AFC Flag Expedition, 2009

Back to Ulaanbaatar

In the evening after the mountain ceremony, we went for one last drive and ended up poking around the ruins of an old monastery that is tucked up into a narrow canyon. The entry point and the site itself has many aspen trees growing in and around it, some with blue scarves (khadak) tied around them. It was a very peaceful place. After all the normal, but sometimes noisy activity that had been going on around the ger camp, we chose to just sit up on some flat rocks in the quiet, watching the sun go down. It was a very nice way to end my stay at Baga Gazriin Chuluu, knowing that the next day was a long road trip ending up back in very noisy UB.

Left side of canyon entrance

Left side of canyon entrance

Right side of canyon entrance

Right side of canyon entrance

Interior of monastery building with aspen trees

Interior of monastery building with aspen trees

We left for UB around 9am the next morning. Back across the steppe.

Earth road on the steppe

Earth road on the steppe looking south towards Baga Gazriin Chuluu

Tahilgat Hairhan, the moutain we saw on the way south

Tahilgat Hairhan, the mountain we saw on the way south

Among the many things I learned from Hatnaa about Mongol culture is that, out of respect for the spirits who dwell there and the fact that the top of a mountain is the closest one can get to Tenger, the sky, you never say the name of a mountain while you are within sight of it. One refers to it as “Hairhan”, which is a term of formal respect. So I asked him what the guides say to the tourists who inevitably ask what the name of this or that is. They parse the issue by saying that the mountain’s name is Hairhan. Which is absolutely true, in a sense, but allows them to honor an important custom. Near the mountain there were a couple of people herding their animals.

Traditional herding of goats and sheep

Traditional herding of goats and sheep

A somewhat more contemporary method of herding camels

A somewhat more contemporary method of herding camels

Finally, we came in sight of Bogd Khan, the sacred mountain which lies to the north of Ulaanbaatar and is also the world’s first nature reserve, having been set aside in 1778. Still on my list of places to visit. On the other side was the end of this wonderful road trip and a long, hot shower.

Bogd Khan Uul in the distance

Bogd Khan Uul in the distance

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