Byanzag or the Flaming Cliffs
Named by Roy Chapman Andrews, the original Indiana Jones, who discovered dinosaur eggs here. One of the richest fossil areas in the world; it is now closed to Westerners.
My last stop on the Gobi Tour was the Flaming Cliffs. After some photos we went on to the family ger where the others were spending the night. When we arrived I left my things in the van since I wouldn't be staying. I rested for a little while before dinner. After dinner we went up the hill to the flocks to help milk the goats. First they had to be caught…then they were roped together side by side, each facing head to tail. The milker went from one to the next and filled his pail quite rapidly. We each got to try milking a goat, but with little success. It was apparent that this was a tough job; there were close to a hundred goats.
Soko and the driver picked me up at the herd and we were on our way to a ger closer to the airport so I could catch an early morning flight. After dropping me off in the morning, they went back to pick up the rest of the group. The others spent one more day on the road, while I flew back to Ulaanbaatar. I was glad for the
A cheerful place to rest after a busy day
That is the reflection of the circle support in the ceiling of the ger.
This trip was an interesting mix…some roughing it and straining to keep up, and some just relaxing with time for reflection…especially in the early morning when I was able to sit on a hummock on the sand and write in my journal and just watch the small lizards and big black beetles. There was always a gentle breeze and two days in a row Inga brought me a bowl of hot tea where I sat cogitating before breakfast was served.
We had a chance to observe the nomads and their way of life. We saw them in town waiting for the public shower, selling their newly finished gers, buying food staples like rice and flour. We visited them in their summer gers. The men and boys gathered in the evening to play basketball. The young people looked for a place to party. Just after dawn I saw a couple of young boys, home from boarding school for the summer, carrying reins to bring in the camels for the tourists to ride, or going after their horses to follow the flocks.
Very young boys follow the herds on horseback. The
horses are released in the winter and need to be tamed again each summer. One of the tasks for these boys includes drawing bucket after bucket of water from a well to slate the thirst of the herds of goats, sheep, cows and horses.
The family dog is still shaggy with great chunks of winter hair waiting for a thorough combing; it doesn’t seem to be a task that rates doing. He rests near the open door of the ger waiting for scraps to be thrown his way. One woman had a stack of neatly organized fabric cut out and waiting to be sewn on the covered portable sewing machine resting against the wall of the ger. The materials were beautiful coordinated brocades that will become a padded winter robe for her elderly mother.
I learned that the children are potty trained very early, or their parents are…since there are no diapers. Families seem very close because of the small space inside the ger perhaps. Relatives drop in unannounced on a regular basis. They love to visit and play games, talk and laugh together.
Mongolia is a land of contrast and
beauty, definitely worth a second visit.
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