We woke to a still and clear, cloudless sky. I was up and outside by 07.00 to find our hosts already milking their yaks.
Our host with his wonderful fox fur hat.
A nearby house was similar to the one owned by our hosts.
The smoke of the morning fire wafts across the fields, bringing the house to life.
Barren hills, yaks and rider on a modern ‘horse’!
A more settled form of Mongolian farming with mud brick houses.
There aren’t many trees for building but there is a lot of dirt for making mud bricks!
Mud brick wall construction.
A little face in a doorway.
The little one’s father.
By now the animals had been milked and our morning tea was ready for us – three milky bowls of it. All very well except we had to follow the local custom and add some curdled cream to it. It wasn’t too bad…. I managed three bowls of the stuff.
Tseren had left earlier to drive the 28km (17.4 mi.) back to Olgii to get our passports and permits which would allow us to proceed into the National Park.
So after a breakfast of watery porridge (muesli wasn’t on offer) the usual scrambled egg with ‘bacon’, dry bread and cheese and a cup of tea), we started walking.
We managed to walk about 3km before being picked up by our vehicles.
In this barren landscape, I was surprised to see a small group of larch trees in their golden autumn colours. They are definitely survivors in this harsh climate.
Nearby, on a broad stony plain, stood this large traditional Turkic stone. In a project that lasted from 1007 to 2012, a group of archeologists and scientists studied these stones across many of the countries where they occur. Their conclusions can be read in their project notes;
‘The Stone Guards of the Great Steppe’. http://balbal.kz/en
They found that many of these stone sculptures face East. The reason for this is that “the ancient Turkic tribes and nations adhered to the Tengrian faith – veneration of the Immortal Blue Sky – in their belief and traditions. The setting up of the stone sculptures … often signified that a well-known person of ancient Turkic society is buried there.”
The indigenous Old Turkic name for these stones is “badiz”; a figure, carved in stone. As seen here, Turkic stones usually have a bowl or a bottle of vodka carved into the base, possibly to provide the liquid needed in the after life. This stone would appear to have been placed on a mound, very likely a burial mound.
The stones inevitably stand in the middle of BIG landscapes. The authors of the project make the comment that; “centuries later, it seems as if these monuments hand us a message from our ancestors: ‘We preserved these lands for you, and your mission is to pass them on to the next generation, so that they stand the test of time.” A sage message for all of us no matter where we live, especially today as we witness the effects of climate change on our world.
Oh oh! Another flat tyre slows our progress.
We were now getting closer to snow again and feeling colder!
We drove into the small town of Tsengel. It was really good to get out of the cars, go for a walk and try to capture some of the essence of this place with my camera.
Most of the houses were simple design, functional, made of timber and mud bricks.
Three little girls, all rugged up against the cold wind, smiled a warm welcome.
Cuties, aren’t they!
The hinges on this metal door are made from a discarded rubber tyre.
The washing out to dry… innovative clothes line!
A timber bridge crosses the river that runs through the town. Low in water during the autumn period, the river obviously carries a lot of water in the time of the spring thaw.
What water there was in the river was frozen over.
Large ice crystals formed near the river’s edge.
The bridge across the river also marked the boundary of the National Park, the destination we had been seeking for a couple of days now! As we crossed the bridge, our papers were checked at a rope barrier strung across the bridge. Before entering the park proper, we stopped in a grove of larch trees for lunch… well, what purported to be lunch! We were offered three small apples, one of them tart enough to suck the inside of your cheeks together for a week, a small mandarin and a chunky shortbread-like biscuit.
Lunch over, we said farewell to this neat timber and mud brick town with its colourful corrugated iron roofing… it could be used as part of a Colourbond roofing advertisement! Our next activity was a walk in the National Park… more of that anon.
All photographs copyright © DY of jtdytravels
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