Friday, August 17, 2012

Wild wild east

Mongolia is amazing! And the nature is simply unbelievable here. I have never seen so many different animals in my life! No matter where you look you can spot a creature you have only seen on National Geographic so far. And most of them are pretty unimpressed by your presence. I love it!

Good news is, we got our visas! And we left Ulaanbaatar a few minutes after getting the last one. There are people who like this city, but we definitely don't belong to this group and were really happy to leave at last. We knew we won't get far that day since it takes hours to drive out of the city, but we just wanted to get away and find a nice camping location just for us, away from the noise, dust and pollution we had to deal with the last few days. And we did find a lovely place, surrounded by rocks, a perfect camping spot! We were preparing our supper when we got the first visitors. A group of horses simply came along to see what's going on. Animals, even the domestic ones usually run free in this country, no lines or fences keep them in place, so we get the chance to see them quite often. It's a great feeling when you wake up in the middle of nowhere and suddenly notice you're surrounded by some funny creatures. You look through the window and see a huge horse head looking back at you or you are woken up by 300 goats, making some impolite noises. It's makes camping in Mongolia even better then it already is. The second visitors came a bit later and then we really were surprised. There, in the middle of nowhere you suddenly get 2 people starting to speak German with you. We were shocked, but pleased. They turned out to be 2 students from east Germany. The girl, originally coming from Mongolia, knew our camping place to be a perfect spot to take pictures, so that was why they decided to stop there and were also surprise to find a German car parked in the middle of it. Once again we found out how small this world is, especially that we met them again 2 days later.

We decided to make Kharkhorin our first goal and I have to say I liked it a lot. It must have looked quite impressive once. Mongolia is not really known for its architecture, so we enjoy the few things the country has to offer. Especially the temples, full of blue scarves and funny looking monuments. The one in Tsetserleg was my favourite so far. Next to a huge rock, with a tall Buddha monument it really was a very nice place. And so was the city itself. Based among rocks, with roofs in all different colours it made much better impression than Ulaanbaatar, so we decided to stay overnight. Especially that we met Gerrit again and found a very nice guesthouse at Fairfield Cafe with flush toilet (it's not a common thing here), hot shower and an awesome breakfast. So we stayed. And shortly after we made this fantastic decision we run into Heidi and Wolfgang (, a German couple we met in Oasis Hostel in Ulaanbaatar, who are on their big motorbike journey for a few years now. We all spend a lovely evening testing Asian beer at the only pub we managed to find.

I have to say this country really is a camping paradise! Lakes with crystal clear water, green spaces wherever you look and often no people around as far as you can see. The only minus point is the weather. Normally it's changing the whole time, so if you are going for a longer walk you should take a sun cream, an umbrella and a really warm jacket, cause the temperatures can change by 20 degrees in no time. I could get used to that, however the changing machine seems to get a bit old and at least this month it very often gets stuck in one position “totally wet and freezing”. The locals say it wasn't raining so heavily for years here, but now they really get a lot of water. And while Mongolian farmers are pretty happy about it, we are hoping for a bit more sun. It doesn't matter that much when you're in a city, but when you're staying at a beautiful lake it is a bit nasty. We have reached Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur (the White Lake) an amazing camping location, but unfortunately it was ice cold and raining the whole time. That is why we gave up our swimming plans and decided to stay in a camp. It feels really great to seat in a ger with a proper fire place and listen to the raindrops outside, spending a nice lazy day, reading, cooking and enjoying the warmth. I can tell you we loved every minute of it. But we were still happy to get a bit of sunshine at last which allowed us to enjoy the surroundings. It was amazing!

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