Gobi Desert Travel Blog› entry 65 of 125 › view all entries
The last Mongolian excursion brought me to the Gobi desert for 6 days, once again in a Russian minivan, together with 2 Dutch people, Wieger and Suzan. Our driver Ultii couldn`t speak English as well as Shaagaa (after all he`d only been driving tourists around for 2 summers, not 4), but he was great fun also. The scenery was equally beautiful as during my first journey, but completely different. This time, we didn`t camp but stayed in family gers, which was of course a great experience as well. As Suzan and Wieger had to travel onwards to Beijing, we had to do what is normally an 8-day tour in 6 days, so a lot of time was spent in the car. And unfortunately the Gobi dust, or the sudden change of temperature (from cool and rainy in UB to blistering hot in the Gobi), got both Suzan and me a bad cold.
Sometimes the desert gets monotonous, but not quite as much as one would expect. There`s flat areas and mountains, the colours are constantly changing, there are odd rock formations and sanddunes (where we ent camel-riding and sind-sliding), there`s the Flaming Cliffs and Jolyn Am, a national park where I walked along a partly frozen river between 2 high rocky walls, in an area where the landscapes looks so old one wouldn`t be surprised to see a dinosaur.
Some gers we visited were very basic, though all are quite cosy and comfortable, others had solar panels or a generator, sattelite TV, a karaoke machine. But the poor aren`t hungry, and the rich may have taken some things they like from western (or Russian) culture, but they still kept their ancient nomadic lifestyles. And it`s a good life, the only thing that seems lacking is decent healthcare. One of our hosts had recently had a motorcycle accident. He had a wound on his left cheek that had been stiched up, but was slightly swollen. "Doctor" Suzan put some of my disinfecting ointment on it and put a new bandage around his face. We asked him if he was in pain, and he said just a little, but when we gave him a strip of piankillers he took one immediately (and gave us the vodka he`d planned on drinking against the pain in return), so a little pain to a Mongolian probably means a lot of pain to a Westerner.
There is always some sadness involved in visiting ruin, it reminds you that even the greatest civilizations dwindle and fall, and so will our own, but walking around the ruins of a large monastery that would still have been in perfect working order 50 years ago, destroyed by human hands and politics, is far more sad alltogether. What a shame!
When we were almost back in UB, we stopped at a stream and had a car-wash. Goodbye Gobin dust!