Monday, October 15, 2007

Mongolia Day 3

Didn't sleep a WINK the night before!! Stomach started churning round about midnight and by the time dawn came around I was grouchy as hell and dying for some sleep. JJ raced off over the plains clicking away while I huffily tried to come to terms with the fact that there wasn't toilet within miles of where we were and that I would have to actually dig a hole in the ground and... you know. (horror of all horrors!) Well I had psychological issues with using the wide open plains as a toilet and so decided to soldier through the day and hope my tummy would sort itself out...

Drove up to the ruins if the 16th century Ovgon Khud monastery that was destroyed -
according to our guide, by the russians, and according to The Lonely Planet, Zanzabar's warriors - whatever.. it was destroyed. I personally didn't think it was anything to shout about but LP stated that a 45 min hike up into the surrounding mountains would bring us to a much prettier ruin. By this time my tummy was screaming for my attention and I had to finally relent - thank god for the hole in the ground with 3 wooden walls.

Background: My saviour!

Glad I was able to do the hike. It was an easy trek which allowed us the time to appreciate the stunning scenery and the fresh crisp air. The monastery was indeed much prettier and had alot more character and charm. The silence up there was mildly disarming and at the same time brought about a sense of peace and tranquility. I was content to just sit and listen to the sounds of flapping magpie wings as they call out to one another from their perches.

We arrive back to our driver and guide after 2 hours and it was off to the Mongol Els for camel rides! YAY!! We negotiate for an hour's worth but beg to be led back after only 20 mins - JJ coz his nether regions were giving him sharp reminders of yesterdays horse ride and me coz the up and down motion did NOTHING but aggravate my already grumpy tummy.

Once on
terra firma, we were invited into the camel herder's ger for a sampling of some airag - fermented mare's milk. It's got a pretty low alcoholic content - even 5 year-olds drink it - and involves a simple but labour intensive process of making. The milk is collected and poured into a large barrel where it is churned by hand, CONTINUOUSLY for 24 hrs. What you get is a thin, slightly sourish milk that if consumed enough, apparently keeps you from feeling hungry. Hmmmm... diet option? hehehe

Next stop, Karakorum, ancient Mongol capital ruled by Genghis Khan. Did a quick tour as it was already late and all the monks were pretty much done for the day. Decided to spend the night at a tourist ger camp where heating was in the form of a log fire YAY! not so great thing was that the fire tended to go out in the night and then I was reduced to a shivering bundle under the covers. Had a typical mongolian dinner of 'booz' - meat dumplings that were OH SO YUMMY but OH SO FILLING! JJ then had the bright idea of taking out his bottle of Chinggis Gold vodka and initiated drinking games. Silly boy! trying to win against mongolians!! At least I knew when to stop. Needless to say, he skipped breakfast the next morning and suffered a pounding head. Sigh....

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