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The Stunning Adventures "Not all those who wander are lost." Tolkien

Khovsgul Nuur, Mongolia

MONGOLIA | Saturday, 7 July 2007 | Views [3144]

A view of Khovsgol Nuur.

A view of Khovsgol Nuur.

From Amarbayasgalant, we headed on to Khutag Ondor, and from there we made our way to Khovsgul Nuur (Nuur is Mongolian for lake). Khovsgul is the second largest lake in Mongolia, it has been noted as being the 14th largest lake in the world. So needless to say, it is quite large. The view of it is astonishing. So calm, tranquil, and pristine.
Greg and I decided that it would be wonderful to take in the views and experience the landscape on horseback. So the two of us, along with our guide Saik Na (who was about 5 foot 4 inches, white haired, with a leathered face, and sparking dark eyes; he was a real Mongolian cowboy...well, I guess the majority of them still are...)  headed out to see what we could see. We stopped at a little local shop and bought some water, some hard bread biscuits, and were on our way. We started by heading up into the hills on the west side of the lake. It was very lush, and forested, and surprisingly quite a bit chilly in the shade. We slowly made our ascent up, going through flower sprinkled meadows and taking in the quiet of our surroundings. We came out of the forest on top of a ridge that looked over a valley, and slowly made a short descent where we found ourselves amidst a multitude of yaks. We came upon one ger, where Saik Na briefly spoke to the inhabitants. We all said hello, smiled, and then started our way through a large clearing where many other yaks and cows were grazing. We continued across to where there was another ger. As we were approaching,we noticed two young girls come running down the hillside. They stopped, looked at us, and ran off giggling. Saik Na guided us up to the ger and ushered for the two of us to get down from our horses. There were a number of little yaks and baby goats. Saik Na walked around to the front of the ger where a young woman came out and smiled at the two of us, then welcomed us into her home. We were given three seats to sit upon and promptly, a little table was placed in the middle of  of us. We were given bowls of homemade yogurt (along with some sugar to add as this yogurt is quite tart), bread, and homemade butter. The kind woman was given our bag of biscuits in return.  We soon noticed a bag hanging to the left-side of the door that was full of a semi-solid white substance, that was dripping from the bottom into a metal basin. We believed this was how our yogurt had been made. While we were eating, the two girls we had seen earlier, came running back into the ger.  Their hair had been smoothed out, and swept back into low pony tails.  It was apparent that they wanted to look nice for their prospective guests.  The two of them had remarkably rosey cheeks as do many Mongolian children we have seen.  The three of us enjoyed our meal and Greg and Elizabeth were quite surprised at how much they liked the un-refrigerated yogurt. 

Elizabeth noticed some photos (in the same kind of frame as was mentioned in the story about Armabayasgalant).  If this has already been mentioned, our apologies, but it was quite incredible to notice the likenesses of some Mongolians at present, and some of the Mongolians in these paricular photos to Native Americans.  Some of the photos were old black and whites.  One in particular framed the faces of two young girls, they both had high cheekbones, and shining dark eyes; each with hair parted down the middle and two long black braids on each side.  In the background was what some might call a "tee-pee".  That's what it looked like to the two of us, but it was a picture of a ger, or a dwelling similar to a ger, many years ago.  It seems quite probable, that at some point back in time, people from this area made their way across the Berring Straight into North America.

After looking at the photos, and all of us sitting together smiling silently, we remembered the baby goat outside of the ger.  Elizabeth gestured and was soon followed by the youngest girl who quickly scooped it up and put it in Elizabeth's arms.  It was such a soft, mellow little creature.  After playing with the goat, we got back on our horses and headed off to the lake.

When we were descending, the hillside got quite steep, so we had to dis-mount and walk our horses down.  We were quite happy about this choice as the two of us were beginning to get a bit concerned about tumbling off of our horses and getting a "quick-entry" into the lake.  We came to the ridge and the view was amazing.  The lake was a beautiful turquoise and almost eerily calm.  We were soon joined by some herders who were quite interested in our camera and we all had a good time taking turns posing for some photos.

As we made our way down, our rears were really starting to get sore in those old Russian saddles (they are quite small for our American asses and made of metal).  The two of us were feeling the burn, or more aptly, the bruises...and raw skin...really.  We jumped off for a breather by the lake and Saik Na excitedly removed his "del"/cloak and gestured to Greg to put it on.  He thoroughly enjoyed checking out his duds on Mongolian clad Greg.  It was great fun...photos to follow.  Eventually we made our way back, and with a few moans, we bow-leggedly shook Saik Na's hand, and then yes, gave him a hug which he warmly received.  

After resting a bit and chatting with our travel companions, we decided that we could both go for a snack before dinner and a "cold one".  Fortunately, we located a little restaurant not to far from our ger (must note, women were selling large hunks of deep red meat out of cardboard boxes right outside the establishment--mmm....perrrfect).  We ordered a couple of khuushur (fried dough envelopes filled with mutton), and relished in our cold beverage as they are quite difficult to come by.  We got a bit carried away with ourselves and soon realized that the woman back at our ger was fixing us dinner by 8:30 and it was now 8:15 so we should get on our way.  As we headed out, we spotted a multitude of women toting plastic bags, and small pieces of luggage that were all packed full.  It quickly donned on us that these were the women we had seen earlier this morning selling crafts by our place--Elizabeth had purchased a lovely traditional jacket made out of goatskin which Greg secretly coveted.  He tried to find a jacket for himself this morning as well, but unfortunately they did not have his size.  After some broken English and some good ol "sign" language, we all had decided to meet back at about 7pm and they might have a jacket for him in tow.  We were late.  Very late and they had left.  But here we all came together, face to face, in the middle of a big dirt road (the main street) with little wooden stores lining each side.  It was like a seller/shopper showdown.  They climbed off their bikes and slowly surrounded the two of us.  The ones that had jackets thought to fit Greg, held them out.  Greg tried them all on, he was torn between two.  He tried them on again.  Elizabeth took photos for him to check-out.  We discussed, he decided.  We were late for dinner.  We ran and our friend Dave had headed out to look for us because dinner had arrived piping hot.  We made our way back and arrived in good time.  The end of another excellent day.

Tags: The Great Outdoors

 

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