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Asia » Mongolia » Gobi Desert August 26th 2019

‘Actually the Gobi isn’t a desert at all’, says Chimeg, ‘it is a semi-desert.’ Chimeg is our guide. She will guide us during our one week trip across the Gobi desert. And she is right. The pictures you usually see make you believe that Gobi desert consists of sand dunes. That is misleading. The sand dunes are only a little part of the Gobi desert. Very photogenic indeed, but the Gobi is mainly a monotonous steppe, frightening even as you can easily lose your bearings. Sometimes you may even ask yourself what for you are here actually. Well, we come here to see the Flaming cliffs, the spot where Roy Chapman Andrews found his dinosaurs, to see the ancient rock carvings and the ice filled gorge at Yolin Am. These are the hotspots of the Gobi, ... read more
Near the old monastery at Baga Gazriin Chuluu
Ibex at Yoliin Am
Near the petroglyphs at Khavtsgait

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 25th 2019

Day 27 to 30 of 80 Footsteps of Chinggis Thursday we had booked ourselves a guided tour out of the city to reach a Chinggis (Ghenghis to us westerners) Khan monument and a National Park. We wanted to make a day of it so chose a tour with a couple of extras rather than a quick out and back. Just as well really. The route to the statue was about 65 km out of town. Regrettably, though, they are rebuilding the main highway in that direction so all traffic, both directions, is being diverted onto the roughest, unpaved, rutted, gravel track - a bit like the 2 border roads we encountered in Georgia /Armenia. But with 'rush hour' volumes of traffic, many of them treating the whole width of the road as a dirt race track. ... read more

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 25th 2019

Day 27 to 30 of 80 Footsteps of Chinggis Thursday we had booked ourselves a guided tour out of the city to reach a Chinggis (Ghenghis to us westerners) Khan monument and a National Park. We wanted to make a day of it so chose a tour with a couple of extras rather than a quick out and back. Just as well really. The route to the statue was about 65 km out of town. Regrettably, though, they are rebuilding the main highway in that direction so all traffic, both directions, is being diverted onto the roughest, unpaved, rutted, gravel track - a bit like the 2 border roads we encountered in Georgia /Armenia. But with 'rush hour' volumes of traffic, many of them treating the whole width of the road as a dirt race track. ... read more
Grand plans
World's biggest boot
Up close

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 21st 2019

Day 24 to 26 of 80 Small mild panic on Monday morning as we arrived early at the station to find our train not listed but train times either side of ours were. Unable to find an english speaking railway person, we started to wonder whether there was something up with our train. But a more thorough search of the station showed a side room listing the long-distance trains, including ours. Phew. Ulaanbaatar is around 500 km from Irkutsk, as the crow flies. Regrettably trains don't fly so by the time it has travelled 150 km from Irkutsk to reach Lake Baikal which is only 70km south, taking 3 hours in the process, and then overshot to past midway along the southern shore for a stop at Ulan-Ude, where the Trans-Mongolian splits off from the Trans-Siberian, ... read more
Baikal
Baikal circum-lake steam train
Mongolian graveyard

Asia » Mongolia » Khovd August 18th 2019

It takes one hour and 40 minutes with the plane from Ulaanbaatar tot Hovd. Hovd is a city in western Mongolia. When we arrive there is no taxi, no bus or whatsoever. Finally we find someone who takes us to the city. I ask how much we have to pay. The man begins to grin. ‘Nothing’, he says, ‘I just go in the same direction.’ Hitchhiking is normal in Mongolia. Our hotel is called Uurgu Hotel. A nice hotel with a good restaurant. But there is one problem. There is no electricity and because there is no electricity there is also no water. ‘It’s in all town and it will take a week’, says the receptionist. The Russians are repairing it.’ Electricity comes from Russia, from Irkoetsk, just North of Hovd. The relation between Mongolia and ... read more
Petroglyphs near Tsenkheriin Agui
Our tent and car
Throat singer Tserendawa

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 8th 2019

Last days Ulaanbaatar was completely empty. But now we know where all the cars are. They are here. On the road heading to Hustai National Park, about 100 kilometers west of Ulaanbaatar. Normally it is one and a half hour driving. Now it takes more than two hours. In the past Hustai was a hunting ground for the last Kahns. Later communist leaders came in for the same purpose. Nowadays hunting is strictly forbidden. The parc houses the last wild horses in the world. The Takhi as the Mongolians say (pronunciation like in technology). We call them Przewalski horses. After two and a half hours driving we turn left. Following a sandroad of 13 kilometers we arrive at the entrance. The tickets cost 25.000 tögrög each, which is about 8 Euro. In the visitors centre there ... read more
Hustai National Parc
Przewalski horses
Przewalski mare with foal.

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 5th 2019

The roads are completely empty when we drive from Chinggis Kahn Airport to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. ‘Why it is so empty’, I ask our taxidriver. ‘It’s because of Naadam’, she says. Naadam is the world famous Mongolian festival, full of horse racing, arching and fat men wrestling eachother to the ground. And ofcourse full of ceremonies and colourful exotic costumes. ‘Usually there are jams’, she says. Indeed several days later we’ll see the city in full action. So bad even that the smog takes my breath away. I’m told that it is even worse in winter, when the smoke of ger camps merge with the exhaust gasses of the cars. But now the air is clean. We are passing modern buildings, wide boulevards with six lanes, flanked by pine trees. Pine trees in the ... read more
Chinggis Kahn
The Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs was before the Lenin Centre
Tarbosaurus bataar at the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 2nd 2019

27 juillet (Lendemain de la tempête de sable) Notre campement d'hier a effectivement été monté au milieu de nulle part. Aucun arbre ni aucun rocher ne s'y trouve pour couper le vent ou pour disparaître le temps de son brossage de dents et de sa toilette matinale. Nos tentes maintenant blessées par la tempête ne pourront certainement pas survivre à une seconde rage comme celle d'hier soir. On passera par la ville de Dalanzadgad ce matin, là où passe la route principale bitumée. Quoique la ville soit la capitale de la région d'Ömnögov, elle n'abrite que 18 740 habitants. On n'y sera que de passage, question de racheter des vivres et de (quel bonheur) prendre nos douches au bâtiment quelconque en béton utilisé comme public shower de la région. Ce nettoyage de corps nous coûtera 1.50$ ... read more
Paysage 1
Van russe
Paysage 2

Asia » Mongolia » Ulaanbaatar August 2nd 2019

30-31 juillet (À Oulan-Bator) Je suis plutôt heureux d'avoir retrouvé la civilisation. J'ai maintenant les recoins du corps propre et mon linge sent finalement le savon. Je profite de ces dernières journées sur UB pour étirer le temps dans les musées et voir les quelques fossiles de dinosaures recueillit dans le désert de Gobi, là où voilà seulement quelques jours, je jouais l'aventurier. Avant de revenir au Québec, je tenais mordicus à manger dans ce restaurant nord-coréen proposé dans des brochures trouvées à l'auberge. Quel intrigue ce Pays. Ce n'est certainement pas à tous les coins de rues de l'Occident qu'on nous offre l'opportunité de s'infiltrer par une brèche, le temps d'un repas, dans le Pays le plus secret de la planète.  Il est 18h30 alors que je me lance la mission de me rendre au ... read more
Familia
Mariage à UB 2
Monastère 1

Asia » Mongolia » Orkhon Valley August 1st 2019

23 juillet Pas trop loin du camps de yourtes où l'on s'est arrêté pour nos deux dernières nuits, un "Yak Festival" s'organise aujourd'hui, réunissant les nomades et les villageois des environs. Décidément, je m'attend à y voir des yaks mais je n'en sais pas plus au moment du départ de notre van russe. Sachant d'avance que l'événement avait lieu, notre Tour au départ d'Oulan-Bator s'est tricoté de manière à pouvoir y assister en matinée. "What's the Yak Festival?" que j'avais alors demandé à Nyamka la guide, sur quoi elle m'avait tout bonnement répondu "Yak". Tout ça fait du sens. ... La fourgonnette approche d'un large champs dans une vallée bordée d'un cours d'eau sale. "Biggest river in Mongolia. Water comes from Baikal Lake in Russia" que nous précise alors Nyamka. Beaucoup de véhicules y sont stationnés ... read more
Orkhon River
Yak Festival
Van russe




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