21 Days In Mongolia

Day 8:

We didn’t have to rise so early today as there were no tents to take down. We had pancakes for breakfast and we didn’t leave the camp until 8.30am and that was only to walk half a km to the Name Ongi Type River monastery remains.  After paying 1000 TG to get in to the museum, a Mongol monk explained all about the monastery and Solongo translated. Once we came outside, we ended up having to wait until 10.15am for the vans to come and pick us up. There was a family encamped just outside the entrance to the monastery ruins and Claire taught 2 children how to juggle. They were really cute.

When the vans finally arrived we were off again, driving through the very flat plains and there wasn’t much to see really.  We stopped in the middle of nowhere for lunch, next to a ger. We asked if we could stop there and eat our food.  The parents of the family were away for a few days, they had gone in to town.  Therefore two older cousins were there looking after the two younger children. Awe struck is one way of describing the faces and reactions of all four youngsters.  We shared our lunch with them and it was obvious that bananas and tomatoes, tinned pilchards or cucumber had never been seen or eaten by them before.  They didn’t like the tomato!  We had feta cheese, spam and pilchard sandwiches today – surprisingly tasty.  The bread always tastes stale though.  After lunch and saying good-bye to the four youngsters who had their cheese and "butter” drying on top of their ger, we were off driving again.

About 2 hours later, we had a short stop at a local shop where we bought a bar of chocolate for 500tg and 2 bottles of water as the water in the containers tasted milky (either from the last spring we had collected it from or because the drivers had used a container to mix airag in!).  We actually hit a tarmac road for about 30 minutes in the afternoon as we skirted Kharakorum town.  However, we carried on driving on the non existent roads towards Kongo Khan.  We impressed Jaagar with our singing to his Abba tape, which a previous traveller had left behind.  Conversation in the van today was about different healthcare systems in various countries, work benefits, Australian films and different types of tarmac!

As we approached the area we were going to be camping in, we could see that the rocky landscape would have great views of the surrounding area when we climbed them.  Solongo told us all about this special area, just before we arrived at our camp spot.  She explained that the area was "home” to 4 types of landscape all within eyeshot. We could see the grassy hills, some desert dunes, forest area and the mountainous landscape.  Another 20 minutes drive after this and we arrived in a beautiful spot where we were to camp for 2 nights.  There were trees, rocky cliffs and this was the first time we put up camp in the warm.  We were early to bed, albeit on a slight incline, but we did sleep well.

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