Friday, June 29, 2007

Erdene Dzuu Monastery

A large wall area

with only these few buildings,

And a large stuppa left standing.
A small temple at the far side of the enclosure houses the few remaining lamas. These are the guys Hazel, our own VSO volunteer, works with in the lama school and on other projects. (see previous blog posting)

Harhorin’s Empire Monument

Three panels show the extent of the Mongolian empire between 1100 and 1300 AD.

Green is pre-Chinggis with blue showing the modern Mongolian land boundary.

The empire at the time of Chinggis’s death in 1227 and the heyday of Karakorum,
and finally, showing the small additions to empire made by Chinggis’ grandson, Kublai, by the end of his life in 1294. Beijing was now the capital of the Mongolian empire. Karakorum practically abandoned. This turn of events still resonates in Mongoian today. The recently built new fa├žade to the parliament building only included a statue of Kublai after a national debate. Kublai is seen as a Chinese Emperor by many Mongolians. A sort of turn coat. But Kublai must have had all his grandfathers qualities times ten. I recommend John Mann’s book on the great man to you. (ISBN 978 0 553 81718 8)

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Town view. This is the site of Chinggis Khan’s new capital city, Karakorum. There is hardly a trace of the granite and marble structures that were once on this site. The city was morphed into the Erdene Dzuu monastery, the walls of which you can just make out in the middle distance.

Amazing this zoom lens. As we saw later, the large compound is practically empty of buildings, again the 1937 lama purge the reason.

The town photographs were taken from the Harhorin’s monument hill, on the opposite side of which is one the rivers that meet here, this one leading to Lake Ogiy to the north. The rivers are probably the reason the capital was relocated here from Avarga, 700km to the East. A lush place this, by Mongolian standards.

Tsetserleg Temple

Seen from the Budda hill behind. All that is left after the 1937 lama purge. The building houses a quite large museum.

as well as being a place of veneration ( is that the right word ? )

The whole place does need a lot of TLC. A slow progress but it will be beautiful again one day.


First stop, the town buddha. There used to be a large temple complex here until it was levelled during the Lama purges in 1937. All that remains is this hill section and the three buildings in the middle of the picture
The statue is new

and work is under way to restore the little temple behind it. Here pictured are our travelling companions. With Gek are Lyn, John, Baysaa and Amaraa. The cheeky lads at the top of the picture part of the crew putting the temple back together again.

Tsenher to Tsetserleg

Mercifully only one hour cross country drive. Tsetserleg is no the other side of the valley. The valley floor is surprisingly flat, as if it had been a lake bottom in the past.

Just before reaching the town there is a river to cross. Actually a series of channels of the same river. It clearly floods on times. Wide area of small, smooth stones skirt the banks of the channels.

Big debate. Elderly man or woman. No definitive answer!! Either way, small horse.

The first view of the town. Typical fenced hasha with ‘prefab’ type homes.


(This will be the last post until 16th July. Off up country!!!)

Horses are everywhere. You cannot escape them. They are parked like cars on the steppes. For every Mongolian there must be more than 100 horses.

They are very appealing. Small but tough and a little feisty.

To see them charge across the steppes with a fully grown man on theirs backs testifies to their stamina.
I know nothing about horses, but the saddle seems to be differently placed on Mongolian horses. Very far forward. Makes mechanical sense to me. All the riders weight is on the horses front legs, reducing the bending moment on the animals back. The rider must feel all the time he/she is going to be tipped over the horse’s head

Tsenher Hot Spring Camp

The 12 hour journey end. Lovely camp. Great food and lovely people to look after you.
The valley is home to herders of yak, goat and horse.

At this time of year, June, there are loads of young animals. Very cute. The mother has what appears to be a blind fold over her eyes but in fact it is there to relieve her from aggravating flies. There were not many mosquitoes but there are horse flies and they hurt!!!! Animals!!!

Visiting Amaraa's Parents.

Aramaa’s parents had just moved from Erdenet to the area we were travelling through just four days ago, a 12 hour journey from the north. How did we find them in this particular Ger on a 1600 square km. plain between the mountains? By going off road. I am sorry, but I will never take UK off roaders seriously again. J. Clarkson climbing a pimple in Wales will not cut it!! When you are on road, you are off road in this land. Going off road here means straight lining it. Is this making sense? But to get back to the parent search…… spot a ger, lets us say 4 km away, head straight for it and repeat the process until someone knows where they are. Simple

Aramaa’s brother looks after the families herds here. The foal had just playfully booted it’s mother on the nose!!!

After some fermented mare’s milk and home made butter on the bread we had brought, it was time to say our goodbyes. I left a tin of snuff for Amaraa’s dad. Surreal to think snuff I had bought in Cardiff was now in a Mongolian ger, miles from anywhere, out on the steppes.

Terns on Lake Ogiy

Vindicated. Terns on a Mongolian lake.

Proof positive. Yes. Enhanced Ger and Tern in the same picture. I challenge you to find the stitches. There are none. Ha!!!

Any bird spotter will tell you this is a Tern. It has a very distinctive glide posture. Very stylish. Bit like a Harrier “jump jet”

Spotted by Ogiy Lake 390 km due west of UB. It is a large lake but is represented by an over sized full stop on the map. See previous blog with map. If you double click on the map you will get a bigger image. The lake is shown under the 259 mileage number.

Track Services

Ger services. Very welcome after 6 hours in the saddle. Least ways that is what it felt like. Saddle sore.

Food cooked to order. All very neat and tidy.

A good chance for us to stretch our legs and anything else you fancied!! My new friend is Lyn, John’s lady. More of him later.

The Journey to the Tsenher Hot Springs

Amaraa with his trusty Land Cruiser. Right from the start let it be clear, the Land Cruiser is a formidable 4 by 4 machine. I have fallen in love with it. Not just an urban nuisance. Out here it is in it’s element. It is king.

This is the main road from UB to Tsetserleg, a major town in Mongolia.

The map indicates that it is a main road. It is shown as red on the map, right? (Double click the map to get a bigger image)

Ok, let me help you out with a little computer trickery. See it now? Correct, multiple tracks only. That is why 520 km took 12 bum numbing hours. People tell you there is no road but until you are on the “no road” you do not grasp the full import of what you are being told. There are no vehicles either!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mongolian Herding

One morning Gek and I watched a herder at work. Fascinating.

It seems that goats are the most trouble some. Cows and sheep moved predictably. Goats all over the place. But what a job.

June Conference 2007

What a cracking place to have a conference. About 1 hours drive from UB, just off the road to Darkhan. There are 10 gers on the camp sleeping four each, which made us the only guests. All the facilities were open to us to use as we wanted. An ideal venue. No other camp in view. Mind you, I had doubts as to whether the bus, a 45 seater. would negotiate the road up to the camp.

But it did. The weather was brilliant but a bit too hot for this outside lunch. For conference outcomes visit .

Most of us climbed the hill behind of the camp. Stunning views all round.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lotus Children's Camp - Terelj

I know that this is a river, could be any river anywhere, but rivers in Mongolia are so rare it warrants a picture!!! And the green stuff, on trees, but

turn round and you see the camp for the children, over 60 of them. And it still looks like a desert!!!! Time less scene.

Rob's Birthday

First stop the stadium. Rob was playing football, but we arrived late and only caught the youngsters training.

Having found our Dutch buddy in the shower, dinner. We in the team clubbed together to get the birthday boy a chess set. He plays a lot of chess with his Mongolian friends. Biagal came up trumps with a lovely glass set. And of course a creamy birthday cake. The nine of us made a cracking evening of it.