Day 161 570 days to go. Distance: today 69 total 8811 km. It’s 10pm Wednesday 9/5/2012 Tsetserleg. There’s a famous Korean singer staying here at the guesthouse and he’s putting on a show for guests as I type. He’s doing an ‘unplugged’ acoustic session and it sounds pretty dam good I might add and very nice background music whilst posting to you fine fine folk. Hi there how are you? We stopped at this cafe come bakery come guesthouse when we first arrived this arv and ended up staying as it’s a comfy place and worth the $15. I bought 24hrs worth of wifi so it’s cool to be able to update the blog and great timing to have a skype with family. I’m very much missing my partner and family so every opportunity to touch base is very precious yay (x). I woke this morning to blue skies and no wind how beautiful. The weather showed off the valley where we camped by the ger. I loved watching the folk do their morning farm choirs like milking the cows and yaks and herding all the animals out to the hills for the day. The folk were again so gracious. I figured this morning who’s who in their family. There are two gers with Mum and Dad living in one and their daughter and her husband and 5 year old daughter living next door. They also have an adult son who is mentally handicapped but happy and does his bit to help run their farm of horses, cattle, yaks, sheep and goats. Before leaving the daughter invited us to their ger. We were treated to a bowl of fresh thick yogurt (called ‘turig’ ). It was served with a plate of thick cream that tasted like buttermilk (called ‘Arum’). The daughter was boiling up the tea mix for the day of milk, water, tea and sugar, on the stove top. They gave us water for our trip (called ‘oss’). We shared some fun photos and their company over breakfast before heading. My sister had asked in one of her latest post comments why gers are round. This is because they are always exposed to such strong wind and weather and the round gers allow the wind to blow past. The most notorious of winds are the northerlys and that’s why gers face south. The furnishings are painted contrasting bright colors but from what Ive seen so far, they appear more manufactured that way as opposed to hand painted. There was a change of countryside today with the rolling hills becoming more sheer and rocky. There were rivers flowing and the plains were green and lush and real horse country. Trees started to appear along the riverbeds and a real contrast to what we have cycled through over the last days. We had a break by a little river by a sheer cliff that was so beautiful. There were hundreds of roosting starlings in the cliff face catching bugs in the thermals. Also nesting in the cliff were hawks and crows and other birds which brought it alive with movement and squawks and wonderful to watch. The river was running clear and full of little fish. We cycled into Tsetserleg and found this cafe. I indulged in a coffee while Kang devoured the biggest bacon, egg and tomato sandwich. We checked out the accommodation and decided to stay. I took advantage of the beautiful late afternoon and still plenty of light, to do some sight seeing. The main landmark is a Buddhist temple perfectly positioned on a hill looking out over town. The ‘Galdan Zuu’ Temple has been renovated with donations given by the locals. It stands behind an impressive 7m statue of the Buddha. Behind the temple is a large, nearly vertical, rocky hill called Bulgan Uul. There’s blue prayer clothes tied on shrubbery and intermittent chorten poles leading up the rocky face to the hilltop. I enjoyed the scramble up very much. The views out over town and the countryside were spectacular. The wind was gale force at the top and was strong enough to blow me off balance. There were wild flowers in rock cravaces on the way up that I enjoyed taking some pickies off as well as many others to capture what is regarded as Mongolia’s prettiest town. There are cows and yaks grazing wild in the parks and grassy spots around town which look so odd but very cool. I got back to the guesthouse to enjoy a picnic of eggs, butter and tomato sauce on the floor with Kang. Well at least that was my menu and he added his assorted bits to please his Korean taste buds. I was then finally able to get a hold of my partner for a short skype which was wonderful. Im missing our time together very much so it was special to touch base. We’ll sneak another session in the morning. West of here is the wilder side of Mongolia which is saying something. I suspect there won’t be much chance now for internet access until the next big town of Uliastay, 546km away. Tetserleg to Uliastay is stage 2 of the cycle west and starts tomorrow yayayayayayaya Thank you Mongolia you beautiful, tough, rugged, remote, wild place and I hope that each day continues to be safe and sound with such adventure jam packed into every long stretch of road ahead !!!!! I hope to be able to upload my photos tomorrow before heading if I have time. I wanted to include the information about Karakorum that I didn’t have time to retype the other day so I’ll end off the post with a copy of that info. I so hope you are enjoying the Mongolian adventure as much as I am sharing it with you. Talk soon x
Hahorin or Karakorum was the mecca centre mid 13th century when Odegei the son of Chinggis Khaan built the Mongol capital here. 40 years later Kublai moved the capital to Khanbalik now Beijing. With the fall of the mongolian empire Karakorum was destroyed. The city remains were used to build the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia in 1586 called Erdene Zuu (A Hundred Treasures). Originally it had between 60 and 100 temples, about 300 gers inside the walls and, at its peak, up to 1000 monks in residence. All but three of the temples in Erdene Zuu were destroyed during the Stalinist purges of 1937 and an unknown number of monks were either killed or shipped off to Siberia and never heard from again. The monastery remained closed until 1965 when it was permitted to reopen as a museum, but not as a place of worship. It was only with the collapse of communism in 1990 that religious freedom was restored and the monastery became active again.