Published: August 27th 2006August 27th 2006
Bataar our driver
At night on the sand dunes - Gobi
Apartment life getting you down? Feel like a prime rib but just can't make it down to the deli? Pet sheep getting just a little big for it's boots? - Well a Mongolian is the guy for you! He can come round, kill, butcher, and have George stewing in a pot full of hot rocks in a little over an hour. All within the comfort of the lounge (or ger) and without getting a drop of blood on the floor. If you get his wife to come round you could also expect some tasty offal sausages in with the deal.. mmm spectacular!
Hi to everyone :) We got back from out tour a couple of days ago and have drinking and recovering pretty solidly since then. Soph and Andy, you'll be pleased to know I found a partner in crime to dance till 6am - and yesterday was a coplete write-off ;) we have a couple more days in UB to sort out visa extensions, then will hopefully head off hiking again for the rest of our time here.
Mongolia is a great place. Shamanism is very real and strong here. It's a religion based on the natural environment
Bataar, Dorich and crew
At night on the sand dunes - Gobi
- and for mongolians particularly the never-ending blue sky. This speaks both for the beauty of the country (which to be honest we have in NZ), but also for the fantastic peoplewho are happy with life and truly respect and rarely take for granted the place they live in. Tat said, sitting in UB al the moment with a smoggy sky and the dirty streets & buildings - city dwellers definately buck the trend.
We've covered 3000km of 4wd track in the past 3 weeks. This is the national road network and is hard on the cars and occupants - there was the occasional injury and we lost one vehicle to the Gobi. Needless to say they got way worse after my previous blog.
Overall it's been choice, and the tour actually worked out ok. judging by stories of previous trips, the odd difficult person can make it fuckin' awful. all-up our group was pretty level, probably just not the most confident travellers - but hey, i'm new too. There was plenty of vodka and more than enough beer - NOT that it was a drinking trip ;) Mongolians know how to make vodka, and make a pretty
good effort at drinking it - that said, we've seen more than one local/driver carried away from the campfire.
I'm sick of mutton.. I'm sick of potatoes and carrots.. and the last time I tasted airag (fermentd mares milk that tastes like it sounds) I was so violently sick te entire night I endd up dozing in full wet seather gear curled up on the cold grass and woke up to local dogs fighting over my night's efforts. The world according to a mongolian works by grass growing, then animals eat the grass and you get fue, alcohol, clothes, games, building materials, and what you can't use for this you eat - nothing is wasted. A guy growing vege's is a tourist attraction, and our local drivers were much happier snacking on their flame-grilled sheep's head than our olive, capsicum, tomato and feta lunches.
Hmm.. this is getting long. highlights?
- Sitting with Batar the driver, resting against each other, and speaking semi-Mongolski as friends
- watching life and being watched in the Aimag (town) markets
- wandering through a ruined monastery in the early morning sun and listening to the prayers of the few
- drinking, singing and joking with locals on 200m high sand dunes on a beautiful, warm Gobi night
- waking up in my tent, in my sleeping bag, with pack, in Mongolia
- my yak-wool hat
- taking a horse treck and hik up one of the hgher mountains in one of the most remote places in the world
- days like this (from my diary) "It's ben a fairly long drive today, but well worth it! We're at the river now and it's sunny & warm & the water is SO nice & a jet flew over and cast a shadow where it was going like a reverse vapour trail. James & i sat in the river with beers and just let the water drift by. The landscape from Moron to here has been the most trippy of the whole trip, I've been listening to the Pumpkins and looking out at the most vibrant, lush desert landscape - like the video for "today" with the icecream truck in the desert but real. we ad lunch in moron and a bit of a wander round the town. I love it, I love watching
how Mongolian life goes. totally crazy. My beard is getting huge! and speaking of crazy, the hitchikers we picked up todaythat used their injured friend to get the ride then left him.. didn't factor in any "Mongol delay" time to get to their flight.. and got left in the middle of no-where with 4hrs till take-off. good luck."
- watching the eagles glide effortlessly in the warm air
- Mongolski song
- drunken wrestling matches - a way of life as drinking games may be to kiwis :)
H and I have had some tough times & I ended up sleeping in my tent as opposed to the shared ones provided, just to give us some space - it's going to be interesting hiking with just my little tent! Still ok though, and to be honest he's had a tough time healthwise, being a light sleeper, having two separate stomach bugs, twisting his ankle, and the other hay sitting down to take a dump on a stinging nettle ;)
anyway everybody, you're probably bored and I've got things to do. Really I just want to say I'm happy, well, not yet broke, and this place
Our Khongo Kahn campsite
we spent two days here climbing and hiking round the rocks.
has stolen a part of my heart. Keep well and enjoy the kiwi rain - and snow!! :)
There are more photos below