Last leg, Tuvkhun monastery and Tsenkher hot springs

Back in the van and onto Tuvkhun monastery.  It was quite a walk in the gorgeous forest passing countless ovoos en route to this sacred pilgrimage site.  What a beautiful place of spiritual contemplation and solace.  The monastery is a hidden gem tucked away in the Khangai mountains.  Zanabazar,a direct descendant of Chinggis Khan and religious leader founded the site in 1653.   Monks still worship and study here, it was a treat to watch a young monk adorned in his yellow lama hat blow his horn.  The temple was lovely, the temple etiquette I learned in Korea helped me out and it was appreciated by the monks in mutual silence.

This was sacred earth.  We climbed to the top of the rocky outcrop, burying into caved carved out in the rock face and glancing at where Zanabazar’s boot footprint is said to have been imprinted.  Not being one for heights and steep sheer rock face climbing, I was dragged up top with the help of friends.  The view made it all worth it but I still shudder when I think about scrambling up and down.  Just endless forest of pine trees, and must resemble what I can only imagine Siberia must be like.  The temple was unfortunately destroyed in 1937 by the communists but it has since been restored and rebuilt during the 1990s.  The monks who seek solitude and grace live in a divine realm with nature.

In the forest stand age old pine trees.  There is a lovely story about two trees that have literally grown together.  There is a mutual branch that joins them, this is said to be a sacred on sacred ground.  They’re like married trees, I suppose their roots intertwine underneath.

A delightful string of blue wishing ribbons encloses this area.  I felt truly privileged to have seen this land.
The walk back to the jeep was lovely and muddy.  I met butterflies and saw some woodpeckers and interesting bird life   I’d love to have camped there, I suppose the cold and stars would be mind blowing.  The secret silence and serenity was about to be shattered by the most brutal drive to the long awaited hot springs we’d heard so much about.

Jeepers bloody creepers is all I can say when I recall the drive to the long awaited hot springs.   We slid our way out of the forests and onto the Tsenkher.  No roads just mud. Wet sticky mud and rain.  Our driver lost control of the van twice as we plummeted down slope.  We narrowly avoided smashing head on into a tree by the grace of God.  From this point on in the journey, I decided to close my eyes and rather let my imagination dictate what happened.  For the reality was far worse than what I could ever conjure up in thought!  Our van did two complete spin outs as our driver lost control and we shrieked in a combination of sheer horror and delight.  At one stage the old rattletrap burnt out and we got out and prepared to push.  I was prepared to die that day, how we escaped unscathed is a mystery to me.  With a feeling of acceptance and peace with the world, I imagined “died living the dream” on my tombstone, and played out my funeral in my head as we spun, slipped and slid.

Get your spring on. Hot spring time.  What a lovely sight, like a limping dog our van got us to our ger camp.  Bliss is all I can say, pure bliss.  This was the first time I’d had a shower in 12 days.  A warm amazing shower and wallow in the hot springs is all a girl wants in central Mongolia.  We only spent a night or two here, but by god did I make full use of the showers and baths.  It was also nice to see fresh faces from lands afar and chat about travels.

I walked for a bit, exploring the surrounding nature in awe.  Sun was setting, the clouds were falling and mingled with the steam from the hot springs.

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