Monday, 2 August 2010

real life dinosaurs and big open spaces near Ulaanbaatar

This weekend we ventured forth out of Ulaanbaatar into the Terelj National Park. It is an enormous space some 50km northeast of the capital and a popular destination for the city's residents. As we drove north we passed groups of locals lining the bedraggled road selling freshly picked wild strawberres, delicious; one jar for 50 pence. The valley gets wider the further from town you get. Massive boulders line its edge. It is as if you are in the set of a western starring John Wayne. Yaks, goats and horses mingle along the valley floor. Lush forests disappear up the hillsides. The space feels as wide as it seems long. High on the hill tops, tied to large branches, blue ribbons stream in the air. They are blessings for spiritual grounds and await the visit of passing Shamen. I spent an hour with one Shaman. He was very serious and mumbled a lot. I wish I could have understood what he was saying. There was much incense and giving of offerings. He kept banging a drum though and what Mongolian I know evaded me. I kept thinking about Ebenezer Goode. Next time.

Rounding one particularly enormous rock, fondly known as Turtle Rock, we came across a herd we hadn't expected. Some twenty life-sized dinosaurs stood idling away the hours in glorious concrete. Quite a shock. Thirty kilometres further north, as the road gave way to mud we found our haven for the weekend, the Terelj Hotel. The only hotel in Mongolia to feature in the Small Luxury Hotels guide. The clientele reminded us of Mumbai. Very fashionable and conversing freely in English smattered with the odd word in Mongolian. A super lush haunt if you find yourself in these parts.

Mongolian of the day:- thank you :: bayarlalaa