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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Mongolia - 8 August, 2003

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Camp at Naiman Nuur lake N4631.232' E10150.205' 2,441 meters .
Uyanaga . . . .
Arvaikheer . . . .
Guchin-Us . . . .
Finish Camp northwest of Guchin-Us N4533.103' E10234.927' 1,562 meters 241 km

Total (by train):

5,991 km

Total (Mongolia):

1,601 km

Total (Kamchatka):

1,339 km

Total (other):

199 km

Total:

9,110 km

 

Weather: In the morning, partly cloudy, occasional sun, cool and windy.  In the afternoon cloudy, occasional rain and cool.  In the evening partly cloudy, sunny, cool and breezy.  Overnight cold with a very brief rain shower.

 

 

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After the hard, long evening yesterday after getting bogged in the mud, we have a slow, relaxing morning.  While we pack up our tent and prepare and have our breakfast, we admire the view over the lake.  It is really a very spectacular spot, and it might be nice to spend some more time here, nestled in by the mountains towering over us, but we have other places to go.  We take a brief wander into the forests surrounding us and admire the virgin nature of it.  The floor is covered with huge mushrooms, but we are not sure if they are safe to eat or not.

 

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We depart from here just before 10:30 AM, driving back up the steep, winding road that has been carved into the cliff face.  We take it nice and slow, in low gear.  At the top of the road, we turn off the track to drive up to the top of the nearby peak to get a fantastic view over the lake and surrounding area.  While we are admiring the view, a couple of eagles come soaring overhead.  While they are heading in one general direction, they are getting there by making wide circles in the sky.

 

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Then, it is back the way we came along the bumpy, rocky road.  After a bit over an hours driving, we come to a stream and Gerlee asks if we can stop so that he can wash off some of the mud that was sprayed all over his vehicle yesterday while trying to get out of the mud.  We said, yes, of course and just hung out and watched the yaks graze.  Nearby there is a ger and it is interesting to watch them go and milk the mares.  They walk over to the area where they are grazing and call out some form of cry.  The mares seem to respond to this and come over to a central place where the foals are tied up.  The mares are then milked.

 

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Just before we once again pass through Uyanaga, we come upon a Buddhist alter that seems to have quite a bit of Shaman influence with the blue cloth and other offerings that are piled up there.  After passing through Uyanaga, we make our way to Arvaikheer, the capital of the aimag, arriving just before 3 PM.  First stop is petrol.  We are fortunate and find a place that will sell it to us for Togrog 480 per liter.

 

Then it is lunch.  The first spot we go to seems to be a bit expensive and they do not seem to have real local food, so we decide to try the place next door.  Well, it turns out that we may have walked into a hostess bar or even brothel, but we decide to stay when they tell they can cook up the dishes we are looking for.  Maybe not the best place, but the food is edible and reasonable.  The final stop is at the central container market.  We just need to get some fresh bread and some more water.  We will soon be entering the Gobi, and water will be harder to find.

 

Once we have finished all these tasks, we carry on south towards the Gobi.  The landscape begins to change as we enter the desert steppe. It becomes sandy and dry with very little grass and small shrubs.  Along the way as we drive, we pass no virtually no other cars and we see hardly any gers.  This now seems unusual to us given the many gers that we have en so far.  But it must be hard to raise any livestock here.

 

Just after 7 PM we arrive in Guchin-Us.  Nothing much in this town, except we need to top of with petrol.  we find a station where they sell us petrol at Togrog 650 per liter.  They have no electricity, so they have to us a hand pump.  They crank the handle round and round - hard work.  After the tanks are full, we make a brief stop at the local grocery store (well, what passes for one around here).  They do not have much - mainly some dry goods.  Gerlee seems to be enquiring about where we can spend the night.  On the steppes it is very windy, so either we have to find a ger or house to stay in or find a spot sheltered from the wind to set up our tents.  Standing out in the desert steppe with the sand and dust gusting by, we appreciate this.

 

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We decide to spend the night in our tents and Gerlee says that there is shelter about 30 minutes to the northwest of town.  A bit of backtracking, but worth it.  Better than spending it in some smelly hut.  Well, it takes about 40 minutes to get there, with a bit of driving on crazy terrain to get there in amongst giant boulders and rocks, but it is worth it.  We have great shelter from the wind in amongst the rocks and it is a beautiful spot.

 

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We find a flat and sheltered spot to set up our tent and then begin to prepare dinner.  We are actually able to make quite a nice kitchen out of the step like rock formations around us.  The steps make a great wind break and also act as nice work benches for preparing the food.  As we are preparing dinner, the sun begins to set and we are able to enjoy a glorious sunset.  As the sun sets, the sky slowly turns orange, then bright red and then slowly fades back to orange and then to darkness.  As the sun was setting, a large group of swallows was swirling around in the sky, with the sunset as a backdrop.  What a a way to enjoy our dinner - better than any fine dining.

 

After cleaning up and putting things away, we decide to head off to bed.  No wood, so no fire tonight.  Once again, as the light fades away, the temperature drops.  But fortunately, there is no wind, so it is not too bed, especially in the tent snuggled up in our sleeping bags.

 

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