On one of our stops I had a nice talk with a Mongolian mother with a son, 5-6 years old. She spoke very good English and answered my many questions and I answered hers. Her son was clearly very curious and stared consistently on me. So I said to his mother that if he had any questions or something he wanted to say, please let him say it. She laughed and said he thought I had so big eyes and they were blue. I understand that is exotic to an Mongolian child as Mongolia faces are different.
Our two last nights in gers were at the Ugii lake and it was an idyllic place. Our camp was on a hill overlooking the lake. There were no trees to be seen.
The lake was an important place for the different herds to have water, and it seemed that that happened in the morning.
The lake was an important resting place for migrating birds.
We saw some of the birds when we drove along the shore.
Ugii lake was a great place as our last stop on the Mongolian country side, something very different and I appreciate that.
Karakorum is an old city and was the capital for a few years in the 12 hundereds. Today it is not much of a city.
We went through the shopping street and many of the shops were actually containers.
In the late 12-hundreds the rulers had a silver tree built. It had four snakes with open mouths around the trunk and an angel with trumpet on the top. When the ruler wanted something to drink he had the angel blow the trumpet and alcoholic beverages came out through the mouths of the serpents. They had reconstructed the tree but unfortunately without the beverages.
Just outside the city was a huge temple-monastery complex inside a wall of stupas.
Inside were a number of temples with traditional interior.
There were monks in one of the temples. I assume they were studying as they were reading loudly and chanting.
Karakorum was in many ways a strange experience. The primitive shopping area compared to the lavish decorations in the temples. The standard of the houses people lived in compared to the size and details of the temples.
It seems that for all religions the buildings for worship are so much more important to people than the secular buildings. (Except may be the quakers).
In the Gobi we visited a family that had a camel herd and that was a very special experience.
I went into the herd to get close-up pictures and the camels could not have cared less. That is with one exception. Suddenly a huge camel came against me with very determined steps. I must admit that I was unsure what to do. What is the right thing to do when a big camel come against you. I stood quiet and the camel stopped a couple of meters in front of me and there he stood and watched me.
It was the alpha male of the herd and I guess he was suspicious to all intruders in his harem. So I had a double portrait taken.
A few of us had a ride on a camel. I did not, I rode a dromedary in Morocco. The whole family was involved.
We had lunch in their ger, the food was not remarkable but the surroundings were.
This was a very special experience and i really enjoyed it. I never thought I would stand face-to-face with an alpha camel male. It was actually worth the whole trip!
The Przewalski horse is the only original wild horse and separated from “our” domestic horse 45000 years ago. It has a different number of chromosomes but can breed with the domestic horse- The specie was extinct in the wild so all living now descend from 9 of the horses living through the second world was i zoos in Munich and Prag. Through a planned breeding program they were reintroduced to the wild in Khustain Nuruu national park in Mongolia where several hundreds roam in several harem groups.
We drove into the park and were able to see the horse.
We visited a family that had horses as their main animal. They were called nomads, but in my opinion they were not traditional nomads that moved around all the time.They were stationary on the plains during the summer and I think they lived in a village during winter.
They had a herd of horses, some with foals.
I had heard of fermented horse milk to be a special drink in Mongolia. The wife showed us how she milked a horse. It had of course a mare with a foal. They first let the foal suck for a few seconds and the foal was very close all the time. Then she could milk.
Then the milk was fermented in cow skin that was never cleaned to maintain the right bacteria. We tasted it in her best silver together with some sort of cheese. It tasted a bit sour and was surprisingly light.
The father and one son were also busy with the horses.
The religion with the most followers in Mongolia is Buddhism, the Tibetan type. So in addition to temples there were holy places with no buildings. Some temples were in cities, but we also visited temples with no neighbourhood.
So we could see statues placed alone like this.
Another type of holy places were without buildings or statues, just marked with pile of rocks or a simple wood construction.
There were offerings on these places. I saw money, food but also more unexpected things like chocolate in horse sculls, steering wheel.
When we came to these holy places we did two things, we put a rock on a pile and there were many small piles and we went around the biggest pile three times following the sun.
On one of the places we had a glass of vodka, first we threw a few drops over our shoulder, then some on the holy place and then we could drink.
This is our local guide with the vodka.
Again the same thing is happening in the countries that have been atheist for decades. Religion is growing and is important to people.