Saturday, June 13: Lake Khovsgol, Mongolia
8:00 It’s our final breakfast at Khovsgol Lake. The staff seems to understand that some people aren’t happy with the meals so big bowls of Oreos are set out on the breakfast table.
12:10 Lunch has been cancelled. It was my cook group’s turn to make lunch (breakfast and dinner were provided but the lodge) but we feel that some people just finished breakfast and soup would go to waste. This is met with majority but not unanimous approval. There could be issues.
13:01 After a 50 minute drive over dirt roads we arrive at a town whose name escapes me. Most people agree there’s little to see so we buy diesel and snacks and keep driving. It’s exactly the kind of town that I could spend an entire day in. (I now keep a few NBA and Marvel videos on my iPhone.)
13:08. We’re back on a paved road for a 140km run to Murun. From here on we should be able to avoid dirt roads (or no roads) for all but a 50 km stretch that we’ll take tomorrow when we visit another monastery.
14:35 We’re in Murun for the third time. My cook group is instructed to pick up smoked fish for tonight’s dinner. The supermarket didn’t have fish when we were here last week so we’ll have to go to the much more authentic local’s market. We only have 40 minutes here but I could easily spend a day in town.
15:30 Someone passes around a bag of snacks purchased from the market. I hear one girl ask if anyone cares for hazelnuts. Mitch misunderstands and is under the impression that she picked up some weasel nuts. That market may well have had weasel nuts although I didn’t see them.
19:00 We decide to set up at camp at another abandoned log building about 350 km southeast of Murun and about 70 km northwest of Bulgan. A man soon rides up on horseback and introduces himself as Erdenebayar. He tells Bayaraa that this is his house and he will be back to sleep here tonight. First he must round up 60 horses that could be anywhere in a 10 km radius, He gets out a small telescope (monocle?) and searches the horizon for horses. We made a plate for him. Being a shepherd, he doesn’t eat much smoked fish but he seemed to enjoy it. After dinner he showed us how to properly pour a beer from the plastic bottles they use in Mongolia, There’s a secret to this process. When you break the seal on the cap there’s a plastic ring left on the neck of the bottle. He showed us how to remove this, pinch it, and insert it into the mouth of the bottle when pouring. Out flowed beer with almost no head. Amazing!
21:40 After dinner we sit around the campfire and I share a bottle of Australian merlot with Stephanie. She’s a retired nurse who worked in a youth prison in Perth, Australia. Since retiring she has spent more than 650 nights on Dragoman trips. She has done the Silk Road trip that I’m about to start on June 22 and fills me in on what I can expect.