This was an amazing tip to Outer Mongolia. I had to break the pictures up into two pages so see both of them. I tried to arrange them in order of the route we took but some of them may be out of order. A few if the things we did that were noteworthy. The temperature on the trip ranged from -10 C(14 F) to 7 C(45 F) during the trip. It only snowed one or two days. Altogether we traveled from about 1000 meters up to almost 3500 meters and somewhere close to 600 miles or 900 km. The roads were sometimes nonexistent and we were traveling across open pasture like fields similar to west Texas with tumbleweeds blowing along. At times we were in sand storms and almost desert like terrain, and at other times were were in the mountains in beautiful Colorado like valleys.
Pressure cooked lamb - The Mongolians heat rocks from the river, fill a old style metal milk container full of lamb, then they put the rocks into the container and seal the lid (the top has a very tight seal but not 100%,) then they sit on the lid, hoping it doesn't blow up or burn them from the escaping steam. After a while the food is cooked and tasty. You did have to be careful of the bits of rocks that might be in the meat.
Kumis - This is fermented yaks mil. It's about the same alcohol content as beer. It is a white milky substance that is soured so it taste like soured fizzy milk. Nathan and I drank a lot of this one night!
I ate the food meant for Buddha. Apparently at each meal some food is to be placed on the alter for Buddha. Well, me not knowing this at the time decided that since it was placed right next to me I'd have a snack. This happened in a valley in Zart where there had only ever been one other white person before. It was a very funny laugh. My nick name was Buddha John ever since that!
Taimen - Not sure of the name of this fish in English. It is a massive, fresh water fish that lives in deep pools of rivers and streams in the mountains in Mongolia. It was about five feet long and about 50-60 lbs. It was caught on a hook with a one foot long trout as bait. Our Russian guide, Misha was the angler that pulled him and carried him along a canyon back to camp. We had Tiamen head stew one day. The cheeks of the head were probably the best part of the fish. We also made steaks, similar to tuna steaks several times. Due to the temperature we just put it on the floor of the van mostly. After a few days we did salt it and put it in jugs.
Lenok - a form of trout we caught plenty of (10-20 total) using spinners as bait. Also good to eat. These at times froze solid within 5 minutes of pulling them out of the lake. We caught these in all the rivers and lakes we fished.
Zart - A valley where Ulambayar's family has lived for a few hundred years. They are officially nomads but have settled somewhat in this valley. They move into a more sheltered part of the valley for winter where temperatures have at times gotten down to -58 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 C).
Yerts (Russian) or Ghers (Mongolian.) They are round tent like structures, very portable, with a wood burning stove for heat and cooking in the center. You can see pictures of our experiences in Zart in this photo gallery. This is the preferred housing in most of Mongolia.
Mongolian saddles - OUCH! They were small, and made of wood. No wonder Genghis Kahn was able to conquer so much land. After riding on those for so long I'm sure they were plenty mad.
Hot Springs - There was a hot springs near Zart where we rode horses to and had our first bath in almost a week. It wasn't natural as the Soviets had tried to make it into a tourist spot. It might have worked except for the fact that it was so remote that it would be almost impossible to get a steady flow of tourists there.
Kabobs - We at so many lamb, goat, and beef kabobs I don't ever really care to eat one again.
Marmot - A large rat like animal about the size of a large beaver that lives in the rocks on the tundra. We ate one at some point. It was very grisly as was most of the food we ate except the fish.
Tea - not your average tea, this was hot milk with tea grounds and salt. We had this at almost every meal for 10 days.
Vodka - We drank a lot of Russian and Mongolian vodka. I know know why Russians are known for drinking vodka. It was 38%, not 40 as is the vodka in the states. It was easy to drink and it helped the 12-14 hour rides in The Loaf (see the pictures of our Russian Jeep. It looked like a giant loaf of Wonder Bread!) It also helped keep us warm.
Ulaanbaatar - The city we flew into and out of to start our journey. There are pictures from UB on the first and second page of pictures as it was at the beginning and end of our trip.
Chulot river - The first place we camped. Down a 300meter almost vertical cliff. We climbed down and up carrying our 50-80 pound packs. See the pictures from this experience on the first page of the pictures.
Tsetserleg - The first town where se stopped prior to going to the Chulot Canyon and our first campsite. Also, the location of the Taimen catch.
Tosontsengel - The home town of Combo. The town was about 50,000 people and Combo was one of the fist fisherman in the village. He is the one who served us the Marmot and took us fishing along the Ider River
Ider river - The river where we fished and where some of the pictures of the sunsets, the Mongolian Motorcycle rider, and of the group with Combo are. We were sad but at this point John Robinson and UB2 had left the group.
Hatgal - A city at the northern central part of Mongolia. It was very evident here of the inefficient use building materials the Soviets tried to use. There were ruins of old Soviet buildings everywhere. This is the town where we stayed at Nature's Door , A hostel of sorts but it had closed down for the winter. We were almost the only ones there and were able to use the facilities. It was a really nice place and the owner, Bo, who is from England and lives in Ulaanbaatar was a great guy to talk to and very helpful. I highly recommend this place. There are plenty of pictures of our times here on page two of the photo's. This is where we were when it snowed.
Hovsgol Lake - This lake starts at Hatgal and goes north to the Russian border. It is almost 200 meters deep and contains about 1% of the worlds fresh water. We swam in this lake. It had to be done. Those pictures are a but R rated and I didn't have any of them taken with my camera so I haven't posted them here....yet....JD and I were the only two brave (stupid) enough to take the polar bear plunge. You can see the pictures of the location at the lake, and of the fire we warmed ourselves by once we got out. Three are also some other amazing photo's from this part of the trip on the second page. One night we hiked back through the mountains near the lake by the moonlight to our hostel in Hatgal. It was a long but beautiful hike.
Moron - Pronounced Moroune. A more populous place than most we visited. It's a fairly modernized former Soviet town. There was an airport here, internet access, restaurants, and bars. All of which we partook. This is also the city where you see the pictures of the dust storm on Page number two.
Nature's Door - the hostel where we stayed in Hatgal
Below is a map of the route we took.
This site was last updated 11/10/03