Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mongolia Recap

After the Flaming Cliffs, we headed north. The first stop to the ruins of two monasteries around Ongi (or Ongiin) Temple. The Soviets had destroyed the monasteries, which sit on both sides of a bubbling stream, back in the 1930's (I think). The buildings looked like they had been in ruins for much more than 70 years though.

Then, it was on to the ancient city of Karakorum. The city had been the capital of the Mongolian empire under the Khubilai Khan. Later on, the oldest monastery in the country of Erdene Zuu was built there. A lot of it had been destroyed by the Soviets as well, but there were still some buildings standing, as well as the wall.

We headed to the Terkhiin Tsagaan region and the Khorgo volcano. This was one of my favorite spots. The lake was beautiful and our ger camp location was well worth the extra drive. Sam and I decided that the lake was perfect for swimming. However, we decided to wait until the next morning to take a dip, which may have been a mistake. It was warm and sunny when we go there late in the afternoon, but the next day it was chilly in the morning and after wading, we decided it would be better for after hiking the volcano. The hike warmed us up and the volcano was amazing as well, but when we got back to camp, I just couldn't get the guts up to get past my knees. Sam managed to get in the water and did a few laps in front of the beach!

The last stop before heading back to the UB was to Lake Huvsgul, up near the border with Russia. The lake was beautiful, with crystal blue water, but by that point we weren't sure if it was worth the two days dive it took to get there.

Overall, we saw some amazing places, but it took a very long time to get to them. There aren't really any paved roads (or roads for than car tracks) outside of the capital, or road signs, so it is very slow going when you're driving, and very easy to get lost. Throw some flat tires in there along with some other auto troubles and it took 10 hours of driving one day. I think that until there are roads (or at least helipads, which we didn't see anywhere), its going to take a while for the tourist industry to get too crazy. There are only so many people who are willing to spend so much time in the car and stay in ger camps the whole trip.

+ All my Mongolia photos

No comments: