Camels love to rub.

Khongoryn Els Travel Blog

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khongor els

Though it has been a while but I couldn't sleep tonight. So,here is Khongoryn Els at last.

Although Mongolia is vast, it is sparely inhabited by human. So, tourists often run into each other in the middle of nowhere.

We met Ghislain on 28th, at Bagagazyn Uul. He and another Frenchman were on a jeep tour too. We all stayed with the Menesaihung family. For the short time we were with the family, we played spoon, soccer with the host family. The older daughter of the family only 10 but she is one heck of a caretaker and responsible kid. I gave her some Korean candy with beautiful wrapping. She was very appreciative. We parted the next day. When we arrived at Khongoryn, it was in the afternoon. Ghislain had been there 2 days and was leaving the next day.

another fat lizard
It was a nice suprise to reconnect with people you run into previously.

The family we stayed with owns a camel herd and runs a budget tourist camp sorta. They used solar panel to get eletricity but only enough to charge my battery. They were near the butte of the sand dunes. The temperature was quite nice, and hot, a welcome break from the cold at Yolyn Am to me but a horrible time for our Finnish friends, who did not acclimate to high heat. We were quite restless after a long drive, so we decided to explore the area and go to the dune before dinner. The dune was huge but around it, there is nothing, so it seems so close may be HALF MILE.

 The path to the dune was covered with green, lots of green. It was contrary to images of dessert. So, I thought there must be some kind of water source around. I didn't pack any water, neither did everyone else.  We went to look for a water source to play with. What we found was a muddy stream and lots of camel feces. The hike to the sand dune probably is only 3 miles  but the muddy, and the throny bushes (I was wearing capri) made it feel like MILES ! Once we reach the sanddune, we decided to get to the top of the dune. It didn't look so bad at first. We took off our shoes and make the hike. The sand was hot!!! Some part of the dune was compacted sand by the rain, but other part was completely loose.  Half way to  the top, we were dead tire and thristy!!! WE DIDN'T bring water!!! We stopped and rested.
I didn't think it helped much since it was still hot and no shade to hide from the sun, except a few big tall grass. We wanted to hear the sand sing, but the wind condition wasn't right. So we didn't hear anything spectacular except a few gentle hums hear and there. On the way down, I was dying of thirst. Jeff, an experience hiker, didn't bring any water either, but was much faster than me, was way ahead. We joked if he could bring back some water for us half way back.  He went ahead back didn't say anything. While we were hopping from one muddy area to the next, he actually walked back with water. I was suprise by such thoughtful act. Throughout this whole trip, I have experienced all the beautiful parts of humanity, which made Mongolia more beautiful than just a dessert.

That night, it was so hot, we decided to hang outside. I didn't bring any alcohol but our Finnish friends did. They bought Salmiakki vodka, which is a bit like liquorice. I also have some liquorice candy as well. Of course, we didn't leave out any local fare. Jeff secured us some fermented horsemilk as well, airag. The night was so beautiful. Stars were brightly lit from horizon to horizon.

Morning, Ghislain left while we have our breakfast. We didn't exchange info. I was hoping I would see him again in the capital since he would be there the same day I would be. (I wasn't sure if I would stay in the countryside for the next 10days after this group.) The capital is big but same time it is small compare to Los Angeles. Tourists frequently run to the same place for their needs.

After all, I ran into people there the first night I was in UB!

After breakfast, the family was having a little problems getting the camels together. I didn't know what the deal was but I just saw the family kids ran around and bring camels back and forth to the ger. Behind our ger, there was a blackish stallion, not too tall, tied to a poll. This morning, I saw one of the boy ride another horse around that stallion in circle while singing to it. I didn't know what he was doing. But I love hearing him sing.

Finally, around 10, we hopped on the camels and head northward. This is my first time ridding camel. I had a chance to do it in Maroc, but the camel there looked sad and huge, so I didn't want to mount. These camels, they look like little mischieves.

our caravan
They weren't so big,  but still big enough to kick my ass any time they want too. For some reason, my camel loves to rub his face on my leg while we were riding, which freak me out. On top of that, he burried his face in every little green bushes he found along the way! The ride wasn't as enjoyable as I have imagined. The camel back is not as soft as I thought it would be. After all, they have two humps, so I thought I would be getting some lumbar supports and they have huge belly, so sitting on them wouldn't be so bad. But boy, all that trotting, and riding up and down, my behind could not handle all the abrasion. I ended up with a huge rash and sore butts afterward. The road that we took however was amazing. After several days of seeing nothing but red, dried lands, this road to the sand dune was an impressionist heaven.
The irises were blooming along the way. The ground is covered with small yellow, white wildflowers. Everytime I tried to capture a picture, my camel turns his head around to rub my leg, so I couldn't get a good picture of the road.

We arrived at the highest dune around 11 or so. The sun finally evaporated little layers of clouds that covered the road by now. It was hot. This time, I took a big bottle of water. I was determined to climb to the top of the sandune. It looked within a short climb. I started to go up quite fast. But just when I thought I'm at the top, I was nowhere near. I tried about 3 times but gave up when I saw I was high up, exhausted, 2 more steep hills to climb and noone was in sight. Apparently people gave up the hike already. Seeing how one fall step, one slide, I could end up in the middle of sand pocket, I head down.

Yes, wussie i know! but I did finally climb to the top of another sand dune (in CA though). For some reason, heading down, the sand was so hot. I was hopping and stopping so frequent to cool my feet, I actually pour water over my feets and make a little mudd sandals but it didn't work that well. It took longer going down than the climb up. When I finally arrived at the base, I saw a tiny white cloud that reflected the sunlight to create a rainbow cloud. So, I took my camera out. For all the time that I was so carefully protecting my camera, nothing happen. The one time I took it out to capture this beauty, a wind came by so swiftly, lifted a bunch of sand and blowed it directly at me and the camera!!!! The camera seems to function okay after that. We headed back to ger after the sand dune.
iris along the way

I have to say, camel is the most emotional animal. I saw the documentary about bactrian camel before I left for Mongolia, so I know a little bit about them. What I didn't expect is to hear them cry incessantly right outside the ger. One of the baby is missing its mom, so he has been wailing for the mom non stop!!!

This afternoon, our Finnish couple taught me something new. H. and A. are engaged. But what I didn't expect is for A. to ask if H. can pull her armpit hair out. He agreed to do it. But it was so funny to see him hold the twizzer with both hands and the twizzer wasn't steady.

At night, we chilled under the blanket of stars again. This time, I learned how to sing finnish children song and did some line dancing with my new friends.

Overall, Khongoryn Els was lovely even if our host family was not as interactive with us as the other family.

jenn79 says:
you finally updated your blog! These pics are amazing, love..!
Posted on: Dec 03, 2010
RJ82 says:
nhi i cant beleive i havent read this blog!! im gonna read it now. hahaha. great pics!
Posted on: Dec 03, 2010
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khongor els
khongor els
another fat lizard
another fat lizard
our caravan
our caravan
iris along the way
iris along the way
climming up isnt the problem. goi…
climming up isn't the problem. go…
the little vapor of water and the …
the little vapor of water and the…
the host family who believe commun…
the host family who believe commu…
my bed
my bed
singing to the horse prior to nada…
singing to the horse prior to nad…
Khongoryn Els
photo by: Biedjee