August 02 - August 18, 2011
M  O  N  G  O  L  I  A
Gobi , Altay Mountains & Hovds Gull Tour
Group Journal Day 09
Submitted by
Carolyn Caldwell
HOVD CITY , Monastary, Black market
Aug. 10, 2011 Wednesday

Itinerary: Leisurely day at the cit of Hovd. visit the local Monastery. Have lunch in the town. visit the black Market, A recital of Horse Headed fiddle player. Overnight at our ger camp.

We awoke to another beautiful morning. The strong winds from the previous day have subsided and clouds receded to reveal snow on the distant mountains. We are completely surrounded by the Khukh mountain range.

In the distance is the town of Khovd which has a population of 31,000 people, 2 universities which specialize in degrees in teaching and agriculture. The airport airstrip was recently resurfaced to prepare it for large international jets. A hydroelectric plant is planned to be built in the near future.

On one of the boulevards in the town, are some of the only trees in the area which may be up to 200 years old.


Not far from our ger camp and just outside of town is a local monastery, Gandanpuntsag Choimpol, which is surrounded by 108 stupas which were donated by local families to commemorate the deaths of men in this area lost in the skirmishes in the 1930s. The monastery currently has 10 students aged from 6 to 13. These students are picked based upon their desire to become a monk, their goals in life, a family background check, their parents permission, and a letter from their local school. They pass through a 3 month trial period and then choose to continue or to drop out. The monk that met us has been a monk for 20 years and was raised in Khovd and studied in India from the age of 13 until 20. He was very proud of the accomplishments of the local monastery.

Inside the main temple of the monastery are small statues made from goat fat and flour. Each year these offerings are replaced as a reminder of the temporary nature of all things. The number of faithful and followers of the faith are increasing. The local monks major in philosophy, medicine, sculpture and agriculture. Male and female monks wear veils while chanting and reading certain books. They cover their eyes and windows and read at night to protect themselves from bad spirits.


We also visited the local museum which was quite interesting. We learned that Ayush was one of the local heros and led the local battle against the Manchurians. We also learned that 80% of the population is Khalkh and other ethnic groups include Zakhchim, Uuld and a few others.


After the museum we went to the black market which contained rows and rows of box car stalls filled with all kinds of inventory. This was an interesting location to take photos of the local people.

We also stopped at a neighborhood market which was owned by Waitrose, a Canadian chain.





Before the evening meal, we sampled some 80 proof liquor and a nice wine courtesy of Yvonne and watched the beautiful sun set on another beautiful day.

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