Today we left the city and traveled out through the grass covered, rolling hills of the Mongolian countryside around UB. Because of the harsh winters, the roads have taken a beating and are less than smooth. After some time one would feel that they were suffering from ‘shaken tourist syndrome’.
We stopped at one of the largest roadside Shamanistic shrines – a huge pile of rocks strewn with animal skulls, various empty bottles, steering wheels, crutches and used casts and money. Rising out of the center was a huge tree branch almost covered with blue, yellow, red, green and white Buddhist prayer scarves, printed religious and racing number flags and a host of visiting birds.
hindsight, I think we should have made a prayer to our bus and it’s shocks to
hopefully make our journey a little smoother. See how happy we all were! Continuing through the barren countryside
we see the occasional yurt, possibly with one or more cars parked outside, herds
of sheep, horses and cattle with hawks and eagles soaring in the blue sky
We finally arrive at Manzushir National Park and Museum which contains the One-Hundred Tree Monastery. There were several monuments along the path up to the Museum tied with blue prayer scarves. The Museum was filled with stuffed animals representative of the local fauna. No cute little stuffed toys but the real, dead things. Honestly, I don’t like to make fun of local things as I have been the brunt myself many times – but the facial expressions on these animals were pricelessly odd. There were also artworks incorporating the local flora and fauna – leaves, seeds, feathers, fur, etc. While several stout souls trekked up to the Monastery the rest watched them from below. You can see the caves used for prayer up on the hill.
On our way to lunch we stopped and watched a couple milking their mares. Working their way through each colt, the mother is found, the colt starts to nurse, is then removed and the wife, in this case, takes over and milks the mare a little. They make a fermented drink from this that tastes somewhat like goat’s milk with vinegar. Yummy!
On to lunch. . . . . . . chicken schnitzel was served at the “Gobi Mon” tourist camp café.
As an added event to the day, we attended a performance of Chinggis Khaan’s Cavalry 2008.
This was a huge, dramatic production with a cast of hundreds of men and horses. The performance was a competition between each of the 4 ‘battalions’, each one dressed in a different color in traditional garb of the Ghinggis Khaan era.
There were also demonstrations of traditional
games in which the spectators could play – arm wrestling, archery and a game where the player tried to hit the knuckle bone of a sheep with a bone tile flicked with one finger from a wooden slide.
Returning to UB we had a dinner that was both fabulous and relaxing. The itinerary noted it was a Korean restaurant. Upon leaving we were accosted by a funny little man selling postcards. Meli remembered him as being either blind or mute at one time – but rest assured, he always had a scam running. Overnight at the hotel.