Friday, 28 October 2016

Mongolia Trip: Gorkhi-Terelj National Park

Day 11 & 12 - Thursday 18th & Friday 19th August 2016

The end was near!

Mongolia Trip 2016
This was going to be one of the last times I was going to repack my bag; I must admit, I was soon becoming quite proficient at it.

We headed back to Ulanbaataar to drop off one of the tour members before heading to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, which is located not too far from the city.

Mongolia 2016
Mongolia 2016
Yes we were finally on a road again. 

Mongolia 2016

We stopped quickly at this place on the side of the road and the meal consisted of the same handful of ingredients! It was at this point that we swapped vans yet again and got a new driver and tour guide.

Mongolia 2016

It was very strange to head back to the city; a little jarring and a complete contrast to the previous 10 days that I had experienced. In a sense, it was similar to a culture shock.

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park was rated quite positively on the internet and in guidebooks. However, it was very different to what I was expecting. I suppose it was because I had experienced 10 days of the traditional nomadic life and being in surroundings where there were minimal people around. Although the national park is quite large, there is only a certain area where you can stay. Due to this, it was very very commercialised (I even saw some teepees!) There are talks / fears that one day other areas in Mongolia will be transformed in a similar fashion. I guess that is the difficulty in striking the balance in promoting tourism and yet also preserving the untouched beauty of Mongolia.

At the tourist ger camp that I stayed at, there were a massive bunch of Chinese students who were being ... quite frankly obnoxiously loud. To avoid them, I decided to climb to the top of a super steep hill. It was so steep and as my shoes weren't the best, I effectively ended up using the trees to pull myself up the hill. I was really trying to avoid having to go on all four.

Mongolia 2016
Not sure if that shows how steep it was. 

Mongolia 2016
The view was disappointing. All I saw was more tourist ger camps.

Mongolia 2016
Although I did find this giant boulder.

Back at the sand dunes, the Swiss couple had mentioned that the quickest path is not always the easiest. They didn't mean it in a philosophical manner but quite literally as their strategy to climb the dune was unlike anyone else. That thought popped into my head when I discovered that there was a longer path to the top of the hill which would have meant that I didn't need to struggle / pull myself up the hill. Ha.

The obnoxious Chinese tour group continued and there ended up being some random dance party where some girl was trying to teach all her friends the dance steps to Gangnam Style. Seriously. They would play the music, teach a few steps, repeat the music, dance together. Play the next few bars of music, pause, wash rinse repeat. It was actually ridiculous.

Mongolia 2016

The next day we had a different sort of breakfast! For the past 10 days, we had been eating dry / stale bread + jam / nutella / fried egg if super lucky. I really am not selling the food in Mongolia, but I really don't think you should come to Mongolia for the food. Come for the untouched beauty!

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016
I am lucky that I love potatoes and carrots as it made the meals more palatable. I actually enjoyed the food that the tour guide made rather than the stuff from the commercialised tourist camp.


Mongolia 2016
Turtle Rock or Melkhii Khad - it is 24m high

On the way back to Ulanbaataar, we stopped at the enormous statute of Chinggis Khan. Ginormous! My photos don't capture the magnitude of the statue but it definitely was one of the highlights of the trip! I am a simple person, and unsurprisingly, a shiny stainless steel structure captured my fancy. It is 40m high and, according to legend, is where he found a golden whip. Although the statute is complete, the surrounding complex is still under construction. They are wanting to build 200 permanent gers arranged in the pattern as traditionally used in 13th century Mongol tribes. They are also wishing to install 10 000 horse man statutes to represent the number of soldiers in a tumen - army unit - used by the Mongols. Impressive!

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016
View from the viewing platform

Mongolia Trip 2016

This was my ninth trip as part of #take12trips. To see previous trips please click here.

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