I am at home now after the last seven weeks wandering about China, Tibet and Mongolia. I was less than impressed with the northern region of China, but as a gateway to the amazing places in Tibet and Mongolia it was a necessary evil.
Here are some of my favorites from the last 7 weeks. Look forward to the next adventure on the John Muir Trail here in California! 225 miles of backpacking through the Sierra Nevadas! Good times and sore feet expected…
I won’t go into vivid details, but leaving her was harder than I ever expected. One of the most astounding people I have ever met. As much as I was ready to be home, I am here now and alone…
Essentially today consisted of getting back on a train to spend 30 hours going the other direction back into China. Lots of snacks and Ipod time.
Today consisted of a day of recovery back in Ulaan Bataar, I really didnt even drag out my camera for more than a few minutes.
Karakhorin was once the capital of the world, essentially. When Chinggis ruled Mongolia, the rest of Asia and parts of Europe he did so from here. Now nothing remains of that capital, and what is left of the city is a tiny settlement of almost no consequence. Although they do have one of the more spectacular Buddhist temples (with quite a few stupas) that I have came across in my sojourn through northern Asia.
Aside from having a history lesson, today consisted of a long and bumpy car ride back through various tiny towns back into Ulaan Bataar. By 8pm when we arrived and were checked into out guesthouse (which was actually a mattress on the floor in the owners den, because the rest of the rooms were full), weariness had set in and the rest of the evening was spent washing clothes and eating a dinner composed of leftover camping food.
In an attempt to limit the amount of stuff I am going to pile on my blog at once, from the lack of internet connection for the last 10 days I am going to just give you a few pictures and nothing long or elaborate as far as stories go today. In addition nothing happened, other than some hiking to a hilltop monastery, some hot springs, and a night of excessive sandstorms.
GPS 47’11.981 (N) 102’50.527 (E)
Just when I think I have done so much in the world, I wander across one of the worlds most pristine camping spots right next to an amazing gorge with a river trickling down the middle. To top it all off, the German girls driver, Bolt, decided to make a peace offering for the stench he has brought to the van by roasting massive quantities of goat for dinner, using hot stones and a bucket. The dogs enjoyed it too!
Easily one of my favorite days in Mongolia so far, of course my first half a liter of Chinggis Khann vodka and Minute Maid orange drink didn’t hurt in bringing me to this conclusion.
GPS 47’00.711 (N) 102’16.005 (E)
It’s the only thought that was able to cross my mind as the 14th blasting gust of sandy wind pummeled us from the window of our over-crowded aging Russian beast. The German girl’s driver also decided to crowd his was into our van, sitting on a pile of pillows at Felicia’s and my feet. 10 hours in the car like this and the sight of Arvaikheer was a welcome relief. It did take us a three tries to find a hotel with hot water and a shower, but finally after some haggling we found one large room with five beds and one shower. Slightly refreshing.
As I left Gobi Bear territory this morning a tear fell from my eye…. No Bear for me.
GPS 46’15.941 (N) 102’46.724
Today is our first day in a week that we haven’t had to pack up our bags and move on to somewhere new, although with the insane afternoon sandstorms we ended up huddled in our ger for a few hours anyhow. The break was exceptionally deserved after what the morning did to my ass.
The morning, before the winds set in, was filled with a couple hours of riding an angry, stinky, camel through the scorching sun. It is almost as fun as it sounds.
In the evening a pair of German girls found us in our ger, and after a sorrowful tale of their escapades of broken car stuck in the middle of the desert and a pissed off driver we all agreed to let them tag along (sharing some of the cost of our tour price!) with us for the next few days on our way back towards Ulaan Bataar. The Russian pimp-mobile is going to be crowded.
GPS 43’49.415 (N) 102’23.489’ (E)
The Mongolian population doesn’t actually believe in roads of any sort, everyone is just required to have four wheel drive then plow through the countryside creating fresh tracks. About half the time we are driving along with absolutely no road of any sort, and the other half of the time we are in the tracks that were created a few days before by the last bunch of tourists in a 4×4.
From time to time, our driver will pull over at some random ger, mumble at us in Mongolian then go inside for 10 minutes (I assume he’s having a cup of tea). He’ll then come out with a smile on his face, jump in the front seat and point off in the distance at some hill, herd of goats or vast expanse of nothingness and happily tool away with us in a new direction. A very interesting way to travel.
After five or six hours piled in our van, we made it to the base of Khongoryn Els (Some giant sand dunes) where we found another Ger camp to sleep in. Tomorrow is camel riding through the dunes!
GPS 43’49.415 (N) 102’23.489’ (E)
-Went to an ice filled valley in the middle of the sweltering desert where we got slightly lost and turned a three hour hike into five. We ran out of water and never got to eat luch. When we got back to our Russian jalopy, we found our driver unconcernedly sleeping in the back of the van.
-Visited Bayanzag (i.e. The Flaming Cliffs) to take a few pictures. Fortunately we were running late so the sun was low in the sky, hence making the cliffs “flame”. Reminded me of Utah a bit, come to think of it, much of the Gobi reminds me of Utah. Dinosaur bones everywhere, harsh summers and freezing winters, and endless desert.
-Found an awesome campsite in the middle of a Saxual forest, set up our tents and started making dinner. Only to find we were sitting in the middle of a Giant Tick breeding ground. Tucked in pants and shirts became a must to fight off the largest ticks I have ever seen. Searched myself a few times, after the small one I picked up in Calilegua National Park in Argentina I really don’t feel like having an insect burrowed in my skin again for a while.
GPS 44’8.311 (N) 103’43.667 (E)