Monday, 24 October 2016

Mongolia Trip: Karakorum & Ankle Bones

Day 10 - Wednesday 17th August 2016

The end of our tour was nearing and it was a little bittersweet. On one hand, I was excited at the prospects of not being with the same people 24/7 and heading back to civilisation. Hello Western style toilets, or any toilets. Heck, I would have been excited about proper squat toilets. I was getting sick of peeing anywhere / at squat toilets which were literally two planks of wood and usually a trillion flies. And the smell .. oh boy the smell. On the other hand, I was sad that I would be leaving the beauty of Mongolian countryside and I knew that I would not be returning any time soon.

But first - we got into a situation. Due to the rain, the ground was super super muddy and our van actually got stuck. We all climbed out and started to gather branches etc to help the wheels get traction. The van moved a little however we were still stuck. Eventually we had another tourist group in a 4WD pull us out of the mud. The funniest thing was that my tour group were all muddy and when the tourists in the other car got out, the contrast was hilarious. This Korean girl got out in her white jeans and her super white sneakers, saw the mud and then immediately got back into the car. Who wears white sneakers to visit countryside Mongolia?!?!

Mongolia 2016

Thankfully we were soon on our way to Karakorum! Karakorum was the capital of the Mongolian Empire between 1235 and 1260. As per normal Mongolian culture, it wasn't really a capital city as we would know it originally. Rather it consisted of the gers as Mongolian culture did not really believe in having fixed structures. However, Chinngis Khan's successor Ögedei eventually erected walls and buildings to bring some credibility and sense of authority to the Empire. I believe it was more to fit in with the norm of the Mongol conquered regions.

We first stopped at Kharkhorin, a town very close to Karakorum for lunch. This was the first establishment we had eaten at since Day 2. It was all very exciting!

Mongolia 2016
I ordered a goulash, it was ... something. Not a goulash but hey, it tasted different to what I had been eating for 9 days straight. 

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016

As it is a tourist attraction, naturally outside walls was an eagle that you could hold for 2000 tugrik. A bargain basically. It was pretty large and weighed around 5 kg.

Mongolia 2016

This was our last night at a nomadic family and it was a super cute family.

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016
Dumplings! Though I only ate 2 and gave the rest to a male tour member. I had actually started doing that since Day 4. It was partly because I couldn't finish what I was rationed but also because I was too worried about getting food poisoning.

The children also taught us the traditional game with ankle bones. I believe that there are a few games that can be played, but the one that was taught was almost like a game of marbles. Each side of the ankle bone represents one of the 4 animals in Mongolia, sheep, horse, goat, camel. The game was to gather all the bones in your hand and let them drop. Then you would have to flick a bone to the same animal as the original bone without hitting any other bones. If you succeeded, then you could collect that bone and your turn would continue. The aim of the game was to have as many bones as possible.

It was such a simple game but naturally got quite competitive.

Mongolia 2016

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

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