Mongolia #22 Day 11 of the Trek (06/10/15 pm )

After lunch near the river in Tsengel, we headed up a valley, intending to cross a pass, but the snow was too thick. So we had to go back down and try a parallel valley.

DSC02262 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02262 © DY of jtdytravels

And in that valley, we stopped to ask advice from a local horseman who was looking after his flock. They all looked like silhouettes against the snow.

DSC02263 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02263 © DY of jtdytravels

The view back down the track that we’d just followed up the pass.

DSC02264 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02264 © DY of jtdytravels

Looking ahead, the track was getting icier and the prospects for getting over this pass were not looking good. Would we have to turn back yet again?

DSC02266 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02266 © DY of jtdytravels

Finally, we made it over the pass and came upon this delightful meadow and pond.

DSC02267 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02267 © DY of jtdytravels

Animals grazed peacefully in this beautiful valley.

DSC02268 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02268 © DY of jtdytravels

And the view just seemed to get better and better, the further we went.

DSC02269 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02269 © DY of jtdytravels

It was decided to camp for the night beside a quiet lake, surrounded by snow covered mountains. It was cold but it was stunningly beautiful.

DSC02271 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02271 © DY of jtdytravels

We marvelled at what we found down at the edge of the lake just a short distance from our campsite. This was a photographer’s dream find!

DSC02274 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02274 © DY of jtdytravels

Fantastic ice sculptures had formed as spray from the lake had frozen on plants.

DSC02277 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02277 © DY of jtdytravels

Crystal clear ice surrounded plant stalks.

DSC02288 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02288 © DY of jtdytravels

The ice crystals followed exactly the shape of the plants.

DSC02289 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02289 © DY of jtdytravels

In other places the ice hung like stalactites.

DSC02293_2 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02293_2 © DY of jtdytravels

Extra layers of ice were added each time the wind blew. The temperature didn’t rise above zero during the day and so they didn’t melt… and who cares about the cold with such delightful sights to enjoy.

DSC02291 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02291 © DY of jtdytravels

Layer upon layer of ice on one stalk. It was very difficult to stop taking photos… each piece was so unique, so beautifully sculptural.

DSC02297 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02297 © DY of jtdytravels

 The spring and summer grass had been harvested to be kept for winter feed.

DSC02298 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02298 © DY of jtdytravels

A local paid us a visit; just looking; checking us out.

DSC02304 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02304 © DY of jtdytravels

It was indeed a beautiful campsite.

DSC02305 © DY of jtdytravel

DSC02305 © DY of jtdytravel

Having stopped early, there was time to go for a walk before dinner.  Fences are very uncommon in Mongolia.  This stone fence guided stock to the water’s edge.

DSC02308 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02308 © DY of jtdytravels

And this timber fence may have been built to keep animals from the water.

DSC02311 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02311 © DY of jtdytravels

A yak herder came over to our camp to look us over.

DSC02314 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02314 © DY of jtdytravels

One of the yaks was also curious.

rock hopping

We’d set out to walk around the lake but our return to the camp was cut off by streams running into the lake. Some of us rock hopped across the stream, trusting that we’d get to the other side without wet  boots.

4 wheel driving!

Some of the vehicles came to the rescue, but first they had to rescue themselves!

4 wheel driving 2

One after another the cars crossed through the slippery mud.

4 wheel driving 3

Would he make it? Of course. It was a Land Cruiser. I have one at home!

After all of this drama, we had dinner; chunky vegetable soup.  It warmed us up as it was very cold and the cold was making my nose run. The next activity could have possibly made my eyes run with tears… if I was a vegetarian. But I’m not.

sheep

Tseren had bought a sheep for the crew to kill in the traditional Kazakh way. 

Tim

Tim explained the process as we watched on in fascination… even if some were a bit squeamish!  To begin the process, a small incision was made in the animal’s chest just below the sternum – an area known to be rather devoid of nerve endings.  A hand was inserted into the pleural cavity and the aorta snapped.  Death was instantaneous. This method of killing means that no blood is spilt as it all remains in the cavity to be scooped out later.  These people are Muslim Kazakhs and, for them, the spilling of blood onto the ground as sacrilegious.  The skinning, gutting etc. was then a little more familiar but I was surprised at just how easily the skin came off.

So this is how you get your meat for dinner out on the steppes. It doesn’t come from the supermarket already nicely packaged and ready to cook. It’s a hands on job.

DSC02332 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC02332 © DY of jtdytravels

Back out on the steppe near the camp, yaks grazed amidst stunning scenery. And that was just one of the wonderful scenes from this day to ponder upon when I turned in to sleep in my tent under the stars. Sleep came easily after a truly memorable day.

More anon

David

All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

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