August 02 - August 18, 2011
M  O  N  G  O  L  I  A
Gobi , Altay Mountains & Hovds Gull Tour
Group Journal Day 02
Submitted by Beverly
Aug.03, 2011 Wednesday

Itinerary: Visit the Karakourum Valley where the monument of three eras of Mongolia  are dominating the sky line over the river. Visit the Erdenezuu Buddhist Monastery which is the oldest active monetary in Mongolia. Visit the Karakourum Museum. Make a short stop at the "penis rock" which was carved by the monks in the 18th Century. After visiting the sand dunes of Bayangobi continue to the Hustain Nuruu natural reserve for overnight

Our breakfast hall and our ger room

I wake up early and already thinking about getting to the Temple, the first one built in Mongolia. I get down to breakfast early and sit with Yvonne. I have so enjoyed meeting the people on this trip, as we begin this journey. I prefer to think of trips such as this as journeys, not just a “trip” someplace. Yvonne does such interesting work and she opens my mind with her thoughts. And, the special pancakes and eggs are a real treat! The departure ceremony was just as colorful as the welcoming ceremony. This time we were blessed with the milk thrown in to heaven with a special spoon. Each time the milk was spread in to heaven, it ensured a safe journey. We could not stop taking photos. by time we drived away from the camp we were sure that the journey for the day was going to go with absolutely no problems. Jim was the last to hop in the van. We left wonderful smiling faces and MUNKH TENGER camp behind for a new adventure.


The Orhon River was meandering in the  planes of Karakourum

This hundreds of years old city was nothing but ger neighborhoods connected to each other with wooden fences

The hill top monument was keeping
a grand ovoo in its boosom


The semi - circular monument had three different maps of Mongolia
The Hunni ,  the Turkish and the Chingizz Empires

We head to the “Top of the Hill” Mongolian monument. We have a 360 degree view of Karakorum and it is amazingly beautiful. I try to picture it as Chinngis Khan might have seen it and lived there. It still seems possible that it would have looked similar, except more gers. The architecture of this monument is beautiful and I think fits the area and the culture.  Of course, there are souvenir sellers here! I buy a lovely small incense pot for Ric.

Our next stop was to visit a  very unique monument -  a Penis made by the monks!!
Yvonne demonstrated how the locals used this piece of stone in hope of having a baby.
Onward to the , OK, let’s just call it the Giant Penis stone statue! It has, of course, ancient symbolism,
but we enjoy the humor in it and take our pictures sitting on it.

Onward to the Errdenne Monastery! This is very large, surrounded by 108 stupas, all in white. It had been destroyed during Communist times but is once again a working monastery and gradually being restored. Only 20 monks are here now. There are numerous temples to see and Boloro patiently describes each one. The temples here are not quite Tibetan looking but have a Chinese influence in the colors and architecture. At its height, this monastery had 1500 monks. I still sense their devotion and ancient wisdom. Tibetan Buddhism has so much symbolism and I try to remember all my studies of it: some I recognize and others I just absorb. I want to stay and stare at each one, thinking on what it symbolizes. It is not the worship of various deities but the recognition of all the aspects of every living thing, positive and negative. Being here again, in an old temple, again makes me feel at home and brings a depth of calmness that I seem to find nowhere else.

We move on to the main active temple where the monks are chanting. I sit and just listen, feeling the sounds through my brain. The carefully designed museums were full of different images of Buddha. The musical instruments which were made of human skull and virgin girl's femur bone. Families were piously going in and out the museums and little shrines and turning the prayer wheels.

Buddha with a mustache

Young Buddha

Old Buddha

Angry Buddha                                                                                  Protecting Buddha riding on a donkey

People were lined up in front of the monks hoping to get the right chant or right advise cure their problems

Incredible faces!!









As we leave the area to view the ancient turtle, I turn around, viewing the temple and not wanting to leave. I travel so far to again find this sense of calmness and being home. The ancient wisdoms speak to me. The museum is new here in Kararkorim, and very, very interesting. We watch the video on the history and view the exhibits.

Onward in the van for a LOOONG drive back to the ger where we had lunch yesterday. I so love watching the vast landscape go by, the herds of animals, the culture of a world so different from my own. Can I just live here for a while and absorb it into my brain for keeps??? After lunch we head to the sandunes for some FUN! Climbing up in the sand, so soft, again makes me feel like I’m in a very ancient land. I love feeling the soil and the connection to it. Now, the LOOONG drive to our ger at Hustai National Park. On the way, we have a lovely potty stop. Well, no it isn’t, but it works and as my friend Sheri says, “It’s just the way I like it!” I think of her on this trip because she is the nicest person I know and we have done some hard service trips together. At last, we reach the park to be treated to a large, lovely stay. Dinner is late but fits the bill. And thanks to our driver we at last taste the fermented mare’s milk which I really like. Lights Out!

It was cold. As the rain storm clouds wrapped our camp,
we had out little stoves roar with the sound of burning wood.

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