Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Mongolia Trip: Lost at Tövkhön Monastery

Day 8 - Monday 15th August 2016

The first half of the tour was quite hectic and it involved many hours in the van. The second half of the tour was considerably slower. Although I had googled the tour back in April, I hadn't looked at the exact details since and wasn't sure what was on the agenda. Therefore each day was a surprise!

Mongolia 2016

We were allowed a sleep in as we were only heading back out at lunch time. First we walked over to the Ulaan Tsutgalan waterfall. Two of my tour members actually jumped into the water which was crazy as it was pretty chilly!

Mongolia 2016
Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016
Skinning a goat

Mongolia 2016
Guessed it! Carb + potato + tomato + meat! 

I forgot to mention this in the my previous post, but we were allocated to another driver! The night before, our driver [who spoke 0 English] was completely drunk as a result from hearing about a family emergency back at Ulanbaataar. He actually drank someone else's entire bottle of beer [I believe it was probably 3L] along with a bottle of vodka and probably his own stash of vodka. I think the store owner had cut his supply and therefore he got us to get vodka. At the time, we thought he was helping us to get it because he was guilty he drank ours. But eventually we realised that wasn't the case. It was such an awkward experience to have to deny the grown man alcohol. A very bizarre and sad experience. But nonetheless, we were allocated to a new driver and a new van. This van was infinitely better! The suspension was amazing and it was considerably less bumpy and could actually go at a fast speed. I also picked a seat first and was no longer wedged between two people!

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016

Our next stop for the day was Tövkhön Monastery. Tövkhön Monastery is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia and was established by 14 year old Zanabazr in 1648. Now this was another interesting experience. The tour guide told us that it was a 2km walk to the monastery. In actual fact it was 5km each way ... The four of us in the tour started walking towards to general direction of the monastery however everyone started walking at different speeds and before we knew it, we were all separated. At the time I didn't think it was a big deal since 2km is not a great distance. But as mentioned, it wasn't 2km and I eventually got a quite worried that I was lost. Although I could see a general path, there weren't any signs at all. After a while, I followed a few Mongolians, did my usual gesturing and gathered that I was vaguely walking in the right direction. It had rained quite a lot previously so the ground was incredibly muddy.

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016
View from the monastery. Yes - I was walking through that forest. You can now understand why I panicked a little. 

Eventually I reached the monastery however could not see any of my tour members. I must admit, I panicked a little but I knew that if I walked back where I came from, I would find the van and just stay there. Thankfully on my way back, I saw the tour guide and one tour member and we went to the monastery together. If there was one thing that experience taught me, it was to stay together especially in a forest!

There was a path to climb to the top of the monastery however there was a section that was forbidden for women. The tour guide didn't explain why and Google has not provided me with any details either.

Mongolia 2016
Effectively rock climbing to get there

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016
The male only section

Mongolia 2016

On the way back to the van via the super muddy path, another group of Mongolians were very keen to find some pinecones to eat. I later discovered that pine nuts are quite a popular snack in Mongolia and you can purchase them as street food in Ulanbaataar. If you are interested, you should read this article. 

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016
Trying to hit the pinecones down with a ridiculously and hilariously long stick!

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

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