Monday, October 15, 2007

Mongolia Day 2

Woke up bright and early, mainly coz the sun was streaming in through our little tent window. Had a lovely night's sleep... well as lovely as I could get sleeping on the ground, but my sleeping bag was so WARM! I actually had to take layers off in the middle of the night. Hooray for good quality sleeping bags!! Breakfast was of bacon and scrambled eggs on toast. (Hooray for our gas stove and pots and pans!!)

Bleary eyed and tending to the bacon SLURP!!

Packed up and headed into the Hustain National Park to try and catch a glimpse of wildlife and the takh - Mongolia's re-introduced wild horses and the last remaining ancestor to the modern-day horse.. The takhi are very shy and we were lucky to get as close as we did. Was slightly disappointed at the fact that apart from the takhi, marmots (which scrambled off too fast for me to take photographic aim), eagles and vultures were the only other creatures I was able to spy (oh and the mostly intact skeleton of a deer). Didn't realise that the red deer, gazelles and lynx were up in the mountainous areas - far far away. BLEH!!!

Headed back to the ranger's office for a spot of horse riding. I made sure our guide translated the importance of me having a gentle horse, but I guess she did too good a job coz the horse I ended up with not only didn't trot, it kept bloody stopping every 5 steps to EAT!! I swear a snail would've overtaken us at the rate we were going!! So while JJ and our guide went cantering up ridges, I was left to fight with my horse. The saddle I had wasn't very comfy either. A piece of leather was placed over a mongolian saddle (which is basically 2 slats of wood tied together) and that just kept biting into my thigh bone. JJ thankfully suggested we swap horses so I could get the rush of a faster moving beast. But took pity on him soon after and swapped back coz he looked like he was in pain on that saddle :p Enjoyed an hour of meandering and then it was back into our Delica and off in search of our next camp site.

Decided on a nice level spot at the foot of a stone hill (to block out most of the wind) not too far from the Mongol Els which is like the mini Gobi desert but with sand dunes. Scurried down to some dunes to catch the beautiful sunset which gave me lots of opportunities to experiment with the aperture settings and shutter speeds on the non-digital SLR I was carrying.

Back at camp, dinner of rice and mutton was ready to be served. Wolfed it down and with full bellies retired into my sleeping bag in anticipation for the next day.

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