Mongolia Monday: 5 Photos Of Favorite Places- Hangai Mountains

I visited two very different parts of Mongolia in 2010 on my two week camping trip: the Gobi and, directly to the north, the Hangai Mountains. Today I’d like to share five of my favorite photos from the mountains, which I hope very much to explore more in the future. I think you’ll see why…

Gachen Lama Khiid, Erdensogt Soum- this has to be one of the great undiscovered places in Mongolia, an old monastery located north of Bayanhongor in Bayanhongor Aimag. I could spend days sketching and painting this beautiful temple and the stupas overlooking the river valley. There are more photos and the story of our visit here.
We had spent the night camped out on a hillside with a lovely view. The next morning I crawled out of my tent to the sight of local herders moving their yaks out to graze. Being in plain view, we soon had visitors, including this older gentleman. He perfectly sums up the dignity and presence of the Mongol country people. He also knew I was taking pictures of him...
We had to come down out of the mountains proper to circle around to get back in to our next destination. There was a small temple just outside a small soum center. I peeked inside and was treated to this riot of color, all kinds of candy and other food left as offerings. I don't know the story of the statue, but wish I did. More on the day I took this photo and the one above here.
Our destination that day was Khuisiin Naiman Nuur National Park, a series of nine ("naim" in Mongolian) mountain lakes, only accessible by car by driving up the length of this incredibly beautiful valley, which is where we camped for one night. I could have stayed there two weeks. More photos here.
We wended our way higher into the mountains reaching a pass where we found this fantastic ovoo made of wood and festooned with dozens of blue khadag (offering scarves). The tradition is to walk three times around it clockwise and leave some kind of offering or token, even if it's only a stone that one has picked up from the ground. Ovoos are always on high places and passes. The creation of them dates back far beyond the arrival of Buddhism to the ancient beliefs of Tengerism (or what westerners call "Shamanism"). More photos of the beautiful, wildflower-filled mountains here.

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