Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mongolia, Khovsgol, Part 3 of 3 - August 9

This is part 3, the last part of my Mongolian adventure. 

I can't believe I actually went there. It's so different and also not the usual travel destination.

After coming back from the south, I spent a few more days in Ulaanbaatar, trying to recover from my food poisoning. I met up with Angie and we went shopping to the Black Market at the south east end of town. We braved the bus system and got there just fine. 

I was looking for a tent, leather boots, and pants.

This was the entrance to the huge market. There were lots of fruit vendors. I bought a plum. It was incredibly tasty.

The next day, after a stressful flight and ticket mix-up, I ended up in Moron, the norther city and start of my car journey up to Khovsgol Lake.

As you can see, the roads continued to be lacking. 

The landscape was completely different than from UB or the south. It was very mountainous, with lots of trees and very crisp and fresh air.

At some point, we came across a newly built section of the road. WHOA!! It felt heavenly to be driving on smooth paved road. It soon stopped and we had to get back to the bumpy and windy dirt paths.

We were not too far now. The edge of the lake is just ahead.

And then we kept driving. In total, we drove for 4 hours like that. It was insane.

Eventually we reached our destination.

There were yaks everywhere. They were checking things out.

This was their young boy. A super cute kid.

The horses were prepared and ready for riding.

As night came, I set up my new tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, and got ready for sleep. But, before I did, I went outside to see the starts. WOW!!! I've been in places where there are not artificial lights, and have seen many stars, but I never saw the sky like I did that night. There were SO MANY stars. EVERYWHERE!! You could see shooting stars very frequently, you just had to look in one direction for 30 seconds, and you'd see one. And since there were no mountains or trees or anything to obstruct my view for a very long distance, the whole HUGE sky was just above me, from left to right. It was incredible.

In the morning, the baby yaks were gathered to help with the milking.

The family had slaughtered a goat a couple of days before, and had hung up some meat to dry.

Sitting inside the ger, boiling milk, and curious cows were gathering, trying to look inside and determine the source of the milk smell.

Natural yogurt. The best yogurt I've ever had!

Then we hoped on an ox cart and went off towards the horizon. 

We were heading to that green peak on the right. We couldn't go straight because there are marshes and streams and the lake. 

At the top of the hill, there were these things where the Mongolians would put the blue or white or green or red or yellow scarves, each representing a different prayer. 

The view was stunning. The water was incredibly clear.

We had a delicious lunch overlooking the lake.

Then on the way back, we came across a herd of horses, and they were so curious the came right up to us.

Here is a small video of them.

That evening, we had a fantastic meal. I helped with preparing those dough rolls. 
In the pot, there were the bones from the goat, with potatoes, and after the initial boil, hot rocks were added to continue the boiling.

When done, this is how it was served.

The bone with meat on it, a potato, a roll of the dough and a knife to cut and scrap the meat where your fingers and teeth can't do the job. It felt very primal, but incredibly fulfilling to eat like that.

There were a lot of these flowers everywhere.

The next morning, I said goodbye to this wonderful woman, and together with her husband and another traveler named Dani from Holland, we went on our horse riding adventure.

First stop were the Reindeer people. There weren't many of them, it was just one man in his tent. They actually don't live there. They live high up in the mountains, where their reindeer can eat the proper vegetation. But this family came down in this area for a few weeks with two reindeer so that they could make some money through the visiting tourists. They are incredibly poor, but very hardy people.

This is Dani.

That's me. You can see my awesome boots. I felt like a cowboy/cowgirl. I had my awesome hat, jeans with the Mongolian belt I bought in UB at the black market, and my fantastic leather booths.

This was the reindeer man. He was smoking from a really cool pipe he'd made himself from a special branch from a special tree.

This was our guide, getting the poor reindeer ready for some pictures.

They are so soft.

Look at that cute nose!!

We went for a walk around there. It was a beautiful day.

We took a few breaks. The saddles weren't the most comfortable to sit in. We only went for a bit more than 10km, but still. My butt was sore after that.

The pretty horses. Mine was the white one behind the tree.

Our guide taking a nap.

And then, we arrived at the second place. This time it was a small log cabin, not a ger. It was very unusual because there were a few cabins built very close together, in comparison to the usual spread out placements of the gers. here, there was a little fence around the property, and the neighbours were just 15 or 20 meters away.

This was the outside cooking area. That stove is the main cooking method in the country side. 

Out here is a little sink. You have to put the water in that container yourself, but then you can turn on the tap and you have "running" water :).

Another super cute yak.

And this is my trusty awesome tent. It's bright orange, and you can see it from VERY FAR away.

I bought this cool knife from one of the locals who came by with her merchandise. It's yak horn. Not sure how true that is, but it's pretty and a nice souvenir.

The very cute lady here is boiling milk and helping it froth up to make the most delicious milk by product ever. 

It's called Urum, and it's the skin off of the milk after it's been boiled and let to cool down. It's so creamy, and slightly sweet because of the yak milk, but on bread with some jam is absolutely do die for.

Here she was cooking dinner lunch. The food up in the north was much richer, with more flavour and well, just better in general.

Sitting outside, having my giant bowl of rice, potatoes, carrot and goat and a bowl of Mongolian salted tea.

I was extremely lucky to arrive at the time I did. This family also slaughtered a goat a couple of days ago, and their whole family came for a fantastic feast. The bones with lots of meat was cooked the same way. Potatoes, carrots and hot rocks.

This is what we got. WHOA!!!!

The last day I just relaxed, read my book and slept. I didn't really want to do anything else.

Then, in the morning, the driver came and drove me back to Mororn to the tiny airport.

The "roads" from above.

I found this horn in the Gobi. It must have been from a 7 year old wild goat. You can count the nobs on the horn, similarly to counting tree rings to determine it's age. I tried to take it with me, or send it by post, but it was not possible. I left it at the hostel I stayed at, and if I ever go back, I'll make sure to take it with me.

All in all, this was a fantastic trip to an incredibly preserved country. I hope I will someday go back, and experience more of it's culture and landscape.

No comments: