The Sands of Time

Lynn woke up refreshed from spending the night in Doya’s summer home in a room with no drafts. Doug, however, fared less well. It seems as though he doesn’t work well with the felt on plywood mattresses that most Mongolians are accustomed to. But, this fact doesn’t get in his way of making the most of the day. The crew gathered in Doya’s kitchen for some bread, Nutella, bologna, and cheese before packing up and heading out on the day’s adventure. We had some added load as well to replace all the food we had eaten from the Mongolia Cosco in the form of gifts. Three boxes of tomatoes were packaged up to be given to Ganchimeg, Otgoo, and the owner of Stone Horse. In addition, another box of tomatoes and two bags of previously picked onions would be transported along with us to Dalanzadgad for Doya to deliver to the temple we visited yesterday as an offering next week. Doya, we’ve learned, does everything. Not only did she help build the temple, she has raised 5 children, was a camel herder for 5 years, is trained as a veterinarian, gardens, and pickles (which are quite tasty as we learned the night before).

Previously we were told that we would see many tourists today as we had not really seen any. So off we went expecting large crowds only to find we were still the only ones. The first stop on the day’s agenda was Mongolia’s Flaming Cliffs. It was here that Mongolia’s prized dinosaur fossils were found but also the area offers striking views of the red clay that comprises the scenery. We did some precarious hiking in Lynn’s eyes along the cliff edges. While Lynn was steadily making her way across the paths, Doug was scaling rock faces in order to get a good picture. Needless to say Lynn was not ok with this, but Doug will be Doug. We admired the view some and headed back to the van where the group spent 15 minutes searching the area for geodes. It seems locals come to this spot to spend days looking for the rocks to sell to unsuspecting tourists, but thanks to Ganchimeg’s diligent eye, we were able to collect some for ourselves.

Flaming Cliffs
Flaming Cliffs
Yes, Doug, the daredevil, is that blue speck
Yes, Doug, the daredevil, is that blue speck

We gathered back in the van and took off once again for another hour long drive before reaching our second destination for the day and one we had been waiting for since hearing the word “desert” – very large sand dunes. It seems as though the plan was to escape the van, take off our shoes, and scale these very large sand dunes and we were all in. With the five of us at the ready, the race to the top was begun and guess who won! No, not Doug! Lynn! MUAHAHAH! Lynn would like to attribute this win to her many many hours spent on Cape Cod beaches. After we made it to the top we continued to play like little children who had not just spent 3 days in the desert. We ran, jumped, rolled, and frolicked. It was delightful. We tried to learn why these dunes were here in the first place but no one knew. They only knew that they were the only dunes in Mongolia.

Sand fun!
Sand fun!

Sandy, we were off again in the van in the direction of the plains and at some point we stopped by a ger where we collected drinking water from the family. Doya knew them, of course.  We drove a short ways away and stopped in the middle, literally, of a camel herd to have a picnic lunch in our van. More ramen, more bologna, more cheese, more Nutella. The camels had their own food so we didn’t share.

Camels, camels everywhere
Camels, camels everywhere

When we were finished we continued the drive until we arrived at the start of our Gobi Desert tour, Dalanzadgad, once again. Upon approaching we drove by what appeared to be a dinosaur-themed amusement park under construction. Nolene was particularly excited about this so Otgoo drove into the parking lot, parked the car, and proceeded to the entrance gate. Using his charm, I’m sure, Otgoo convinced the guard to let us in for a quick look around. We walked through the half-finished sidewalks  and rides to arrive at the dinosaurs and find them built in such a way that allows them to wiggle with the wind. The t-rex’s tail would swivel back and forth. The pterodactyl’s wings would flutter. While not the coolest thing we’d seen all say, we were still thoroughly impressed by the creativity. Wanting to get out of the wind, we hopped back in the car for the quick drive to our hotel. The group unanimously decided that we needed a rest so we headed to our individual rooms for much needed showers and relaxation. We, instead, used the time to update our blog and comment on the interesting state of the hotel. The unoccupied guest rooms’ doors are open and there are used cigarettes behind our night stand. But what really amuses us is its terrible construction. Why are none of the stairs the same height and why does the bathroom door look like it’s been kicked in? We’ll never know, but we appreciate the shower and somewhat softer bed. When we met the group again we had dinner, gave feedback on our trip, and said a sad goodbye to Doya since she won’t be joining us on our ride back to UB (yeah, we are locals now).

Scary dino
Scary dino

Daily Mileage: 3-4 probably

Fun Facts:

  • There are 21 provinces in Mongolia
  • Mongolia observes daylight savings time and it ends on Saturday which will put it at the same time as all of China
  • It snowed last night in Ulanbaataar. Brrr.

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