Friday, July 13, 2012

A Summer Hike with Friends

Yesterday a bunch of us went for a hike up some beautiful mountains north of Ulaanbaatar. We also made some new friends. 

We took a bus from the center of the city and went up to a place called Chimeltei, and were dropped off at the final bus stop. The area is a mix of gers, small country homes and large, new summer homes. After a long walk up the dirt road, we passed the homes and entered into a beautiful area of natural countryside. After reaching the top of the ridge, we had a rest and a picnic. 

The whole day was wonderful for a hike. It is great to get out with friends, get away from the busy city life, have a simple common goal of reaching the top of the mountain :) Ah.... the only drawback was the flies who joined us!! Bring some insect repellant if you plan to hike in the mountains of Mongolia in the summer :)

In the photos you can see our group: Bombi, Joseph, Daniel, Namuunaa, Aagii, Abigail, Lisa, May, Noel, Kathy, me, Zolboo and Cici. What a group!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Our Gobi Trip

What a trip! Kathy and I went with our friends Seulgi and So Young to the Gobi Desert a week ago. Unforgettable, simply because of the strangeness of the landscape, the differences in the way people exist, the remarkable animals there, the people we met, and the whole experience of being there. Most Americans hear of the Gobi Desert from childhood. It seems a place of camels, of endless sand, of excruciating heat, of unhindered sun and of the Mongol people who live there. Our experience was much of that. 



Seulgi and So Young are Korean foreign exchange students at MIU for a semester, with adventurous souls and desire to see some places in Mongolia before returning home to Korea. It was so nice to be together. We traveled by train during the day to Sainshand, a small town that grew up around a Russian army base during the days of the occupation of Mongolia by the Soviets. For some Sainshand is an escape from the craziness of Ulaanbaatar. For others, it is a boring place only to be visited if necessity calls for it. We found it some of both. The town is clean, quiet, dry, but with a city center that feels rural but quaint and comfortable. We enjoyed it.

We had the privilege of being guided by Khalzan, who lives with his wife in Sainshand and does fine art painting for a living. He is the father of Chimgee, a teacher at LEI. 

We saw a bunch of places... 
  • the desert sand
  • the ger home of a nomad family who we visited with
  • a watering area where the nomads can get water for themselves and their animals
  • abandoned jet hangers used by the Soviets during their occupation of Mongolia
  • a ride on camels
  • table tennis and karaoke in the city


Our Gobi Trip - page 3

Here are photos of the nomad home we visited, some of the places in Sainshand, and a few last photos of our night trip back to Ulaanbaatar. 

Kathy and me in the ger of the nomad family

So Young :)

This is the roof of the ger ... a type of tent that can be taken down quickly and moved as needed ...

... the mother and father in their ger ...

visitors are offered tea, or milk tea, with something to eat

... some boys in the local swimming pool ...

... a Buddhist monk in the town ...

... a view of Sainshand from our hotel balcony ...

So Young, Seulgi, Kathy and I at karaoke club. First time for Kathy and I :)

We stopped at a city bridge overlooking the city.

All of us at the bridge :)

So Young and Seulgi found a friend :)

... the train station in Sainshand ...

... another of my favorite photos ...