After an awesome trip through the south of Mongolia, there was only one night in UB and then it was time to explore the north.
Together with one guy from France and two from Australia, Graeme and me started the tour on Saturday. In the morning we met at Meg’s office where the tour should start. As I had to go upstairs in the office to pay for my train ticket to Beijing, for some reason I left my bag with the camera there. I recognized this when I was downstairs again at the car, but on my way back to the office, I heard only that the door is already closed and nobody of the people around had a key…. Perfect start of the tour!
Nevertheless we started with Mishke, our driver, and Uyanga, our guide, towards Kharkorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia. Lunch we had just next to the street and were surrounded by millions of mosquitos. We arrived in the later afternoon at the Museum of Kharkorum, where we saw some interesting monuments of the ancient years and got some informations about Genghis Khan. After the museum we visited the monastery of Erdenee Zuu, which was just next to it. This used to be one of the biggest monasteries in Mongolia with more then 10000 monks.
In the evening we stopped at a nearby Ger Camp and I heard Uyanga, saying my name and also saying, that she has a surprise for me. First I had really no idea, what it could be but then the only thing which came into my mind was the camera. Was quite unbelieveable, but it was really my camera. Meg gave it to a bus driver she knows, who brought it from UB to Kharkorum. At Kharkorum a woman from the ger camp we stayed it waited for the arrival of the bus and brought it to our place. Big Thanks for that!
We spent almost the most next day in the car driving to the Great White Lake (Terkhin Tsagaan Nuur in mongolian). Before lunch we stopped in a city, where we refilled our supplies, containing a case of beer. WIth our new freight on board, we started to drink some of them and had great fun at travelling through central Mongolia. During lunch break in the shadow of some trees next to a river, our driver had to change one of the tires. He told us that someone might have pissed on the street because this brings bad luck to the drivers. We are not aware that anything like this has happened.
A new tire and an awesome lunch later we continued our journey. Around 7 pm we arrived at the Khorgo volcano, which had its last explosion 20 million years ago and due to this, also trees are growing in the middle of the crater. It was a nice 20 minutes walk up to the ridge of the volcano. As certain parts of my body already really hurt due to the long sitting in the car, this was a good relief and change. After the volcano we had another hour to drive until we arrived at our home for the next two nights. Mishke’s friends had a Ger camp just next to the lake. As this ger camp was already full, we had the possibility to sleep in their winter gers, a little bit off the camp.
For me this evening was the time, where I started with the book of a friend of mine, who wrote about someone’s second life. Three days later I should finish the book. Thx Andi. Keep on writing like this 🙂
The next day started with bright sunshine and hardly any clouds. We spent most of the day with reading and just relaxing. In the afternoon some of us went for a wash or even a short swim in the lake which was quite freezing. When we came out of the water a heavy thunderstorm started. After dinner I decided to go for a photo safari and I went up a nearby mountain. In the last daylight and some great pics and views later I came back to our home and found some guys standing in front of our gers. Not knowing what’s going on, I joined them and saw something unbelievable:
One of them hunted a marmot and after filling it with onions, they cooked it with a bunsen burner. 1,5 hours later they told us it was ready to eat. We all went into one ger and one the mongolian guys started to cut it in pieces. First a bowl with all the inwards was passed around and everyone tasted it. After that we started to eat the rest. The meat was quite chewy, but the taste was very good. Tasted a little bit like deer, but also somehow different. After this delicious meal, we had some vodkas and went to bed later on.
With a slight hangover we got up the next day and continued our journey to the North. Would have been the perfect day to sleep in the car, but unfortunately the roads were so bad, that this was impossible. After an unspectacular day in the car we arrived around 7pm at a guesthouse in the mountains. The next day we were finally back in some civilization. Around lunchtime we arrived in Moron, the capital of the Khuvsgul Aimag, where we refilled our supplies at the black market. Also we wanted to buy some beer for the evening, but we were told that on this day, it was a wednesday, it is forbidden to sell any alcohol in this province. Uyanga told us then that we could buy some beer at the lake despite this law. In the afternoon we arrived at our hostel on the shore of Lake Khuvsgul. On our arrival it was raining like hell, but this is one good thing about Mongolia, that it might rain quite heavily, but normally the rain lasts only for one or two hours.
As it cleared up again Graeme and me went for a wash to the lake. With some swearing due to the ice cold water, which was around 10 degrees, we had a short bath and went back to our ger. After the dinner we went to the small shop and bought some beer. In the evening it was party time. Playing cards, drinking beer and vodka…
The first time I woke up the following morning must have been around 6am. One of the guys from our hosting family came into our ger and made a fire as it was raining again and quite cold outside. After some bacon and eggs we went to visit the Tsataan people. This is a very small people, who is living at the North of Lake Khuvsgul, consisting only of 30 families. So roughly 600 people. Main characteristic of this people is that they are breeding reindeer and live most of the time up in the mountains. Only when it’s cold in summer, they are coming down to the lake. In UB we where told that they most probably left already back to the mountains, but we were lucky and they were still at the lake. One of the guys told us that they are participating at a reindeer festival at Moron. On the way to the reindeer people, Graeme was asked where we are going. His answer: “We are going to the reindeer cunts. Because cunts means people in Scotland!” 😀
After taking some pics of the reindeers, we were invited to sit in one of their tents. We had dried yogurt and reindeer milk tea. The milk was fatty, but very tasty. The guy from the family told us that the technical development of the last 20 years made lots of things easier, but nevertheless they are still not using any phones for communication. This is mainly because of the fact that there is no reception in the mountains, where they have up to -60 degrees in winter. So the 20 degrees we had that day where quite warm for them. Also he told us that a german woman is visiting them every summer since eight years, because she wants to learn everything about shamanism. After roughly one hour we went back, had some lunch and a short nap.
In the afternoon it was time for a boat trip. We went to the “Island of wishes”, which is supposed to be a special place in the sacred lake. On the way to the island the sun was shining at it was a nice ride. On the way back some wind came up and it was quite cold and wet. In the evening was not happening too much. I spent the time reading some travel books about Mongolia to check out which possibilities I do have for my last 2,5 weeks in the country.
The following day was very relaxed. The others went horse back riding and I spent the whole day with reading and sleeping. In the afternoon it was swimming time again. Together with Nicolas we went down to the lake. I managed to swim for two minutes, but for him it was too cold. As he showed me a thermometer with the temparture of the lake, I knew, with it was so f***ing freezing cold. seven degrees….
As we all knew, that the next day would be a long day in the car, we went to bed quite early. We got up at 6am and left after a short breakfast one hour later. On the way out of the national park, we visited a sacred tree. After one hour driving, we had to stop for some minutes due to a technical problem with the electricity of our old russian van. Thanks to Mishke for fixing that quite quickly. For the first three hours of the trip we had paved roads and made good progress, but most of the day we spent on unpaved dirt roads, so we were quite happy, when we got on a normal street in the late afternoon again. All in all it took us 12 hours to drive 600km. We had to cross several rivers in the mountains, but with our car that wasn’t a big problem. Around 8pm we stopped next to the road and set up our tents and had some dinner. As we all were very tired we went to bed around 10pm. The next day we had only a four hour ride to UB to end this great trip.
Although the swearing of the scottish and the autrialian guy was from time to time quite exhausting, it was a great, funny trip and an unbelievable experience.