A Ger in the Country
Trip Start May 30, 2005
129Trip End Sep 30, 2006
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So my organised tour came to a premature end when I elected to stay in Mongolia a bit longer while everyone else continued onto Beijing, I just couldn't rush through a country as beautiful as Mongolia in only four days. I reluctantly left my rather lush hotel room in the morning knowing that I was heading back to true backpackers land, in the land of the $5 bed. I'd recommend the 'UB Guest House' to (almost) anyone, it's cheap, clean, friendly and very central, everthing that you want from a Guest House. The other thing that the guest house specialises in is the organisation of trips into the coutryside, this is a great place to organise such a trip. So with minimal hassle I organised a four day trip to the west of Ulaaaaaanbaaaatar with two others from the guest house
So after saying goodbye to the 3 Americans and 2 Scandanavians from my trip, I was off for a few days with an American and a Scandanavian. Our driver had some unpronouncable name so we had to give him the nickname Arry, which he seemed happy enough with. The first day's ride was 7 hours due west, the road was actually ok despite the stories that we'd heard about the state of the roads here. As much as I'd love to say that something really excited happened, nothing did. We got to our Ger in the early evening and settled down for a little chilled night in. The big event of the next day was our visit to the first monestary ever built in Mongolia, Erdene Zuu Khiid. This was a walled city which contained hundreds of temples before to Soviets instigated the Religious purge in 1937. They destroyed practically all of the temples here, murdering many of he monks at the same time. In order to save many of the artifacts that existed here monks would remove articles and hide them in the hundreds of miles of countryside in the surrounding area
Ok, so back to the monestary again. It was within a white walled area with 108 stupas embedded into the walls. 108 is a very significant number for Buddhists. The few temples that had been restored looked great. It was just a shame that we were forced to take a tour guide around with us (no choice) to show them to us. We weren't allowed to take pictures on the inside because we were too stingy to pay the extra $10 in order to do this. This is something that really annoyed me about Mongolia. If I'd payed $10 everytime I'd wanted to take pictures inside somewhere then I'd be a whole lot poorer. I'm distracting myself again, what can I say, it was really cool, relaxed, chilled.
We headed back to the Jeep again for today's travel
The first waterfall that we saw was superb, set down a little hill, extremely picturesque. Our guide led the horses to the water and they drank! The second waterfall is supposed to be the great one, a drop of 50 feet with water spilling into the pool below. However due to low rainfall this spring this waterfall had dried up. You could still imagine how great itŽd be.
The next day we started heading back to UB. Bump. Bump. Bump. Maybe it wasnŽt such a bad idea that I didnŽt do the 10 day trip afterall! We stopped off at some sand dunes on the way back. Not nearly as impressive as the ones I heard about in the Gobi desert, but great all the same. We even saw some horse bones on the way, including a leg which still had its hoof and some fur intact, yuk. ItŽs a real pain to climb a sand dune, two steps up, one down, one up, three down, two up, one down, one up..... and you get sand everywhere, watch out for the health of your camera if you ever do this. Fortunately the views from the top were magnificent. Hills in the background, a lake over there, more sand dunes in the other direction. We eventually had to make a quick retreat as a heavey rain storm came in to give us a good drenching if we didnŽt get a shifty on
The last thing that we did was to watch the wild ŽPrzewalskiŽ horses at Hustai National Park. These horse used to roam every part of Mongolia and elsewhere but due to hunting and habitat lost they were eventually made extinct in this part of the world. In the early 90Žs a Dutch charity reintroduced them from zoos to this national park, bolstering their numbers every couple of years until they had a core of horses that would be self sufficient. These horses look very vey similar to regular horses except that they have larger heads and their legs are stripped below the knees. It was nice to see them, and they did act differently to regular horses. TheyŽd walk along and nod their heads, apparently this was get rid of the flies that would hang around them. Despite the fact the Julia Roberts had been here a number of years before IŽm afraid the park left me with a small feeling of disappointment. Oh well.
We headed back to UB after this, getting back in the early evening. WeŽd done loads of driving over the previous four days and perhaps on the surface weŽd done very little. Despite this, I had a great time. The 2 others that I went with were great fun, we saw some great things from the jeep, including streams where horses would stand in order to cool off. Our driver Arry was also a great laugh, he had a camera with him which we assumed heŽd only just bought. He was just a big a tourist as the rest of us, taking photos all the time. He was also super obsessed with his car. EVERY time we stopped somewhere heŽd get out his car cleaning kit and clean the car till it shinned. This appeared to be kind of pointless since as soon as we got going again itŽd get covered in dust again.
I still wish IŽd allowed myself more time in Mongolia, but as they say, you live and learn.