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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Mongolia - 7 August, 2003



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Ger at Orkhon Khürkhree waterfall N46º47.047' E101º57.854' 1,822 meters .
Bat Ölzii . . . .
Uyanaga . . . .
Khangai Nuruu National Park (Khuislin Naiman Nuur Nature Reserve) . . . .
Finish Camp at Naiman Nuur lake N46º31.232' E101º50.205' 2,441 meters 176 km

Total (by train):

5,991 km

Total (Mongolia):

1,360 km

Total (Kamchatka):

1,339 km

Total (other):

199 km


8,869 km


Weather: In the morning, clear, sunny, cool and windy.  In the afternoon, partly cloudy, sunny, cool and windy.  Overnight very cold.



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Today will be a long day of hard driving, but we will not cover that much distance as the crow flies (only 31 km), but we have to go all the way around a mountain.  But we still have our relaxing start to the day.  We have our breakfast of bread (with the addition of the yogurt that was given to us yesterday) and then, when we emerge from our ger, we are told that we will have a small concert.


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A local man, who appears to be part of a quartet that has produced some CDs and traveled overseas, has offered to sing some songs for us.  While we wanted to head down to the waterfall, we decide that we can postpone that to listen to what he wants to perform.  It is very good and interesting, the best part being when he plays the traditional instrument (rather than the Yamaha synthesizer) and performs the Khoomi (or throat singing).  This type of singing produces an amazing sound and we are so impressed we decide we will have to search for some CDs of this type of singing when we get home.


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Once he has finished, we have taken some photos and left a small donation, we head back down to the waterfall for another look before we leave.  It is amazing - it is already 9:30 AM and the place is deserted.  It really does seem that Mongolians are late risers.  It is nice to have the whole place to ourselves.


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Once back at the ger, we get ready to leave.  A local horseman is there and everyone is chatting.  We take some pictures, including Polaroids of the nomad and his horse and the people we had stayed with.  Jacqui goes for a short ride on the horse.  Then it is time to leave.


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We make the long drive back down the valley we had passed up yesterday, slowly navigating our way through the lava fields.  After about an hour we reach the small village of Bat Ölzii and turn south up into a valley into the hills and forests.  Once again, we are back amongst trees.  It is a beautiful valley, but a very hard drive up to the pass on a bumpy and rocky track that is lined with purple wild flowers.  We make a short stop at a spring to fill up some of our water bottles with cooking water.


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This must be one of the worst tracks that we have been on and it is in very bad condition following recent rains.  We have to pass over many flooded streams and patches of mud.  As we slowly make our way, an eagle, golden with white stripes on the wings, swoops by our jeep and soars into the sky.  After we have passed over a couple of saddles, we enter an area with no more trees.


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We stop in a town and look for a place to eat, but there is none, so we need to carry on.  At around 3 PM, Gerlee stops at a couple of gers and talks to the owner.  After a brief chat, we are invited in.  They will prepare lunch for us.  They seem to be doing OK - they have a solar panel, satellite dish, radio and TV.


We sit down at the end of the ger and they offer us the usual mare's milk tea and munchies.  We are not sure what we will have for lunch, but something is cooking on the stove.  We cannot get a clear look from where we are, but it appears to be some form of meat.  We soon find out what it is.  The wife hands the husband a large bowl and fork and asks him to remove it.  First come out some chunks of meat - this may be manageable, we think.  Then come out the hooves of a goat.  Now that is more of a problem.  Then, the husband starts to struggle with a much heavier object, and we soon see why.  It is the whole head of the goat - everything from horns to neck.  We start thinking that we will go a little hungry this lunch.  They smack down the meat and head laden bowl on the table in front of us and hand us a large, sharp knife.  We have to politely decline, but Gerlee, with a chuckle, digs right in and grabs a whole hove.


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We are soon relieved to find out that they will be preparing something else for us.  They had just been making space on the one burner stove.  We have a good time here.  We take some Polaroid pictures and they seem very willing for us to take pictures of them and a video of how she prepares our lunch of tsuivan (fried noodles with meat).  As in the other gers, the kitchen is shared with one of the beds and the dough is made and noodles rolled on one bed by the mother, while the daughter chops the meat while sitting on the other bed (she had pulled the meat out of a box from under the bed).  Despite a bit of an elaborate process, they make do very well with the limited space and facilities.


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While we are watching (and video taping like it is a cooking lesson) our lunch being prepared, we are distracted by the cute four year old son that has picked up the long, sharp steak knife and squatted down by the bowl with the cooked goat's head.  With glee, he is cutting pieces of flesh off the head and eating them.  He seems to have a big appetite as he spends some time in this operation.


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Our noodles are soon made and, after the first bowl is symbolically given to the husband (from whom the young boy soon snatches it), we dig in and enjoy.  They are very good, except for the few large pieces of fat that we leave in the bottom of the bowl.  We spend a bit longer here than normal, but it was worth it, leaving just before 5 PM.


We still have a bit of driving to do to get to our night stop, so we push on.  Along the way, we pass quite a few number of gers. They all have stacks of animal dung laid out in their "yards" drying.  We make a brief stop in Uyanaga to top up the petrol.  Just before 7 PM we arrive at the entrance to the Khangai Nuruu National Park (or Khuislin Naiman Nuur Nature Reserve) and pay our park fees.


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It is a short drive to the top of a pass where we get a glorious view down to the Naiman Nuur (or Eight Lakes - we can see only two of them from here).  It is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by steep high mountains on all sides.  The road down to the lake is a steep, winding one.  Just better hope that our brakes do not fail on the way down.


Once at the bottom and near the lake, we spend some time looking for a good spot to set up camp for the night.  It appears that the first spot, near the lake, is too exposed to the elements (namely the wind).  We decide to drive over to an area where a few other tents are set up and try our luck there.  We follow some tire tracks and soon pass the other tents and try to make our way down a bit closer to the lake.  But we end up getting into a swampy area (we could not see all the water due to the grass).


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We get badly bogged in the mud.  The tires just spin and through mud everywhere.  It is time to get out and see what can be done.  It is bad - we are down to the axles in mud.  It is decided that we will carry our gear (tent, food and cooker) up to a dry area and set up camp and prepare dinner.  The other locals that have brought tourists here come over to provide help.  At first, they try to pull the jeep out with their van, but that does not work.  Not enough traction and they do not want to get the van stuck.  Gerlee goes up to a nearby ger and asks for some tools and additional help.  In the end, it appears that they saw up some logs, lever up the jeep and lay the wood under the wheels.  With some pushing and the four wheel drive, they are able to get out.  The sun has set and it is just starting to get dark.


In the meantime, we have set up the camp and prepared dinner, so when Gerlee shows up with the jeep, he has warm food waiting for him.  The other drivers had provided us with boiling water, so we had also been able to make tea right away.  A fire is built and we are able to warm ourselves as the temperature quickly drops.  We are camping at over 2,400 meters.


It is a clear night sky, so we sit back by the fire and watch the stars.  We even see a few satellites pass by overhead.  Soon, the moon begins to rise over the mountain ridge behind us.  It is a beautiful night, but soon we have to head off to sleep.


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