Mongolia

The WildArt Mongolia Expedition 2014, Part 4: Binder Soum to Toson Hulstay Nature Reserve

Binder Nuur

Binder Nuur

Our stay in Binder was at an end and I got one last shot of the lake as we drove away. We were now heading northeast towards Dadal and, after that, south to Toson Hulstay Nature Reserve. But since the journey always is the destination in Mongolia, there was plenty to see and experience in between…

My lead driver, Erdenebat, who seems to have been everywhere in Mongolia during his 14 years as a professional driver, brought us to this recently built memorial to the Queens of Mongolia. I gather that the local people are hoping it will draw visitors. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get the name of the Soum where it’s located, but will update this post when I do. It may have been Bayan-Adarga. As you’ll see, if you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a stop!

Memorial to the Queens of Mongolia

Memorial to the Queens of Mongolia

Entry gate

Entry gate with the hat-shaped memorial building within the enclosure.

Each queen is represented by a portrait

Each queen is represented by a portrait.

The extensions on their headgear was intended to bring them close to Tenger. The higher your rank, the higher the extension.

The extensions on their hats were intended to bring them close to Tenger, the Eternal Blue Sky. The higher your rank, the higher the extension you were allowed.

In the center were the traditional white horsetail standards. White ones for peace, black ones for war.

In the center were traditional white horsetail standards. White ones stand for peace, black ones for war.

Decoration on the back of a throne.

Decoration on the back of a throne.

The main altar.

The main altar.

Close-up of the offerings.

Close-up of the offerings.

En route through the Han Hentii Mountains

En route through the Han Hentii Mountains.

Wild lilies

Wild lilies

Scenery....

Scenery. The white-trunked trees are birches.

Golden eagle.

Golden eagle. The bird was right by the road and barely able to fly, with what looked like an injury to one wing.  Erdenebat got this great photo.

Our car had gotten out quite a bit ahead

Our car had gotten quite a bit ahead and Erdenebat realized that we couldn’t see the others, so we back-tracked and found that Puugii’s car had a problem with the brake on one side, which involved a fluid leak. We were a LONG way from any town and there is no “roadside assistance” service. But the drivers are also, by necessity, excellent mechanics and they know their cars inside and out. In less than an hour the problem was fixed and we were on our way.

We finally reached our goal for the day...the legendary Onon Gol, the center of the Mongol heartland

We finally reached our goal for the day…the legendary Onon Gol, the center of the Mongol heartland.

We camped on the river, using dung fires in the evening to hold the mosquitoes at bay

We camped on the river, using dung fires in the evening to hold the mosquitoes at bay. We stayed here for three nights, two full days. One morning a few horses came down to the river, adding a picturesque touch.

We took a day trip into Dadal, well-known for the nearby sites connected with Chinggis Khan. Perhaps less known is the local museum. Don't be fooled by the modest exterior. Wait till you see what's inside.

We took a day trip into Dadal, well-known for the nearby sites connected with Chinggis Khan. Perhaps less known is the local museum. Don’t be fooled by the modest exterior. Wait till you see what’s inside.

But first, one of the statues of animals nearby.

But first, one of the statues of animals nearby.

Before they had enclosed stoves, this is how a ger was heated and food prepared.

Before they had enclosed stoves, this is how a ger was heated and food prepared.

As a contrast....this old mechanical adding machine.

As a contrast….this old mechanical adding machine.

There was also a small natural history section with taxidermy-mounted animals.

There was also a small natural history section with taxidermy-mounted animals.

It was hard to get back far enough to get everything in, but here is one of the display cases with everyday utensils. There was art all around the room, too.

It was hard to get back far enough to get everything in, but here is one of the display cases with everyday utensils. There was art all around the room, too.

Traditional archery equipment mounted on a bearskin rug.

Traditional archery equipment mounted on a bearskin rug. The museum staff is trying to raise money to renovate the building and I was happy to contribute.

Our next two stops form part of the standard tour route in this area of the country. I generally avoid these places, but wasn’t going to miss anything connected with Chinggis Khan.

Posing in front of the Chinggis Khan monument.

Posing in front of the Chinggis Khan monument.

Inscription on the monument in Mongol vertical script, the alphabet that Chinggis Khan chose when the Mongols had acquired an empire that  now had to be administered.

Inscription on the monument in Mongol vertical script, the UIgher alphabet that Chinggis Khan chose when the Mongols had acquired an empire that now had to be administered. It is taught in the schools today and has also become an important calligraphic art form. (I don’t know what it says, so would welcome a translation)

The Expedition drivers: Erdenebat, Ogii and Puugii. And our guide, Tseegii. A great crew!

The Expedition drivers: Erdenebat, Ogii and Puugii. And our guide, Tseegii. A great crew! They are standing in front of the ovoo that marks the area where Chinggis Khan was born.

Chinggis Khan's nutag (the place where he was born).

Chinggis Khan’s nutag (the place where he was born).

We returned to camp and found that a violent storm had come through while we were gone.

We returned to camp and found that a violent storm had come through while we were gone.

Including hail.

Including hail.

After breaking camp we went into the soum center to go to the store. I stayed in the car and got some great photos of this local horseman.

After breaking camp the  next morning we went into the soum center to go to the store. I stayed in the car and got some great photos of this local horseman.

We stopped to visit this family. It started to seriously rain and they were kind enough to invite us into their summer cabin to have our lunch.

We stopped to visit this family on our way south. It started to seriously rain and they were kind enough to invite us into their summer cabin to have our lunch. The woman on the left is Khalkh Mongol. The woman on the right is Buryat Mongol. The man is the son of one of them.

Gratuitous photo of Mongol horses.

Gratuitous photo of Mongol horses. At this point we were coming down out of the mountains onto the steppe.

We stopped at this ovoo and I learned

We stopped at this ovoo and I learned that we had arrived in Toson Hulstay Nature Reserve, the largest steppe grassland reserve in the country.

The steppe and Mongolian gazelles next week!

 

 

 

 

 

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