Sand dunes, camels, and monasteries
After the mini-Nadaam, Peter and Eve and I went on a short walk through
the sand dunes. The ones to the north of the camp were stabilised by
vegetation, but those to the east were largely bare. This was exciting
to me because, though Australia has plenty of them, I'd never seen real
desert sand dunes before.
Peter banged his head on the ger door yet again, leaving another nasty
cut and bruising — low ger doors turned out to be the biggest threat
to life and limb we faced on the trip!
The restaurant ger where we had dinner had images of Buddhist protector
deities on the walls — and a swallows nest, complete with two swallows
flying in and out, feeding their young.
After dinner there was a musical performance outside, with a horse-hair
violin and a singer. Unfortunately the sound system was set with way
too much reverb and distortion. And after a while it started getting
very windy and looked like rain, so they finished up and we scuttled
into our gers before the storm came over.
Sunday 3rd July
It was foggy when I got up at 7.20am.
The camel riding was in two shifts and I was in the second. So, while
the first group headed off, I wandered into the dunes, looking at plants,
insects, birds (hoopoe, whitear, and Eurasian magpie) and the landscape.
The camel riding was fun, but my legs got a bit sore — the stirrups may
not have been at the right height — so I got off half way and walked
beside the camels. There were nasty bleeding bites on the right side
of my camel's neck, where the flies settled and the guide, who stayed
on the left of the camel, couldn't shoe them off.
There was a guide for each camel, but it was still difficult getting
them to go where we wanted — they'd stop to munch on grass or thorn
bushes as they went, and a couple of people in the group got dragged
through thorn bushes. As well as the six camels being ridden, there
was a juvenile along for training.
After lunch we drove south to the Khogno Khan mountains. Here the tiny
Erdene Khombo monastery is nestled in picturesque rock-strewn hillsides.
We walked a few kilometres into the mountains to the ruins of Uvgun
Khiid, which was sacked in 1660. It must have been vastly bigger than
the current monastery. The creek we walked up had clearly had a small
flash flood the night before.
On the way back to our ger camp we came across a bus with a wheel stuck
in the sand. It was carting a Korean model and film crew around, and
they'd gone out on the dunes to take advantage of the evening light
while the bus driver worked at digging the bus out. The whole kit and
kaboodle were staying in the same ger camp as us that night.
I got up at 2am to pee and ran into some others going out to look at
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