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Gobi Nitty-Gritty

The touring parties are mainly transported by cute Russian off-road vehicles that have the stamina to deal with the roadless reality of the Mongolian countryside. The main road from Ulan Bator starts to deteriorate dramatically around the 200th kilometer and the drivers veer off the pot-holed asphalt into the rutted shoulder and beyond turning into a Mad Max movie actors. Meanwhile a heap of gravel across the road, or whatever is left from it, announces the official departure from one state of mind into another.
The “attractions” along this non-road include a sandy outcrop with colourful rolling hills in front, called the “White Stupa”. This particular product of Nature acting as a master painter is certainly impressive when locals or foreigners have not seen the “Painted Desert” of Arizona.
In turn follows the gorge of Yolyn Am which used to contain a glacier despite its location and altitude. But this is no more the case - the global warming has dealt a terminal blow to this peculiar phenomenon.
The crowning achievement – Khongoryn Els or the Gobi desert sand dunes come next, accompanied by rocky hills and pastel-green valley. This is the place of camel rides and dune climbing at sunset. There are two locations on this very long stretch of sand where parking is constructed. As a result, all the adrenaline and testosterone Korean Male Youth has is concentrated in a very small area where by squealing, shouting and talking as loudly as possible it tries to impress the gentler side of the party. Not to mention the beer and the drones. Visiting at sunset did not materialize as a great idea but this is what the guide suggests and the rookies are to follow.
After this unequivocal culmination of fame and infamy comes the rocky outcrop of dinosaur bones turn. This spot was mined so thoroughly by American specialists that all the animal matter of interest has been removed. These calcified echoes of pre-history have traveled the world over and ended up into important First World collections. If everything goes well (staying on course and not foundering into the hidden sand pits of the Gobi) this day offers also a visit to a rather miserable Buddhist monastery ruins that have undergone some limited revival.
Last in the repertoire appears the so-called Mini Gobi, another marvel of green pastures, dramatic hills and sizable sand dunes. Here, the initiated folks mount the famous Mongolian horses that conquered Europe under the expert guidance of Genghis Khan’s relatives. Moreover, the inquisitive traveler might witness mare milking and figure how many persons are needed to achieve this feat. Also, the fruit of this labor, the kumis or fermented mare’s milk, is offered for consumption from the only bowl available, giving a particularly brotherly effect to the whole experience. Later, solid social ties and hierarchy are cemented with vodka and Mongolian singing – activities that deserve only superlatives.

Posted by assenczo 15:17

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