Camp 11 – The Gobi to Baga gazriin chuluu

Storms seem to be following us around but never quite connect. We had good weather this morning for our trip further northward towards Ulaanbaatar. As we retraced our first miles back towards Mandalgovi for fuel the weather heated up again once more towards 55 degrees celsius.
The wind was strong and the dust blew off the roads and many willy willys raced across the plains. Sometimes the wind and dust was so strong we could not see the road.

Eventually we arrived back in Mandalgovi and refueled and decided this town was not good to us and we should leave immediately. The last time was the drama with the drunk who ran into us and we had the police involved. We bought water and explored a soviet style shopping centre and for s second time a car almost backed into Unench. He had to shout st the driver to stop.

Finding our way out of time towards the mountains was also eventful. We took what we thought would be the correct direction and Unench decided to stop and ask a man walking along with large bag which way we should go. My intuition heckles were immediately raised as I remembered the other directions strangers had given us… To my dismay the man hopped into the car and said he would take us to s man who knew the way. We drove up the hill to a man in a shed and some conversations were clearly animated. I wanted Tugsoo and Unench to drive on. It they waited for the man to come back. He hopped back in the car again and said he would take us to the right road. I sensed trouble and more so as we headed into the ger district and drove through with locals looking us as if we didn’t belong. The man gave directions to the top of another hill with an ovoo and directed Unench to stop the car. He then pointed at the road ahead and proceeded to ask Tugsoo for money; because he had been taxi and gave directions. She gave him a hand foul of money. He was not happy and demanded more. He stood with the door open and we did not understand the language between Tugsoo and the man but it didn’t feel good and I asked Unench to drive off in English. We seemed to stay there for quite some time with the argument passing back and forth between Tugsoo and the man until she eventually said good buy to him and told Unench to drive on. It certainly was not a good town for us.

We continued on towards our destination using compass and map and intuition to find the roads. Passed a coal mine and noted that the map had the mine on the other side of the road, so once more we were off the track. Up and down and round about and hills and cranes and small animals and we arrived at a camp set amongst another rock location. When Mongolia tuns on wild landscape she does it really well. Once again these hills of rocks were sculptures of all shapes standing up on each other and leaning in precarious positions.

In amongst these hills was an old ruin of a monastery that had been destroyed about 100 years ago. The walls were thick and blue silk was tied amongst the hidden garden. The monastery was hard to find and we searched several Gorges before we discovered it. It was like a secret garden with many flowers growing through the rocks, and while the skies were black and thunderous with the approaching storm it was warm and quiet in this valley. There were many small makes and birds also living here. The monks may have gone but life was thriving here. We found a birds nest nesting tucked in between some rocks at a level surely predictors would find. The nest had three beautiful eggs. Many ground herbs including tyme grew here, smelt more pungent than the type in my garden, but the same herb.

This was indeed a special valley. The ger camp is set amongst the rocks and looks out over s plain where a gers camp with a herd of goats and horses is happily grazing. A small family of tailless mammals is visiting our ger, probably used to visitors.

The wind has dropped and the generator is roaring. Some German tourists have arrived in a bus, it was the one we commented on earlier today as driving very slowly. It had apparently broken down somewhere. Tomorrow we drive back to the belter smelter of UB.