Archive for October, 2009

Gobi as far as you can see

First sight of Tracy and Clayton arriving at the airport  in Muron

First sight of Tracy and Clayton arriving at the airport in Muron

Since I published my last blog, Tracy and Clayton have paid their Asian visit.   There were a couple of glitches.  They flew to Seoul, arriving on a Saturday and found that the flight on to Ublaanbaatar had been cancelled due to the worst storm we’ve had since last winter! So they stayed overnight in Seoul and did a little sightseeing before getting a delayed flight out Sunday night to UB.  Then, because there were no seats on Monday they weren’t able to fly on to Muron until Tuesday—so they arrived 2 days late.  That meant only 2 ½ days here in Muron before heading back to UB but we made the most of it.

Some of my friends at the party

Some of my friends at the party

The highlight was a party I held for them so they could meet many of my friends.  At first, I just planned to invite friends to my home for milk tea and homemade cookies.  But when I made out my invitation list, I had more than 50 of my closest friends on it!  One of these friends owns a restaurant here and suggested I have the party there.  It turned out to be a great idea—she also made some of the food (booz and khusher and other items) and I brought my cookies. I wore my deel and was so pleased to introduce Tracy and Clayton to everyone.  Fortunately there were enough English/Mongolian speakers there to help with translations.  We all had a great time talking, eating, dancing, singing.

Tracy giving us the high sign in the mini bus

Tracy giving us the high sign in the mini bus

Friday we flew back to UB and Saturday we left for a week on a tour of the Gobi Desert.  We traveled in a mini-bus with a driver, a “travel assistant” who took care of all lodging and food, and three other travelers—Lis and Rodie, a delightful couple from Holland and another American on walkabout—all three on extended trips in Asia.

Clayton takes pic of us in the bus. Guide to the left.

Clayton takes pic of us in the bus. Guide to the left.

We enjoyed getting to know them—particularly since we generally drove some 8 hours a day to see one sight.

Clayton relaxing on his bed in a ger in the Gobi

Clayton relaxing on his bed in a ger in the Gobi

Each night we stayed in a ger, usually one with six beds around the inside of the ger although the first night, there was only 1 bed so everyone but me slept on the floor of the ger. (Seniors get priority!).

Herder famlies set up gers for tourists

Herder famlies set up gers for tourists

A herder family along the route often puts up an extra ger or so that tourists can use and it supplements their income.

Sun setting over the sand dunes

Sun setting over the sand dunes

It was amazing to us that animals can survive in the Gobi.  Even though the desert is not completely sand dunes, vegetation is sparse as you’ll see from the photos.  Often you could turn 360 degrees and see nothing but flat land right to the horizon with no sign of life.  Occasionally, we could see a white dot indicating a ger and sometimes little black dots indicating herds of animals grazing, mostly sheep and goats and of course camels.

Tracy meditating in the Gobi

Tracy meditating in the Gobi

Sometimes you can see a range of barren mountains in the distance. Temperatures at this time of year were chilly but warm in the sun and cold at night.

An ovoo is a type of shamanistic cairn found in Mongolia, a pile of rocks usually at a high place.  Clayton makes one for us

An ovoo is a type of shamanistic cairn found in Mongolia, a pile of rocks usually at a high place. Clayton makes one for us

Milking goats: tied together in a double line so heads look as if turned 180 degrees. They are very content.

Milking goats: tied together in a double line so heads look as if turned 180 degrees. They are very content.

One of the highlights was going outside at night to “listen” to utter silence and to stand in awe of a skyful of stars, more than you’ve ever seen,

A little Grand Canyon called the White Stupa

A little Grand Canyon called the White Stupa

stretching from horizon to horizon.

Our “sights” included the ruins of a secluded monastery hidden in the folds of the desert, the “Flaming  Cliffs” where Roy Chapman Andrews found dinosaur bones in

The cliffs where explorer Roy Chapman Andrews found dinosaur bones in the 1920s

The cliffs where explorer Roy Chapman Andrews found dinosaur bones in the 1920s

the 1920s, a deep canyon that has ice and snow until July (none when we were there but still impressive), some big sand dunes up against a range of mountains, a mini Grand Canyon, and impressive rock formations.  We watched a group of gazelles

Deep snow and ice through July but now when we were there

Deep snow and ice through July but now when we were there

Herds of camels searching for food and water

Herds of camels searching for food and water

Don't you dare make fun of me!

Don't you dare make fun of me!

truly run like the wind and rode camels at the sand dunes—the Bactrian 2-hump camels are surprisingly comfortable.  The camel is a crazy collection of body parts with a supercilious expression that said to me “Don’t you dare make fun of me”.  We also milked goats and rode horses.  Along the way, we

Readyy to rock on my camel

Readyy to rock on my camel

sampled airag (fermented mare’s milk) and the last night had a khorhog—mutton and vegetables cooked with hot rocks.  To make it a real Mongolian event, we purchased a bottle of vodka in a small town and Clayton poured the cup that keeps getting handed around with everyone taking a sip.  We managed to make it last the required three rounds and finished it off.

Cooking khorhog: mutton, veggies, hot rocks

Cooking khorhog: mutton, veggies, hot rocks

Tracy getting read to ride—saddles are small and so are horses in Mongolia

Tracy getting read to ride—saddles are small and so are horses in Mongolia

A monastery in process of renovation

A monastery in process of renovation

On the way back to UB, we stopped at a monastery being restored and drove through a flock of migrating birds that must have had a million birds in it—our driver drove right into the middle of them (easy to do where you make your own roads).

Migrating birds seen through the windshield

Migrating birds seen through the windshield

It was a good time of year to go—the weather was good and there were few people around (even at peak season I doubt if you’d see many people).

We arrived back in UB on a Friday evening, happy to leave the unpaved roads and long hours in the mini-bus, but sorry to leave our new friends and the enchantment of the Gobi.  Spent Saturday together visiting some handmade shops with craft items for Tracy and Clayton to take home and at 9:30 that night they left for the airport for a midnight flight home to Brooklyn.  See you next year!

Advertisements

October 26, 2009 at 8:27 am Leave a comment


How to get email updates

Recent Comments

Ginny Stopfel on A great way to kick off the ne…
Ginny Stopfel on This is not your normal Christ…

I voted today

I Voted