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

Khongoryn Els Up Close Day 1

MONGOLIA | Monday, 23 July 2007 | Views [804]

Baska with the Camels

Baska with the Camels

We were all very excited to finally get on our camels and begin our way into the sand dunes.  The camels we rode, that are indigenous to Mongolia, are Bactrian camels.  They have two humps instead of one.  When you ride a one humped camel, usually you sit upon a little wooden seat that is somewhat like a bench.  When riding these two humped camels, we rode on simple saddles that consisted of folded blankets, and a pair of stirrups that were attached around the camels stomach with a rope.  So we all mounted our camels, and excitedly set out on our two day trip. 
We started out by riding alongside the dunes in some long brush.  As one hour passed, and then two, we were all curious as to when we would get to move into the sand dunes and were really hoping that was part of the plan.  About this time we stopped for lunch, and we had to break out the stove from the bags on our pack camel, and cook up some instant soup.  As we were all busying ourselves with lunch, our guide, Baska, introduced himself and we all did the same.  Baska spoke some English, which was quite nice for us, but at the same time we had a difficult time conveying our desire about going into the sand dunes.  He kept pointing off into the opposite direction, and then gesturing that we would all go back to the ger, sleep there, and head out again on the camels in the morning.  Apparently the note that Bobby had written, either didn't get written, or didn't get into Baska's hands.  Hmm...we showed him our tents and he soon realized we were planning on camping.  We pointed to the dunes.  We saw more understanding.  Eventually we were all on the same page.  We packed up lunch and shortly after, we were all in the midst of sweeping sand dunes.  We were all very happy.  After another 3 hours or so, on the backs of our camels, we were all feeling the burn...not just on our backsides but all over us from the scorching sun.  Don't worry, we were all covered appropriately. Tony's camel, apparently was feeling the burn as well, and suddenly dropped down and rolled to it's side.  Luckily for Tony, he was able to jump off and evade any injuries from his "fallen" camel.  Baska seemed quite calm, and a bit amused, and gestured for Tony to sit back on his camel, and get it to rise again.  Tony did so bravely, and neither one of us envied his situation.  We then came upon a large herd of camels that completely stopped what they were doing and stared at all of us as we passed by.  They looked hilarious; like a crowd of old people staring unabashedly.  We came around a bend and saw some flat ground, this is where we would camp for the night. 
We were all so thirsty that we downed some water and soon came to realize that we had underestimated our water supply.  We had brought five 1.5 litre bottles each, thinking two a day would be fine and we had drank a lot of water before we set out.  We neglected to take into consideration that we would need 2 bottles for cooking needs, plus water for Baska...although he didn't seem to require nearly as much as we did. It became quite apparent that we would only have 1 bottle each the following morning to last us until we got back to the ger.  In order to create some shade for ourselves, we set up our tents immediately and rested...then eventually, all of us went our separate ways to do a little exploring. When the two of us were relaxing back at the camp, we heard an irritated Dave muttering something under his breath.  Elizabeth asked him what was the matter, and he went on to tell her that he had seen the photo-opportunity of a lifetime .  He had seen some camel prints making there way down to a little pond in the middle of the dunes.  In order to attain the picture that would allow him to cash in his winnings as the National Geographic freelance photographer of the year, he schlepped his way back up to the top of the hill and prepared to take his photo.  At this moment, he said Tony and Gregor had showed up.  He asked them to please be careful because he wanted his picture to be just right.  At this moment, Gregor went running down the hill, through the prints, yelling "I'm a Pokemon!" He destroyed the photograph.  Dave was very upset.  Elizabeth tried to comfort Dave by saying, "Don't worry about it.  That photograph has already been done before."  By the look on Dave's face, it hadn't come out quite right.  We decided it might be a good idea to go for a little walk.  By the time we returned, noodles were boiling in the pot, and sauce and tuna were waiting to be added.  As we all eagerly awaited our meal, the memory of the photo-event seemed to fade, and all was forgotten as we chowed down.
As we crawled into our tents, Baska (who had insisted on sleeping outside and seemed very much in his element as he relaxed on some camel blankets) began to sing some beautiful Mongolian folk songs which were the perfect touch to our surroundings.  He asked us to sing for him, and Elizabeth, after a bit of time working up the courage, obliged by singing "These are a few of my favorite things", from the Sound of Music. Her sweet voice lulled everyone into a very comfortable sleep.  

Tags: The Great Outdoors

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