Steppe-ing out onto the Mongolian steppes

Now this is delicious.. This is what I thought Mongolia might be like – miles around miles and miles of open grassland and rolling hills disturbed by absolutely nothing. Not a tree in sight, not a fence, not a wall, not a building nor a barn. Only the shadows of passing clouds corrupts the greenness but only by placing irregular patterns of darker shades on the troughs and folds and dips and rises of this expanding landscape.

Largish, grazing herds of sheep or goats or cattle wander contentedly yet arbitrarily,  mostly unaccompanied, although occasionally pushed along by a single herdsman on horseback or even a motorbike. I saw a pair with the woman on the back shaking a rattle made out of a large beer bottle with some stones inside. These herds criss-cross the steppes like moves on a chess board, the purpose of their journey only clear in their own minds.

Rogue groups of more lively horses and ponies canter about showing off to anyone watching until the midday sun quietens them down and they settle into groups, nestling close together to provide shade for each other. The odd collection of yaks or camels look imperious on the side of the road, waiting to be loaded up with goods or tourists to earn their men a keep. They frown or groan or chomp or even spit if their slumber is disturbed in any way.

Karokorum was the 13th century capital of the Mongol Empire. Built up with palaces and temples by Ogedei, the third son of Genghis Khan, it remained the centre until Khublai Khan established Bejing as a new centre of the Yung dynasty. Erdene Zuu (Hundred Treasures) Monastery was the largest in Mongolia and built in 1586 on the ruins of the ancient capital.

And the usual tat alley outside.




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