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Published: July 17th 2010
We arrived in Tsetserleg, said to be one of the nicer aimag towns, but still very ugly, save for some surrounding mountain ranges, and stayed a night in a decent enough room of a hotel. The next day we arranged transport to the White Lake (Tsagaan Nuur), sharing a vehicle with two Americans working with the US Peace Corps, and one's mom and sister who came to visit them. The road was long and arduous and we were in the vehicle for something like six hours or so. It rained and the ground was muddy, we nearly got stuck several times and skidded around. By the evening, we stopped in a ger, had a good feed and better hospitality and made it to the small village near the lake by nightfall. We were lucky because the American's had already organized a place to stay with this lady named Tonga so we went along and checked it out, where they were staying. Tonga spoke great English and had studied in the states for one year. The gers by the lake were all full though so we went back to the village and slept in Tonga's home.
The next morning we hired
horses from Tonga and joined the Americans as they too were riding and heading to the same place. This time however, although the horses were very eager, especially mine, the equipment I had was shit. The problem was my stirrups were too high and I was getting cramped hamstrings and searing pressure in my knees. I kept asking them if they could adjust them but was told it was the longest length. We rode along the lake, infested with flies and this flying grasshoppers I called clickers cuz of the sound they made. Mike's hat had around thirty flies just chilling out so we called him lord of the flies. Jaakko, Alex, Mike and myself were way ahead of the others, as they were taking it easy and had less experience. We crossed a narrow point of the lake on our way to see a volcanic crater, which sounded cool. We came over this rocky pine forest, probably caused by the ancient volcano and had to traverse that environment for a while. Jaakko was irate as he wanted to do some serious galloping. I, on the other hand was ok with it, because when I went to fast my knees
hurt cuz of the damn stirrups! We came back upon a path and noticed the beautiful blue sky was being replaced by black, foreboding clouds. When we got to the base of the volcano, it began to pour. We tied up the horses and scurried into a tented place where a woman was selling fish from the lake, they were delicious and I hadn't had fish for such a long time. We were lucky to arrive when we did because not only was it pouring but also hailing, another incredible sight to see here. The crazy, unpredictable weather of Mongolia! We waited out the storm and then hiked up the volcanic crater, an interesting site with many locals throwing small sacrifices to stone pile shrines.
Once down again we got back to riding, this time I switched horses because the stirrup issue had become to painful for me, but ended up with a much crappier horse. As a result I was at the back of the pack, and as I came over a hill I noticed one of the American girls was laying motionless next to her horse. Everyone rushed to her, her horse had freaked out and she'd
fallen off, landing on her side. She was able to move all her limbs and could breath alright so that was at least positive. The guide called a vehicle to extract her and she was taken to the small town hospital and then back to Tsetserleg during the night. The boys and I continued back to the village and it began to pour again! I was soaked by the time I got back to Tonga's house. Not a great day of riding to say the least...
That night was spent in a ger by the lake, we got a fire going before sleeping but when it went out it got very cold. I was waking up constantly throughout the night. During the day we took it easy, I went walking for a while. We were waiting for a microbus out of here, which turned out to be really late. We gave our best to Mike, who was planning on either heading west or north, and the remaining three of us boarded the uncomfortable bus back to UB, where I'd be spending a final few days before leaving Mongolia.
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