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Mongolia, up to the Siberian border

Deserts, lakes, mountains, temples, museums and lots of animals; Mongolia has a lot to offer

sunny 33 °C
View Middle Kingdom '17 on 2kiwisontour's travel map.

Our 7.30am flight from the Gobi desert was airborne by 7.12am this morning. Not quite sure how that works but it seems to. While in the ladies, I watched an older Mongolian woman, dressed in traditional fur-lined silk garb and leather boots, coaxed into using the automatic hand-dryer for the first time. Initially startled, she became a strange mix of resigned wonder. The world has changed so fast for these aged nomadic herders who still milk their animals by hand.

We left reluctantly as we both thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Gobi. Although we didn't get to see them in the wild, we found dusty old stuffed specimens of sad looking Gobi badger, bear, assorted mustalids (weasels and stoaty things) and snow leopard in a local 'museum'. It is quite stunning to think that this enormous variety of creatures live in such extraordinarily tough conditions -- it is 40C in the summer, and down to -40C in winter. Our guide tells us that about every 10 years, the country has a bit of a whip around to help out the nomads, who's animals have frozen to death due to extra-harsh conditions. How the hell you get more harsh than -40C Siberian winds whipping around your out-house has me perplexed. We take with us the sage words of a bathroom notice: "Please use water carefully. In the Gobi, water is brilliant".

Ulan Bataar on election day. We wandered down to a local bar for a cold beer last evening but were met with a sign that reading "Alcohol free Wednesday", which was somewhat bemusing as it was Sunday. Turns out that from the day before election day all alcohol is prohibited. No-one, least of all themselves, trusts a drunken Mongol with democracy.

On the edge of Lake Kovsghol near the Russian border: Walking through the forests of old pine trees and into the glades you see why the Mongolians paint their town roofs in such a riot of colour. The wild flowers swell in vibrant abundance; small pink ground roses, blue forget-me-nots, purple and pink daises, yellow butter-cups, white sorrel and orange poppies are the few that we can identify. There is a distinct smell of some small ground herb mixed with the pine. Shaggy yaks, horses, goats and sheep graze gently. It is story book beautiful. We have a luxury two story Ger here, with a significant and stone lined bathroom dug into the ground beneath. However, we have to give notice if we wish to shower as they literally need to light the fire to heat the water, and the slant of the floor means we slide down the bed each night. That aside, we have decided that these felted wool Gers are the answer to NZ's housing problems — they are warm, dry, and cheap. And we have plenty of mutton to boil. Sorted.

Posted by 2kiwisontour 19:32 Archived in Mongolia Tagged mongolia yaks gobi_desert lake_khovsgol Comments (0)

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