Stuck In The Middle With You
Harhorin Travel Blog› entry 29 of 80 › view all entries
Today has just about everything. It starts with looking out of the ger to find 2 inches of fresh snow and ends with us digging the van out of a bog for 3 1/2 hours!
James is heading back to UB by bus from Kharhorin and Debbie and Jude are also going this way. They have no transport so we give them, and their guide Boogie, a lift to Kharhorin. It is a bit of a squeeze with an extra 3 people but for the 3 hour journey is OK. I'm not sure whether the girls knew when they asked for a lift that they were also signing up for an English history lesson; the ruined monasteries give Phil an opportunity to start a detailed explanation of the rein of Henry VIII and the English Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Kharhorin is the old capital of Mongolia and is not much of a place today, but we do browse the market and shops before Moogi gives us a guided tour of the intact monastery. There are four chapels and they are interesting to visit, but it is the overall setting, particularly the outer wall containing 108 stupas that makes this different. The site is still an active monastery and in one of the temples there are about 40 monks in the middle of a chanting ceremony, they are happy enough for us to enter and circle the chapel as long as we do not disturb them and do not take photos.
After lunch and saying goodbye to the Dutch girls we drive to the other historical sites on the edge of the town - the Phallic rock, the Turtle rock, which orginally marked the entrance to the city and a more recent picture wall that shows the extent of the 3 different great Mongolian empires.
We now have a couple of hours of driving on sealed road (what a relief after 7 days off road) before leaving the main road for the last 30km to the hot springs at Tsenker. About 10km from the springs we hit problems. First the river is higher than normal and Bayaraa has some difficulty finding a suitable place where it is shallow enough to cross. Then in the boggy ground between 2 branches of the river both left wheels become badly bogged. Bayaraa starts to dig the van out and sends us to collect wood to put under the wheels. He uses the jack to lift each tyre and places branches under the left wheels but after 3 or 4 tries with the four of us pushing we are still firmly stuck. Moogi and I go for help at a ger about a km further on and attract a man who rides out to us on his horse.
What an eventful day it has been!