and houses large pieces of unspoiled nature.
Although there are very few asphalt roads in Mongolia it’s absolutely worth the bumpy rides through this country. So if you’re thinking about a visit, stop thinking and just go, you’ll love it.
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Posted by erodrigo 04:55 Archived in Mongolia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Moron city

Why it’s nicer to visit a local Nadam festival

sunny 28 °C
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Today after a very long drive, 11 hours for 300 kilometres, we finally reached Khuvsgul lake in the north of Mongolia at the border with Russia.

On the way there we made a stop at Moron city to visit the local Nadam festival. Again we saw the 5-year old stallions pass the finish line after their 26 km race and even a horse which had obviously lost it’s jockey, but ran anyway in a horde like manner with the other horses.
We looked at the wrestlers from the jury box and especially the women in our group were very happy because we were close enough to touch these impressive men.
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After all this excitement we looked at the ankle bow archers and we came to the conclusion that it’s better to visit this Nadam than the one in Ulaanbataar, because here you can get so close to the athletes that you can literally touch them, which is impossible at the national Nadam in the capital.
After many days of very tiring drives we had a two day stop at the Khuvsgul lake and saw some reindeer and had a nice two hour long horse drive along the shores of the lake. Some of the brave ones among us had a dip in the very cold lake, which couldn’t have been more than 10 to 13 degrees Celsius.

Posted by erodrigo 04:51 Archived in Mongolia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Big marmots

Why you shouldn’t have them if your driver is a Mongolian male

sunny 28 °C
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Last night we stayed in a ger camp nest to a hot spring at Thenther. After we left camp we had a long drive to Therkhun Taagaan lake via Tsertserleg city. In this city the locals came from all around with their goods to sell their wood, wool, eggs mares milk etc.
Hereafter we left the city and crossed a large wooden bridge, which according to the road sign could carry a 5-ton payload. But it looked so crooked that even our drivers in our light Gaz busses where not planning to cross at the same time.
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But we made across safely and had an very early lunch near Chuluud canyon, which is an impressive piece of natures work.
The plan was to have lunch at one but since in the morning we had a short stop and our drivers had purchased a big marmot they got very excited and instead we stopped for lunch just after eleven. Apparently Mongolian men are just crazy for this meat and can’t resist it.
I got offered to taste it and I must say it tastes very nice; it’s a cross between rabbit and hare. The way it is prepared is noticeable when you eat it. The neck of the animal is cut and they place a lot of very hot stones inside and thus cooking the meat from inside. The way you notice this is that they don’t clean the stones so after your meal you keep eating sand.
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Posted by erodrigo 04:46 Archived in Mongolia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Kharakhorum

How to get pregnant in Mongolia

sunny 30 °C
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Today we left camp to head for the ancient city of Kharakhorum.
Once there we first drove up a hill, next to the city, to hear a story about an enormous penis and vagina.
These were made on the order of the head of the local monastery, because his young monks where only interested in the local women and not in their prayers. Once the priest had performed many mantras and sutras at these reproductive symbols the young monks returned to their prayers again and no longer looked at the local women. At least that is what the legend says.
But as the story goes up to this day women who want to get pregnant, but have problems getting, come in the early morning to these symbols and ride the big penis, because they believe it will bless them.
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We then visited the monastery in the former capital, founded by Chinggis Khan. The monastery was largely destroyed during the communist purge under the Soviet influence of Mongolia. A large part of the monastery has been restored since 1996 and since then there are again Buddhist monks living and studying in the monastery.
On the earlier mentioned hill and outside the monastery there are two huge statues of turtles, which make no sense what so ever because Mongolia has no seas.
The ruins of the former Chinggis Khan capital surround the statue near the monastery. As a big contrast in the back of these ruins and the statue stands a very ugly polluting asphalt factory. Which is a shame off course but can deliver a nice photograph if you stand on the other side of the monastery. From that side it looks like the monastery is on fire because of the black smoke from the factory.
After our visit we headed off north through a UNESCO protected nature reserve and saw our first Yaks. Little did we know that in the coming days we would see more and more of them, together with Yak and cow cross breads, named Hannocks.
It became obvious we where heading north because the surrounding plains and mountain ranges became greener and greener and the nights got colder.
Mongolia, what a beautiful country.

Posted by erodrigo 04:43 Archived in Mongolia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Gobi sand dunes

Three steps up two steps down.

all seasons in one day 25 °C
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We headed off in southern direction to another 5 star ger camp, this time in the south Gobi, near the Chinese border.
Near this new ger camp we finally saw, for the first time this trip, the enormous sand dunes for which the Gobi is famous. After settling in and close to sunset we drove to these sand dunes to climb them. We made a really exhausting climb up a 200-meter high sand dune and admired the sunset from the top. We had a bit of luck on our climb, because of the recent rain, the sand had hardened a bit so instead of going down two steps with every three steps up, we only went down one step with every three steps up.
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Back in our ger camp it started raining again and once in our gers to turn in for the night it started poring.
The next morning, Monday the 16th, the rain had cleared and we headed out of the Gobi on a northerly course.

During the day it started raining again and when we reached our next ger camp it seemed like a tropical rainstorm was upon us. But according to our local Mongolian guide we were one of the lucky groups, through our oneness and therefore able to reach this central camp between the south Gobi and the central Gobi.
As it turned out this camp is situated in a mountain range that separates the north from the south Gobi and is one of the rare crossing points to go north out of the Gobi. Several groups started the climb up to this camp to late and had to turn back because mud floods blocked their way up.

Posted by erodrigo 04:38 Archived in Mongolia Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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