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Originally published July 14, 2009.
Just a bit of a summary. This is from memory, not notes.
Day One – Arrive in Ulanbaater, Sunday night. Took a taxi, that happened to have a front seat belt. Also picked up Patrick, as he was delayed a day in China, for bad weather for flying. So we were loaded up with my luggage, Patrick’s and Amber and Essaih (along with Patrick and I). So typical of travel here….just load em up!
Day 2. Did the Nat’l History Museum. Very interesting! Also visited the square where the big statue of Khan is located. Did some fabric and fittings for my “Deel”. Also tried to visit the monastery, but we went the back entrance route. Ate dinner at a modern Mongolian restaurant with Amber’s PCV friends. Ate Hosher! Yum! Also visited the talked with various Peace Corps people at the main office in UB. Nice bunch of people!
Day 3. Our Gobi trip. Final fitting for the deel, then onto the Chulluu place. Where there were some ancient writings on the rock walls, and location of an monastery. Lots of off roading experience. Comparable would be the gully roads in the Big Bend National Park in Texas. Stayed in a ger. I woke up at 2am for my biological break (potty), and there was a lovely no fog, no clouds view of the sky. Again, very lovely!
Day 4. Probably the longest travel day. Lots of mirages with the heat wavering off the ground in long distances. Saw some gazelle, camels, horses, and of course the sheep, goats, and some cows. There are no fences. No one really owns property, so to speak in the “country”. As we were coming late into the ger camp, we decide to put off the dinosaur visit, until the next day. We stayed close to a ger camp, and visited the ger camps hot shower (yeah) and toilet. 2,000 tugriks please! (Tourist price). A little boy on the back of his brother’s motorbike came up to me, as Amber was taking yoga photos of me, and sold me some tourist items (camel, gobi rocks….).
Day 5 (day 3 of gobi trip). Visited the flaming cliffs, home to the discovered dinosaur bones and eggs in 1922. Reminded me of Shiprock, NM, as the rock color was similar. The wind was at the highest levels so far. Hard to stand upright.
Then onto Yolin am glacier and park. Ate lunch with a nomad. She made a living by knitting gloves from camel hair, and other yarns, sewing “deels” from her handcranked sewing machine (photos to come), and various other traditional Mongolian arts. She made us a noodle dish with carrots, potatoes and onions, mixed in with mutton. Very good. The milk tea was a bit for me, but I drank as much as I could. Also had the traditional offering of vodka. She made the vodka herself.
Went to the museum associated with the park, saw the various animals associated with the area, including a snow leopard. Plus the dinosaur bones, and did the little fortune game of sheep bones. (I’m suppose to get into an arguement). Bought some items from our lunch host’s ger store. Purchased a booklet about the gobi national park. Some very good maps and photos.
At the park, saw some shaman leaving, as we were entering the hike to visit the glacier. Apparently, they were there to do a “rain dance” and prayer for rain. They had beautiful outfits. Very errie looking.
Visited the glacier, then afterwards, instead of staying the night at the Yolin am site, decided to travel out of the mountain range to stay close to our next location. The travel out of the mountain was quite an experience. Our drive really knew how to navigate the gully and trenches that we encountered!
We stayed at a soum (little city). Our tour guide found us a home to stay at. We had another wonderful dinner! No mobicom (cell phone service) service, so we couldn’t call anyone. Electricity was out in the city until the morning, so it was slumber until the early morning.
Day 6 (day 4 of gobi trip).
Onto the famous gobi desert sands. The sands are 120 long. Visited the ger camp for lunch, but took a camel ride prior to eating our “boats”. Amber’s camel would like to rub its mouth on my pants, as I was holding it’s leather lead. (ugh!) We switched the order of the camels, so that I’d be in the back, and the guide would be leading Amber’s camel. That worked a bit better! I had the prettiest camel, and only twice did he rear his head backwards to rub one of his humps! After lunch, we traveled another 120km, and stayed at a true nomad’s home. Had another excellent mongolian traditional meal. Arose early to leave for Arvaikheer.
Day 7 (last day of gobi travel) July 4th.
Traveled 200 km to reach Amber’s home town. Lots of off roading roads. Ate at one of the soums en route . Arrived and took showers, made traditional American food (chili, potato salad, deviled eggs and peach cobbler) in Amber’s kitchen. She has a two burner stove with a small oven. Plus a chest high refridgerator (which is rare), plus her water purifier, her water boiler, and various pots and pans. Other Peace Corps volunteers came by and ate, celebrated July 4th, with a good game of “The Settlers of Catan”. Apparently a previous PCV left the game. I brought over the Catan Seafarers and its expansion pack for them to add onto their gaming experience. Really a good game, and you build roads, settlements and acquire resources and such. Amber spent her first year living in a ger.
Day 8. In Avraikheer. Doing laundry with a machine where you put the water in from the sink, then extract the water, put it into a spinner, once the spinning is done, lay the clothes on a drying rack. Amber says it takes her 5 hours sometimes to do laundry, and that isn’t counting the final drying time.
Visited the market for some items for Amber, and to see all the goods. Interesting to see the furniture for the ger’s and the felt, coverings, ropes, belts, inside fabric for the ger and such. Ate at a russian restaurant. Had a hot pocket type thing (can’t remember the name), and french fries! (yea!).
We are going to visit the ancient capital at some point and time.
5/6 days trip
Day 1. Baga Gazariin Chuluu. Drive around 280 KM will see rocky place and Overnight with nomad family.
Day 2. After breakfast drive to Moltsog sand dune. Drive around 270 km and will walking around Moltsog sand dune. Overnight with nomad family
Day 3 Yoliin am Ice Mountain. Not so far from Moltsg sand dune drive around 2.5 hours. Hiking to Yoll valley. Overnight in a tent
Day 4. Drive to Bayanzag (unique shaped trees), and Temeen shavar (Place where dinosours lived millions of years ago). Ride a camel at Bayanzag 1 hour. Overnight Bayanzag ger camp.
Day 5. After breakfast drive to the Erdene dalai. Drive around 280 km nothing to see just overnight place.
Day 6. After breakfast drive to Amber’s aimag.
Including: car, gasoline, english speaking tour assistant who will cook for you, cooking gear, tent, blanket, National Park fee, Monastery and Museums fees, three time meals per day, Ger stay, Short time horse and camel riding , Horse trip with local guide, traditional special food named horhog, fishing equipments
Excluding: extra drinks, take pictures camera fees and travel insurance