Hold On Tight

Mandalgovi Travel Blog

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1st morning break
We are now off on 14 days travel around Mongolia.  After discussion with Phil we have decided to extend our itinerary to 14 days by including 2 rest days and the White Lake.  The Dutch girls have decided to head off on their own (with a guide but not with us) hoping to find some families to stay with in the mountains near Kharhorin where they can go horseriding.  At the last minute Bob finds a 4th person (James) who will join us for 10 days.  We're happy for him to join up with us but I'm not sure he knows quite what he has got himself into.

At 9am we set off from the Golden Gobi in UB.  Our guide and cook is Moogii and driver of the trusty Russian minivan is Bayaraa; the van is blessed before we set off by scattering milk on the wheels.
View from the mountain
  Phil has brought with him a video camera and stages the departure so he can catch it on camera.  On the outskirts of the city we stop for petrol and at a supermarket for last minute purchases.  We have already stocked up on "essentials" (biscuits/gifts for our hosts/vodka) so I browse but can't really think of anything more to buy but Phil seems in need of a twix. 

10 minutes down the road the fun begins, we leave the tarmac and head off south on unmade roads towards the Gobi.  We now start to experience what Mongolian roads are really like.  The van has 2 seats facing forward and 2 seat facing the rear. Only the forward facing seats have seat belts, though all but one seat has at least one grab handle to hang on to - and hang on you need to do.
Ruined monastery
  Bayaraa does not hang around, after the 1st hour and a half Phil is looking slightly queasy and we are pleased to stop for a break.  When we stop Phil tries to swap seats with the guide but Moogii is not so easily persuaded out of the front seat. 

A further hour or so driving brings us to the foot of a distinctive mountain.  Moogii tells us that this is a sacred mountain and also famous as the site when Chinggis Khan camped and his wife was kidnapped by one of the other Mongolian tribes.  She tells us we have 1 hour to walk to the top.  Out of the van we notice just how strong the wind is - almost gale force but it is sunny and the climb looks inviting.  James and I manage to walk up a ridge and are probably only 300ft from the top when we decide time is against us and turn back.
Entrance to ruined monastery
  The views are exactly what I had expected, open country as far as the eye can see.

After regrouping at the van we drive a short distance to a local family where we have lunch.   We are welcomed into the family ger with tea.  This is Mongolian tea - salty horse-milk tea, and is something of an acquired taste.  Maybe in 14 days I'll acquire it.  The lady prepares lunch of  noodles and mutton cooked over the single ger stove.  This is a Mongolian speciality called tsuivan and is very tasty.

After lunch we have another 2 hours drive south onto a high stony plateau.  Here there are still pockets of snow and I am reminded that it is still early in the year and the weather can be unpredictable.  We stop at the site of a ruined monastery from where we have good views over the unusual rock formations nearby.
Our overnight stop
  Most monasteries in Mongolia were destroyed in 1937-38 under the communist regime and only a few (not this one) have now been restored. 

Our overnight stay is with a family a few km further on. This family have 2 gers one of which is set aside for us to sleep in for the night.  Again when we arrive we are welcomed with tea - I'll get used to this.  Moogii explains to us a little of ger etiquette, particularly where we sleep.  Important is to sleep with your feet (not head) facing the door.  There is a small tub of water for washing and the toilet is a pit surrounded by a low wall about 50 m away from the main gers.   The stove keeps the ger warm; here they use dried dung for fuel and it gives out a good heat but burns very quickly. 

Moogii cooks us a filling dinner and afterwards we go outside the ger to watch one of the men collecting cashmere from the goats.  The night sky is clear we try to find some familiar star constellations but they all seem different.  To Mongolians the 7 stars of the little bear are the most important constellation as this is almost directly overhead the whole year.

rostovcat says:
Very interesting!!!
Posted on: May 31, 2010
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1st morning break
1st morning break
View from the mountain
View from the mountain
Ruined monastery
Ruined monastery
Entrance to ruined monastery
Entrance to ruined monastery
Our overnight stop
Our overnight stop
Goats making their own way off to …
Goats making their own way off to…
Mandalgovi
photo by: Riz7