Wednesday, January 15, 2014

From one lake to another

Our main destination was going to the great Khuvsgul lake, one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world...its situated in northern Mongolian near the Russian border.
Having done a small hike in the morning on nearby hills, we left before noon...clear sky and the young sun meant that weather was comfortably warm..we had to say goodbye to two German girls and the French girl and our group was once again down to four.
Mongolian Breakfast

Saying goodbye to our hosts
It was a long journey ahead of us, of at least 300 kms and considering the lack of any roads, we decided to split it in two days..we set off with our bellies empty hoping to find some lunch on the way..however for next four hours we did not come across any civilisation..natural beauty surrounding helped us to forget the constant hunger, but finally our driver decided to take the matters in his own hands..we stopped besides a fresh and clean stream of water...and our driver started cooking! We had the most amazing meal of Yak meat, stream water, salt and rice before setting off again...that was the first time we saw funny side of our driver and a few smiles on his face..

Our driver cooking Yak

The stream

With bellies full, our mood was relaxed and the Mongolian music was playing on the radio..the same song would repeat again and again for the rest of the journey we sang along with our driver breathing in the Mongolian around 7 PM, we came across the first ger camp and decided to rest there for the night instead of taking risk of spending the night out in the open.
The next morning was as any other mornings in the Mongolian country-side...sheep grazing away the abundant grass, a few birds chirping around and a distant sound of cutting wood..we set off for Lake Khuvsgul, but soon stopped at a small town for no apparent reason...our driver went to meet his police friend and we used this time to convert some currency and take a few snaps of locals...locals are always curious about outsiders since there are not many this country...they chatted with us and spoke a few words in Mongolians and we all shared some good laugh..
Just another morning in Mongolia

The Town

Locals chatting

A Lone horseman

Our driver was in special mood that day having consumed adequate amount of Vodka and the afternoon again went quick with Mongolian music...we reached a town called Murun, which turned out to be his hometown and stopped at his place for light snacks and some Mongolian goat tea.
Our driver and his son
Hatgal is a small village situated at the starting point of lake Khuvsgul  and the driver’s mother owns a ger camp there..we entered the ger camp to be welcomed by warm smile of an elderly woman, with wrinkled face and shining eyes..keeping the luggage in the ger allocated to us, we set off to explore the town and the lake...

Seemingly another ghost town
There was a profound sense of lack of activity to this town..especially due to the off-season..the town consist mainly of ger camps and hotels and very few locals stay after end of August..there were no tourists, not even many Mongolians and it looked like a ghost we reached the lake and checked our map, we realised that the great expanse of the water ahead was only one tip of the was hard to imagine the size of lake...we came across more horses and cattle than humans before reaching what looked like a ship dock...we were approached by a boatman who offered to take us on a ride on his speed-boat to an island in the lake..our company increased by two with a Chinese traveller and his guide joining us.
The boat sped on the water jumping every now and then in the air, leaving behind jets of water bubbles...the boatman, with his unchanging cold face stared ahead..only to move his lips to let out a puff of smoke from the cigarette..soon, there was only water on all the sides with no shore visible and that was when we realised the size of that was ocean-like...
The tip of the huge lake
We reached the island, jumped out the boats and were instructed by the boatman to climb a small rocky cliff..the view from the top of the cliff was exquisite and snowy mountains in the distant and the huge lake below...i was tempted to jump down just to feel the purity of the water, but decided against it.
I climbed down the cliff and went to the shore to sit...others were still on the top clicking photos and the time was right for meditation...odd wind carried small waves of water to the shore, kissing the pebbles..making a soothing sound...our boat swayed with the water, as if enjoying the movement...a seagull like bird decided it was time to take it to the air, flapping its wings...and my heart breathing lungful of purest air on this planet.
Lake Khuvsgul


At the lake


Our boat and the boatman

This was actually a bar...deserted bar

No beer flowing there...

The boat took us back to Hatgal and night fell before we set off to find our ger camp..we lost our way..found it..lost again and found it again...and finally were glad to see the familiar wrinkled face beaming from the door...we entered our ger and the wrinkled face appeared again, this time with our dinner...only means of communication then, were the eyes glittering with fire-light and the conveyed that the woman cared about four total strangers and had opened her heart to welcome them to her home..

1 comment:

  1. hi again .. we are visiting Hatgal.. can you please send me the driver's number , name and ger camp details at