Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gotta Love the Work Trips

by Mark

Last Tuesday I was informed that we'd be traveling to Tariat soum on a work-related trip to visit with 4 "herder groups" that have been working in the tourism industry here in Arkhangai, Mongolia. I soon realized this trip was supposed to last four days. Tariat is only a 5-6 hour drive west (about 180 kilometers), so why so many days? Well after a 24 hour period in Tariat soum, we were going to drive all the way back, past Tsetserleg, into Tsenher soum. But we'll get to that part later...

On the way to Tariat, we came across this little guy selling "airag" on the roadside.

The scenery along the way was beautiful, the people we met were hospitable, and the lessons on "what to see in western Arkhangai" were plentiful. Did you know there are 33 extinct volcanoes out there? Well we climbed to the crater rim of one found on the south end of White Lake (Tsagaan Nuur). The surrounding area is just covered in basalt rock, black ground nearly as far you can see. But the trees are turning yellow at this time of year, so they made the view quite attractive.

There's so many pictures of places we stopped to take a look at (unfortunately I can't load them all here), so most will find their way on to Facebook (link will be at the end of this post). But here's some links to a couple: we saw a couple volcano crater lakes, the Yellow Dog Hell Cave, the Ice Cave, White Lake, the Chuluut River, and the Tree of 100 branches. All were incredible sites, but I was there to work wasn't I? So here's the obligatory pic of me listening to the women who run these herder groups discussing their 12 point plan to increase tourism in Tariat (really quite extensive):

The work was done, the meeting was over, so it was time to make our way back. We stopped for the second night back in Tsetserleg to sleep, then got up early and continued to Tsenher soum. This soum is known for its hot springs, boiling right up out of the ground, heating at this particular location no less than 4 ger camps and at least 2 large greenhouses. The area was gorgeous. The people were great. And when it was all said and done, we stayed an additional night to eat, drink, relax and dance with people from Mongolia, Germany, Switzerland, and myself as the lone American.

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