Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Traveling for Tourism

by Mark

For the last two weeks of July I was a trainer for the soon to be M21 class of volunteers.  I was away from my work in Arkhangai, and thus my return in early August prompted a rather quick, albeit necessary trip to the neighboring soums in our aimag.  My job was to gather information/documentation, as well as take photos of all of the businesses that will be taking part in the Travel Arkhangai website project we will be launching in January of 2011.  We have roughly 30 businesses interested in the project, and so I spent about 6 days gathering photos and business biographies from nearly all of these businesses.

While some of these photos may end up on the site, there are many here that were just "extras" and simply show some of the fun we were having on our trip.  Along with all of the traveling, we took the time to stop and see historical sites in our aimag, as well as simply stopped to pick berries along our route.  I managed to get most of the photos I needed...and returned with a fever that I most definitely needed less so.  It was a great trip with my translator and Mercy Corps driver, and I learned a lot about our already wonderful aimag on this adventure.

Now that I've returned, I'm actually writing this from UB, as we are back in the capital to see the new volunteers swear-in, and to attend our Mid-Service Training.  It's hard to believe we've been "at work" for over a year now.  Anyway, enjoy the following pics.

Ger Camp in Tsenker soum - you too could enjoy staying in this beautiful camp for only 25000₮.  That's about $19.00/night.

Or right next door you could stay at this resort (yes, that's a rather large log cabin!).  However, rooms range from $35 to $95 each night!

You would however get to eat in a nice restaurant that looks like this and you could find yourself conversing with the Prime Minister of Mongolia - yes, he has been here.

You could also swim in this wonderful pool heated by the local hot spring.  It's something like 120 degrees when the water is put have to wait about 2-3 hours before you can swim...when it's much cooler, more like 106-110 degrees.

On this trip I learned that the Turks were previously living in Mongolia (circa 500-700 AD) and left these two large stone pillars in our aimag.  Supposedly the translations of the text on the stones is the first known instance of the Turks using their own name ("Turks") in reference to themselves.  Interesting...

Up in these rocks is a famous monastery.  This is the only existing photo of this portion of the trip as our camera died immediately following this snapshot.   But you'll have to believe me that there was in fact a large monastery in those hills - if you study the pic you can see man made additions.
This pic was just amazing.  It was the first time in Mongolia I can remember being in a location in nature where I felt more enclosed by the trees than the sky.  In many ways it reminded me of paths through trees in Washington.  It was beautiful.

These are my co-workers laying in the brush/grass picking wild strawberries.  You better believe I joined them.  

Check out how small these things were.  We picked for over an hour and I probably ate like 25 of those.

This is a ger camp called Ogii Tour at Ogii Lake.  It's right on the water.  Great location, great staff, great bathrooms.  All things you should consider when planning your future trip to Arkhangai.