cat_mogolistan


Yin and Yang, Ulaan Baatar
Friday, 24 September 2010 15:39
DSC_0066It has been two months since we left İstanbul and being on the roads is already the life itself. Happiness, sadness, longing, excitement and break ups are parts of the road... It would be convenient to define UlaanBaatar like a bad rainy day that you don't want to get out of the bed, with your house clothes and depressive cardigan on. After spending 10 days in this city, I left some of my parts and my feelings in the dusty streets. Psychologically, this must be the most bottom point of the trip... 

A famous travel guide defines Ulaan Baatar as following, if Mongolia's yin is its pristine countryside, then UB conforms nicely to its yang. UlaanBaatar justifies this definition With its annoying traffic jam and nervous atmosphere. Even the Turkish people living here questions why we came to this weird city. How would chingis Khaan, the unstoppable emperor of the past, would feel if he saw his grandkids living here ? The city summarizes the inconveniency of nomadic Mongolians living as settled. Only attractions are Sukhbaatar square with a gorgeous monument of Chingis Khaan and Gandantegchinlen monastery which is known as the biggest center of Mongolian Budism.

We will be on the way to Chinese capital Beijing in a few hours after these lines have been posted. China is another essential point of our trip. Its time for a new country, a new culture and a brand new start...
PS : You can reach Ulaan Baatar photographs through Photos menu. 
Özcan
 
In the Middle of Desolation, Mongolia
Friday, 17 September 2010 12:30
DSC_0962It has been almost two days we left UlanBaatar. We are going ahead on the land full of set and holes without stopping. Once our old, grey, Russian minibus stopped. We got off, I looked around. There was even not single a mountain in the horizon. I could neither hear the humming wind nor a bird singing. My forward steps were the only thing that spoilt this quietness. I already started feeling the burning sun on my nape. We looked at each other with Ozcan, in the end we got there, we were just standing in the middle of Gobi Desert...


It was such a difficult journey while getting to UlanBaatar. We settled into the same hostel with the Chilean couple that we met in Lake Baikal and the couple we met in TransSiberian. The next day we walked around the streets of the city together. Apperantly it was different than the cities we have been before. However the children of the Chingiss Khan looked they are following up the fashion as in other countries. There are not much attractions to do in this capital of Mongolia  where the population of horses is much more than population of human. Sukhbaatar square with statue of Chingiss Khan and a Buddhist monastery is on of those. The main stuff we are interested in Mongolia is the steppe and desert life. And the Orhon monuments no doubt. Most of the country consists of steppe and there is not a certain road network here. Thus we hired an old Russian minibus with a Mongolian driver who is familiar to the desert roads.

6 Nights at the Desert

After spending two days in UlanBaatar we left the city early in the morning to go to Gobi Desert. The car will go towards south and reach desert, later it will go to west and then north to get back to UlanBaatar. There are only some towns on the way. So we supplied our food for several days before leaving the city and started the trip which will last for seven days.

DSC_0765As soon as we moved we came to the earth roads which is full of holes and steps. It can be considered as wheel tracks not roads though. There are several of these similar tracks and all go to different directions. Same as a Mongolian proverb tells; "Every Mongolian has a way". It seems like the life hasn't changed on this land where the Turks used to live. Endless space and the tents called as yurt on it, free horse herds walking around and Mongolians galloping their horses. We travel around six hours per day and mostly give a lunch break. We also stop at the piles of stones where a blue fabric is tied mostly at the top of it. We learnt that these piles are sacred places and it is the part of the Mongolia culture. Our driver either stopped near them and turned around three times or he just horned three times while passing by them. We spent the night in the steppe inside a yurt tent and sleeping bags. The following day we kept on moving. As we moved the land became more desert and camels took the place of the horses. Because we were entering the Gobi Desert area soon. In the afternoon we came to a place called as White Cliffs. We looked at the desert from the top of the cliffs for a long time. Apperantly how lonely, how empty the world was! After watching this landscape we have been guest to a family tent to spent the first night in Gobi. The family, living in a tent in the middle of the Gobi among camels served us tea with camel milk inside and goat curds. The sun set on Gobi slowly. The desert is not only impressive in the day. I hadn't seen stars so clearly for a long time.

DSC_1259Our third day plan is getting to the Dalanzadgad city in the desert. We started a long journey in the morning again and we came to this live area in the middle of the desert soon. This town consists of mostly tents, convinced me that desert is live. The children were running around and playing ball on the dusty streets and through the tents. The people watching us, looked like they were questionizing themselves about our existence in the town. The children tried to communicate us in a shy manner with their poor English as we passed by their streets. We couldn't notice how the time passed that quickly, it was difficult to find our yurt as the weather got dark.


Sand dunes are considered when a desert is mentioned. We had a long travel to get to the sand dunes in the Gobi. As soon as we reached there we jumped on the sand and ran down and up on the dunes and enjoy it. As the sun set over the dunes we moved towards our tents to celebrate our Chilean travel mates' first marriage anniversary.

DSC_1549Our next destination is going to KharKhorin city. Since this journey will take more than a day first we got to the town called Arvaikheer. We spent our time with shopping and resting. We were being watched again by local people around. Even some of the drivers stopped on the road and looked at us and later they kept on moving. I had never felt that foreigner before. In the morning we continued going to KharKhorin and reached there in the end. This point is very important particularly for me and Özcan. Because probably the most ancient monastery of Mongolia which is called as Erdene Zuu stands here. Besides the Turkish Orkhun Monuments are just 46 km distance from here.

DSC_1624In the past, Mongolians used to be Shamans. In the 16th century Buddhism started spreading in the country and today most of the population is Buddhist in Mongolia. We visited the monastery which was an unusual experience for us. There are monks who wear orange clothes, Buddha statues, many paintings and explanations belong to Buddhism. From now we will meet these kind of monasteries more in the rest of our trip. Now it is time for visiting the first Turkish documents on the planet which we used to read about them in the history books. The road heading to monuments was re-constructed and named as Bilge Khan Road by Turkish Republic in the year of 2008. After a half an hour we got to the area where the monuments stand. There is a two monument outside which is sorrounded by walls. There is nobody around and the door is tied with a piece of blue fabric. As we untied the fabric Bilge Khan monument welcomed us which had been standing in this lonely steppe for 1300 years. It is one of the two monuments and the other is called as Kutligin monument. They are written both in Gokturk and Chinese alphabet. We learnt that these monuments which are outside were the imitations and the real ones are kept in the museum next to here. The museum was also constructed by Turkish Republic in the same year with the road. Although the museum was closed we asked for a favour. We were able to visit the museum and see the original monuments inside. There are also more monuments belong to Gokturks and Uighurs. We got back to Kharkhorin to spend our last night on this trip. It was a exhausting day, we fell in a deep sleep with the sound of our heating stove soon in our tent.

Mongolia was one of our exciting destinations in this world trip. This barren land satisfied us a lot more than we expected. During this trip we were tired, dirty and away from society and technolgy. But I felt the freedom in my bones...

ismail
It has been almost two days we left UlanBaatar. We are going ahead on the land full of set and holes without stopping. Once our old, grey, Russian minibus stopped. We got off, I looked around. There was even not single a mountain in the horizon. I could neither hear the humming wind nor a bird singing. My forward steps were the only thing that spoilt this quietness. I already started feeling the burning sun on my nape. We looked at each other with Ozcan, in the end we got there, we were just standing in the middle of Gobi Desert...