24.10.11

Transsiberian, Transmongolian ... Mongolia - part 2

After a short return to Ulan Bator after our first tour of the Mongolian countryside (see previous post), we took a local train, a full day, to Sainshand, one of the little towns in the Gobi Desert in the southern part of Mongolia (see map on previous post). During the Silk Road times, there were some important cities here, but not today.

The rains are stopped by Himalaya, but some very limited rainfall in the eastern part (the one we visited), allows some livestock, to large extent camels, but also horses, muttons, goats. The annual mean temperature is -2.5°C (27.5°F) and the January mean is -26.5°C (-15.7°F), but there are extremes of 50°C (122°F) in the summer and -40°C (-40°F) in the winter. There is a great difference between day and night temperatures. There are gazelles, polecats, leopards, bears, wolves… around (we didn’t see any).

There is some ground water and a verly limited number of springs around. Anybody who passes by a spring is supposed to fill the reservoir ... and so we did.

Again driving on tracks – only – we reached the partly restored Buddhist monastery Khamriin Khiid, which used to be an important Buddhist centre with the first Mongolian theatre, a public school, a museum, a library… It was completely destroyed in 1938 during the communist “purge”, but is today again reviving and visited by a lot of locals who spend the night in the yurt camp (as we did also). The camp is surrounded by rocks with caves where monks practiced yogic exercises and meditation. A limited amount of documents and relics were saved in time and hidden before the destruction and they have today been – partly – found and recovered. This monastery is today linked to what Buddhists refer to as Shamb(h)ala - a place which could actually exist or have existed or would be a place which can be reached after long meditation. Today people come here to get “energy”, to be healed from different pains… sitting on the ground, touching the surrounding rocks…

The monks pray during the morning hours. In the afternoon one of the young ones, in a Calvin Klein tee-shirt, joined us. Our driver, who previously had taught traditional medicine (and also is a poet) helped the monk to get rid of a headache.

In the surroundings you can find several examples of petrified wood, fossilised dinosaur bones… and we also met two Swiss camping cars, with families on a three year around the world tour.

Again we overnighted with a family in a yurt. They owned a lot of especially goats and camels … and a ride on a camel was of course compulsory.

On the way back to Sainshand, we also visited the “Black Mountain”, also named Khan Bayanzurkh. A lot of locals come here and, believing that the spirit of the founder of the Kamriin Khid monastery is related to this mountain, they pray and say their wishes - however only men are allowed to climb to the top. I was a bit surprised to find two Mongolian ladies with a bag from a Swedish supermarket.

24 comments:

Olivier said...

les photos du desert sont tres belles, c'est tres depaysant

Simony said...

What a great adventure, Peter!
The memories you collect from life are sure unique, not many people have the chance to see so much.
Thank you for sharing this trip with us.

yoko said...

I like the mountain goats. How was the woman milking the goats in line?

ALAIN said...

Un grand bol de lait de chamelle, le matin, ça revigore !

Peter said...

Yoko: The husband first tied them all together!

lyliane said...

Le désert!!! mais que de choses à voir,des gens souriants et heureux de vivre malgré les conditions extrêmes,des animaux à perte de vue, c'est vraiment le voyage insolite et inoubliable.

delphinium said...

comment??? tu es allé dans le désert de Gobi et tu ne m'as rien dit?
J'apprends ça comme ça au détour d'un blog qui normalement parle de Paris.
Je ne comprends plus rien du tout.
:-)))))

Des montagnes noires?
Toutes noires? elles sont toutes noires?
all black(S)???

gnirk gnirk

ParisBreakfasts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thérèse said...

A se demander ce que les animaux mangent pour donner du lait ainsi!
As-tu vu le film "the story of the weeping camel?"

Zhang said...

Tes photos me font rêver, tout simplement !!! C'est bien toi sur le chameau, avec des barbes? Mais j'ai du mal à te reconnaître. C'est vraiment toi?

Cergie said...

C'est vrai ce qu'il dit Alain, tu as ramené une chamelle ? Cela a été trop vite, je n'ai pas pu vérifier toutes les bosses.
Le désert j'adore surtout pour trouver ses aises qd on est une fille, pour les garçons il faut faire attention juste au sens du vent.
Je crois que j'aurais aimé passé beaucoup de temps en cet endroit ! Peut-être un petit séminaire ?

Paris Paul said...

You look very at ease on a camel, young man! And the Black Mountains look neither very mountainous nor very black.

Shambala! There's a word you don't hear enough. My goal today is to use this once and not be noticed...Wish me luck.

Shambala, Peter!

Bagman and Butler said...

What a great trip and you make it so interesting for your followers as well. Wish I had been there. I've been sort of away too but mostly painting and fixing up the house to put it on the market. Yuck. Good to hear from you on my blog and I don't understand why Blogspot suddenly has these choices which make it difficult for people to comment.

hpy said...

As-tu gardé ton bouc?

sonia a. mascaro said...

WHAT A FANTASTIC AND AWESOME TRIP, PETER! What a great adventure you had!
I enjoyed so much all these videos. The goat on top of the table in the kiosk looking the wonderful view is just breathtaking!
As always you did GREAT POSTS about your voyage to Mongolia and took WONDERFUL PICTURES!!
I wish I had been there...
Thanks for sharing this wonderful trip with us.

Maria O. Russell said...

Fantastic post, Peter!

ALAIN said...

Quand vas-tu nous parler de la gastronomie Mongole ? Je suis sur que toutes tes admiratrices attendent impatiemment des recettes !

Starman said...

Do they actually wear those costumes, or is that just for the tourists?

Maria O Russell said...

Is that really young Indiana Jones on a camel at 6:55?

claude said...

Tout cela est fort intéressant, Peter. Merci de ce partage.
Dans le temps j'avais un dico qui disait à
dromadaire : chameau à une bosse
et à chameau, on pouvait lire, dromadaire à deux bosses.
C'est idiot, non !
C'est un peu comme mon, histoire du dromadaire qui rencontre un chameau dans le désert. C'est impossible, mais le dromadaire dit au chameau : "alors, ça bosse !" et le chameau lui répond : "ça bosse, ça bosse :"

Shionge said...

Epic journey Peter.....what an experience and yes the camel ride hehehe.... :D

Flartus said...

Wow, wow, wow...I just caught up on the last three posts and I'm am blown away by your adventure. How wonderful to get way off the beaten path. Truly fascinating; I thank you again for taking us along!

Nathalie said...

J'adore toutes ces images du désert de Gobi. Je connaissais le nom mais je n'avais aucune idée à quoi ça ressemblait. Ca donne envie d'y aller. Intéressante, la coutume de remplir un réservoir d'eau à chaque fois qu'on y passe !

Nathalie said...

Oui vraiment, de toute tes séries sur ton voyage c'est celle-ci que je trouve la plus étonnante, la plus belle, la plus dépaysante, la plus passionnante.