Camp 10 – Gobi Desert Tsagaan Suvarga (White Stupa) Again

This morning we left our luxury ger with the sunken bathroom and toilet and headed once more into the great desert wilderness.

We are heading back north east today and then east then north to our previous camp White Stupa to the lovely family who showed us so back a week ago.

We travelled through some incredible desert today. Places as wild and remote as I have seen yet in the Gobi desert. The temperature was back into the high 40s and at one place where we stopped to look at some stone edged sand dunes 52c! We Wondered if the temperature gauge in the car was broken and if it wasn’t for the cloud cover and wind to help it may have been even hotter.

We have had strong winds most of the day, white sky, dust? Cloud?

The roads were the usual corrugated ruts with forks heading into every direction and it was necessary to keep an eye on my compass app on my iPhone. The car reading was often erratic but it seems the $2.99 app I downloaded back home before the journey has been worth the exercise.

Through the deep sand and rugged rocky roads we travelled. Stopped for tea but it was too hot… Kept driving always uncertain if we were on the correct road. It is worth it just to see the breadth and wild country. As the land became dryer the herd animals became less. We saw a few herds of camel with not much to eat. Twice we came by a well with animals standing around a dry well. The first well had about a dozen beautiful small horses. We stopped and Unench and Mervyn drew water up from the well to fill the trough. The horses drank so much, they were so thirsty. The lifted nearly twenty buckets. Distant camels also saw what was happening and two of them came sauntering across the stony ground and waited behind the horses. The horses were not going to let the camels in and rushed at them until they had had their fill. The camels are such gentle creatures, so tall and polite looking. These must be females. When the horses had had their fill and we had taken many photographs they moved off and andered away up the hill. They seemed very grateful to have a drink. This is the first of the hot days and the animals must climatise too.

Half an hour further on we came across another dry well. This time a herd of camels looking thirsty. We could not drive past. Stopped again and to our disappointment there was no sign of a bucket or any way to reach the water. The well was about two meters or more down. We had a bucket and some rope in the car and thought we could use that. Unench investigated a hit nearby another well and eventually found a bucket at the end of a long pole. All the while the camels were watching in anticipation and following our every move and clearly wanted to drink. I wanted to give them our drinking water but Tugsoo stopped me saying it would not be enough for them and the camels would get angry if not satisfied.

So once more Unench and Mervyn took relays in being the heavy buckets of water from the well and we watched on the these giant creatures drank and drank and raised their head and sucked their lips and made satisfied noises. They looked at us and said thank you with their souls. We left them with water in the trough as we left.

A little further on we passed yet another well, this time a beautiful white camel was sitting down and patiently waiting and I wanted to stop for her too but the others would not. Camels, I was told clearly can survive without water for fourteen days at a time, and white ones fifteen.

I felt as if while we were getting lost we were traveling across this dry desolate place feeding animals. Well, feeding we were not as there was very little feed in any of this part of the country. It surprising how close to the surface and how sweet the water is we have found. It is as if when it does rain the water is captured underground and the surface dries out to its extreme.

We drove another hundred kilometers planned today as we continued to take the wrong track. We have enough petrol we hope for the next sum.

Eventually we arrived back at this ger camp. We had another interesting diversion when we took yet another wrong track nearby when we came upon a valley with illegal gold diggers. Unench was a little nervous when he said not to take photographs as these ger camps are mining illegally. The miners they call ningers because they are always carrying sacks of rock on their back to sift for gold. They carry guns and people disappear down the deep holes. The police do nothing to stop the activity. He went on to tell us a lot more and wanted to quickly get away from this valley.

It was interesting because just before we tuned down the wrong valley we had been wondering about the bones and clothes we found on the roadside, half buried. Nobody wanted to go digging and all presumed the bones were of the many animal bones strewn across the Gobi. Hmm. There were trousers, a pair of shoes, a hairbrush and other unrecognized pieces of cloth well weather beaten.

We were pleased to finally sight the white gers of our camp. The family were just as pleased and smiled widely when we pulled up. The family had heard us speak on the radio when we were being interviewed at our exhibition at the history museum. That was lovely.

A heavy grey sky with what appeared as a thick dust storm was heading our way. Once more in this camp we managed to get our stuff into the gers before the wind struck. We had to change gers as when we cover the top with felt there were great holes. These came from the storm a few nights ago. We buckled down, closed up everything and had a quick shower before the winds arrived. They were strong. The worst of it past quickly enough I think. I am laying on my bed now, the air has cooled considerably and the wind now milder. The generator has just been turned in and I am hoping for an early peaceful night.

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