Goodbye Chimgee, Alex, Matt, & Sophie
Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
195Trip End Feb 28, 2013
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Where I stayed
Ger Camp near the Khovsgol Lakeshore
Omega Guest Ger near Khovsgol Lake
What I did
Boat Ride from Khatgal Village
Uushigiin Uver Deerstone and Kherekshures Complex
Northern and Western Mongolia Tour: Days 4 & 5 of 35.
Drove west 20k to see 'Deerstones' then north 135km more; Moron City to Jankhai on Khovsgol Lake's shore where we stayed for two nights.
Moron has no more and no less charm than any of the sizable Mongolian towns we have seen so far. No high-rises. Most wooden houses have red, orange, blue or green corrugated steel roofs that appear to be properly installed. Most houses are set back in a yard behind a 6 foot high wooden board fence. A few of the streets are paved. Most are dirt.
We got fried eggs for breakfast because our guesthouse has chickens! It was a welcome change to the bread and jam routine. After a 9AM grocery shopping stop, we left Moron heading due west toward the archaeological site of Uushigiin Uver. There were no signs or direction boards. The city pavement ended and soon we were driving dirt track. Sereg seemed to spot a landmark and left the dirt path onto unmarked steppe while making a broad U-turn and speed over the flatland. A km or so later, we pulled into a simple gas station for a fill-up. Driving west again over the grassland, we picked up a different set of dirt tracks and began following them. This seems to be the way to navigate out in the country. He stopped and asked directions and continued on. We suspected Chimgee and Serec were unsure of the way. But Chimgee said no problem, they know the way. Alex was the first to spot a fenced in area in the distance just like the Lonely Planet description of the site. 'No no', we were told. It was still up ahead. It took a few minutes but our concerns caused them to reconsider. Soon we were zipping back in the opposite direction and across the grassland back to the fenced in area we passed 15 minutes earlier. Yup! This is it!
Uushigiin Uver Deerstone and Kherekshures Complex (14 3000 year old stones and 300 Kherekshures near this site)
It was fun to be the only ones tramping around the site unhindered with only brief written explanations to guide us. We had to look hard to see the belts, knives and animals on the sides of the stones. But using acute powers of observation, we found them. One story is the ancients believed the deer would take them to the afterlife and the knives and other tools would aid them there.
We loaded up again and drove north on the dirt tracks. We passed what looked like a small mine in the distance. A large new road bed was being built in the middle of nowhere. We followed along the side of it mostly. At times tried driving on top of the new road until we had to take another detour. Was this new road going from a mining site toward Russia? Or were they just improving the infrastructure for the good of the local nomads? That road doesn't go far yet and soon we were back on single lane humpy dirt track.
We pulled in to Khatgal, the main village on the south end of Khovsgol lake. We let our 'kids' (Matt, Alex, & Sophie) out at MS Guesthouse where they had decided to end their stay with us. Low and behold, the Italian group we met a few days earlier were there arranging horses for their big ride around the lake. We said our hellos and goodbyes and started the final 30km to our spot on the lake.
Chimgee said it was time for her to go and the new guide would arrive later. She adamantly refused She jumped into the Russian van with Sereg and they drove off.
We walked over to the shore and watched threatening storm clouds in the distance. Those passed well to the north of us. We took a long walk along the shore while Pancho explored in a different direction. We saw yaks grazing, migrating birds and Mongolians having a lakeside picnic. Then met a guy from UB with two young Russian bred dogs who owns a small house and a few gers on choice spot on the lake that he rents out. His dogs were friendly and rambunctious. We waved at a grinning deel clad Mongol passing by with his horses. We were gone much longer than planned. Back at our ger.
THEN, we met our fiery new guide. Uemaa 'call me Oh-ka' who had just arrived from Moron where she spends the summers. She is 20 year old university student who seem just a bit overly excited to meet us. We chocked it up to nerves and let her chatter away. She started to recite the entirety of Mongolian history back to the bronze age and we had to put the brakes on gently. We were able to calm her down by asking about her studies. She studied Russian language in high school and picked up English on her own. She is studying environmental friendly energy engineering (solar specifically) in UB. Is President of an international student group. Has a 3.6 GPA and did not do well enough on her last TOEFL test. Plans to learn German and study in Switzerland (Germany or France). She seems a bit of a 'know-it-all' and used to getting her way. But she is smart and she is ambitious.
Pancho was not back by dark and Uemaa was worried. We told here no to worry. Pancho is an adult who can take care of himself. She said it was her role to take care of him and asked where he could be. Finally after 10PM, Pancho arrived. He found a Korean group at a ger camp a few km away. He was fed and came back with Korean treats he was saving for later. Slowly we see a different side emerge, he is not into "sharing" but manages to find people who do. Also the enthusiastic smile that was a " constant" on his face during the first few days, has all but disappeared.
Views around our ger are fantastic. Khovsgol lake has azure highlights when the sun hits it just right. Horsemen gallop along the grassy shore and the rocky water's edge gives hours of entertainment, perfect for skipping the stones.
The boat ride was a yawner. We arrived too early, waited around watching the local Mongolian tourists on a 2.5 hour tour. The boat went to a special spot on the lake where everyone proceeded to take pictures of the trees that looked the same as all the other trees lining the edge lake. We presumed it was some sort of lucky or holy spot. The boat turned to return to dock. A karaoke contest was conducted followed by a dance contest. Once back on shore, Michelle was happy to find smoked fish. Michelle bought two small fish for Pancho and herself and Sereg drove us over to MS Guesthouse where we planned to get a hot shower.
We went over to the field and discovered Matt, Alex, and Sophie were still staying at the Guesthouse where we left them. They were unable to get the horses for the trek they wanted to do and were planning to stay one more night at MS before returning to UB.
The hot showers were fantastic and we watched a few more wrestling matches before returning to our ger on the lake.