Howdy all. It’s time for another ‘On this day’, and I’m cranking back the yearometer to 2017 this time, when I was on my Trans-Mongolian adventure from Beijing to Moscow via Ulaan Baatar. I wonder where I was on this exact day back in 2017… oh wow! It was the day I went on a bit of a tour in Mongolia from Ulaan Baatar to Terelj! I stayed in a wonderful hostel in UB, and I booked a one night tour with stops along the way to Terelj, a sort of camp which sees a lot of tourists actually out on the Mongolian steppe. Let’s see how my diary remembers the adventure… (I actually wrote this entry in the ger, a Mongolian tent/hut)
From the diary…
Ahhh here I am, I got my night in a yurt! Or a ‘ger’ as they call them in Mongolia. Wow! I’m desperately waiting for the fire to kick in – it’s getting a little cold! Which it’s been all day. The thermometer never got over 5 degrees Celsius whilst in the car. Or presumably out of it!
Lady has just come in – it’s 7pm ish. She’s filling the stove/fire thing with wood. Honestly, I’m not sure how that’s going to work. Hopefully it starts roaring soon and I get warm.
Up at 830am. Breakfast – Mango juice and toast, egg and cereal also available. Had a shower and paid Anad. Packing more manic than I would have liked. Such is life I guess.
Met Katrin – German girl on my tour, just us two and driver whose name I can’t remember. First stop Zaya Hostel number one to drop her bag as she’s swapping hostels, then to Selena Travel where I got my train ticket to Irkutsk. It’s two nights on the train. I’d totally forgotten. Leaving UB at 2035 on Monday.
First stop as part of the tour was the Zaisan Memorial (and Buddha Park according to the Lonely Planet). Still in UB, there was a lot of building going on in the area. The Buddha Park had one statue (gold). The wind cut through us like a knife. It was warm in the car.
The memorial was atop a big hill which required climbing. A tank statue perched as 45 degrees at the bottom and a route from Moscow to Berlin next to it on a wall showed what it was all about – World War II.
So was the monument. Big statue of soldier with a panorama inside a ring of concrete with various scenes depicted. It was built by the Russians to commemorate the ‘unknown soldier and heroes from various wars’. Bought a postcard off a guy selling souvenirs there.
Also got one of the truly monolithic statue of Genghis Khan which was the next stop. On the way we stopped for photos of eagles/hawks and camels. No respite with the weather – in fact we have had light snow on and off all day!
The statue is newish, 40 metres high and you can climb inside it, which is nifty! Expensive in comparison to everything else really at 8500 Togrog and the woman didn’t have all the change and I had to go back and get it after I climbed the statue!
There was a lavish round space underneath the statue. I may have missed a short video about the making of the statue according to the LP and that’s supposed to be a museum. Strange giant boot. Up in a lift and then a few flights of stairs, ended up on the horse’s head looing back Genghis Khan’s face!
After coming down the sky went briefly blue which allowed some better photos and then we were off to Terelj National Park. Which is where I am to stay the night.
It’s pretty stunning, rocky mountains all around, valleys, stuff. LOL. There’s vegetation including trees but we’re coming out of winter here, so everything is a sort of sadly a dreary brown.
First stop was at ‘Turtle Rock’. An interesting, large rock, shaped like… a tortoise. Reminded me a little of the broken heart rock in Kyrgyzstan. Then we came to the ger camp – well there are HEAPS actually. Seems like it’s the thing to do, strangely though – I seem to be the only tourist hanging out here now!
The wind is shaking my ger as I write. Anyway, we checked mine out and then to one across the dusty road for dining. It was bigger. We had lunch shortly after 2pm. Lunch was sort of burek style pastry with meat inside – really nice and soup. 3 of the Koreans didn’t want the soup. Not sure how that turned out for them. Then it was on to the monastery, back up the dirt road to another down another valley. The Aryapala Monastery.
It was up the mountain at the end of a valley = more stairs! Blue skies returned to reveal a stunning view. Lots of Buddhist sayings along the trail to the monastery on signs in English and I presume Mongolian. Loads of people taking selfies too.
Hopefully, as forecasted, better weather tomorrow. Coal on the fire, dinner in my belly = sort of pasta with meat. I sure hope I don’t need number 2s over night! No torch. Going to settle in now, have an early night.
And there you have this adventurous day. For further clarification, the toilet at Terelj wasn’t too far from the ger, but it was a little bit of a walk down the hill with little light. It was a hole in the ground and so I didn’t fancy trying to navigate the squat in below-zero temperatures with no light. I obviously survived the day anyways!
The Aryapala Monastery is beautifully perched halfway up a mountain and you walk this little path to get to it where you see these signs with the aforementioned Buddhist sayings. The perimeter has the spinning things that are typical of many Buddhist Monasteries in the region. A ger is basically the central Asian yurt with a different name, a study round tent with a concrete base that is pretty good at keeping the weather out. Surprisingly though it gets cold rather quickly when your fire dies. But it got so hot overnight when the fire was burning that I had to open the door and let the heat out too!
Anyways, a great day of travel I would say! Thanks for reading. Comments are always appreciated! Take care and…. May the Journey Never End!