Khar Khorin

Thursday 9 June 2005

It feels as if we are so close to the sky that I can just reach up and touch the clouds. This may be because our ger camp and Khar Khorin are located in the Altai Mountains nearly half a mile about sea level. The mountains looked painted onto the horizon, the flat Erdene Zuu buildingstans and greens of the Steppe sprawling out before them sprinkled with white, brown, and black spots that are sheep, goats, cows, and horses. Erdene Zuu was built over the ancient Khar Khorin site with modern Khar Khorin next to it. Inside the 108 stupa wall were several temples as well as archaeological artifacts from the ancient city. Buddhism was very Erdene Zuudominant before the socialist era and is again becoming popular. The older temple buildings in all their color were turned into a museum, then we had a lama gray for us safe journeys and good fortune. Afterwards we met with the school librarians and heard a lecture from the director about the literature and culture of Mongolia during the socialist era. We also stopped at the black market and university. The entire city seems rather run down, although it is supposedly the second largest city with around five thousand people. It was a blessing to be back at the ger camp, the lifestyle is so simple and friendly.

yesterday | tomorrow

Friday 10 June 2005

Another travel day. The horses ran away last night so we will have to wait until the Gobi to ride anything. It took half an hour to Ger campactually reach the Millennium Road from the ger camp, over flat terrain marked only by the few tracks made from occasional drivers. An hour from this to Khar Khorin, then the rest of the way was completely dirt road. What will happen is one path will become miserable so vehicles will “off road” creating multiple paths. This does not reduce the dust clouds however. I have Herdsbeen coughing quite frequently from all the dust, and every time we take a country road, paved or not, everyone ends up with black noses. It gets very hot in the minibus as well with the bright Mongolian sun. No opening the window because of the dusty wind, so we focus more on the beautiful landscapes and roaming animal herds. We were excited to learn the two Belgians, a father and son graduating from college, would b e going to the Gobi the same time as us, so we hope to see them at least on the plane there. Apparently Khar Khorin was only the second largest city in its region because Tsetserleg is the “capital” of this region with supposedly twenty thousand residents. The town is rather nice and lay out better than the other places we’ve seen. It also has trees, a very sparse commodity in the areas seen thus far. Our hotel, while the gers were quite nice, are a blessing as everyone Hotel Simbaneeded a shower, especially with the dust we had just experienced (we had pulled off the road to eat lunch by one of the few creeks when a decent sized sand storm hit). Hotel Simba was established a mere two years ago has a small restaurant, a billiards room, and a bar with karaoke and disco. When we arrived they warmed water for us to shower, another sparse commodity in the rural areas. Id o feel a lot better having the indoor plumbing and clean hair. A good night’s rest will hopefully re-energize me as I get sleepy every two hours (I think from excessive sunlight with it rising around 6:30 in the morning and setting closer to 10:30 in the evening as well as the thin air). Mongols all seem to have very nice singing voices, they are not afraid to sing with everything they’ve got.

yesterday | tomorrow