So that’s the map of the journey we took. Poor Japur had to go over it thrice with me. He obviously had some mean topographical maps for his navigation purposes so my little Lonely Planet one is a gross simplification of the area. I had no idea I’d be in this area in the first place! If I did, I’d have taken the time and trouble to get a decent map. Day 1 was wonderfully random. The main leg of day 1 was to Tsagaannuur (only attempt saying that when drunk) or somewhere near there. We stopped at the most interesting collection of rocks and stones. There were turkic stones with some bizarre carvings on them. They resembled the twirly Kazakh designs which are said to be inspired by the curled horns of the mountain sheep. There were also sharp black shards of rock all lined up for meters at a stretch. It wouldn’t be the last time I’d come across such organised chaos in the middle of nowhere.
That afternoon we met surprise surprise another relative of Japur. He told me the of history of how the Kazakhs of the area stem from 3 major clans. The name of a person will always indicate from which clan the person’s family belongs. A person is given a few names, and these names act as an individual family tree. So when a person rambles off their name, one can identify his own family history and mother clan. Pretty cool. This little bloke we came across was riding his horse and pulling along his camel. I couldn’t believe the strength of him as hell tucked at his stubborn camel whilst trotting oh his horse. Bless him, such coordination can only be admired.
We drove on, but as darkness fell we had to find a family to stay with. We did, and they were wonderful. The father was a park guide employed to keep the peace in his given territory. His lovely wife fussed about and ensured us we’d be most welcome to the table and dorm. I finally got a chance to stretch my
legs and aimed for a small hill behind the gers. Across the lovely river resided our neighboring nomads. I came across a sweet couple on their motorbike, we smiled a lot and I tried to tell them where I was going and vice versa. I got the usual bewildered shocked look when I told them I was from Africaaa. haha. On the way I came across some yak grazing peacefully by the river and a pregnant mare who seemed rather skittish. The colours in the afternoon sunlight were a painters dream.
It was a great little hike up the hill. The red rugged rock felt like a landscape one could only dream up on Mars. I got to the top and was greeted by the winds, so free. I started whistling to the wind, and quite suddenly a falcon replied whilst circling me for ages from above. I just stared in amazement, the language of the world we all speak it.
It was getting dark and noticeably more cold, I decided to head back home. The others were concerned that I’d headed off for so long alone. They seemed intrigued that I’d climbed the hill and laughed when I showed them the photos of the cute couple. Of course they knew who they were and where they were
going. Dinner was a presented as huge carcass of a sheep they’d recently killed and hacked up into pieces on the table. We hacked at it as well, no manners here no utensils either. Father cut off slithers with his sharp knife which were quickly devoured. That was slugged down with ample chai on tap. I love my tea, I’m amazed at how much I consumed on the trip. I thought I’d run Olgii dry with the amount I’d drunk, but there was always a cup more. Japur cleverly told me to buy chai before we set off. Often we left boxes with families as a thank you. It was tasty meal and I appreciated their food. Naturally the sheep was had for breakfast as well! I had a feeling it’d lay on that table until the last scrap was finished. I suppose cold meat is served in most hotel buffets.
Also there was no toilet, just find a spot outside and out of view was the way we went about it. I have no idea how I manged to never be seen whilst going to the loo. I always announced it, as to make sure the other’s didn’t decide to go outside and run into me going about my bizniz. They seem to have an intuition when it comes to never crossing paths when to the bathroom. I had a frightful time when I awoke in the middle of the night needing the loo and I walked into a camel/yak thing. Bloody frighting. I also managed to step onto this a few times. Yes that being the sheep we were devouring’s little head. An awful awful feeling gurgled in my stomach as I reflected on the meal we had eaten. Shame he had no eyes left either…
I slept on the floor of the main bedroom which was given up for me. I had it all to myself, and slept like a snug bug in my sleeping back and blankets. We had some visitors who trundled in at midnight, I barely remember them as I slept through most of the racket. They all passed out (after bottled of vodka) in the lounge, quite silly them all in the small lounge area and me all alone in the huge bedroom. Not complaining though 🙂