travel diary: ovorkhangai

My second trip to the countryside followed on the heels of the first (back to back, actually).  This time, we headed southwest to the edge of the Gobi, to Ovorkhangai aimag. Ovorkhangai is known for being the home of Kharhorin, the old capital of Ghengis Khan.  We didn’t make it that far, staying instead in the aimag center, Arvaikheer.  The purpose of this visit was just to get out of town and relax a bit, and I traveled with an AYA volunteer.

We stayed with PCVs (the best network in Mongolia) who showed us how to make khushuur (we used tofu and cheese with the potatoes and veggies) and toured us around.  There isn’t much to see and do in Arvaikheer, so of course, we went shopping.  I managed to restrain myself and only picked up a single pair of cute shiny red wedges (velcro with bling. whoot).  Shopping in an aimag center is interesting – some of it is thrift shopping, and I could have sworn one of my old jean jackets donated to charity was on sale.  And some of it is imports from China, with prices that seem unreasonable for the countryside.

And of course, I ate about 500 piroshki, fried bread stuffed with meat and rice.

We tried to go to karaoke, but ended up sitting at the bar for hours just chatting (the karaoke room was also occupied for most of the night).  It was fascinating to listen to the PCVs talk about their experiences in Mongolia, ranging from some amazing times to some ridiculously crazy times.

And in the midst of it all, we managed to not get killed by the crazy drunk guy in the market who went out of his way to pick a fight, and didn’t let the stares from the folks from the hudoo bother us too much.

Arvaikheer sits on the edge of the Gobi, so it was really dusty.  Our second day was also incredibly windy, which made our hike up the nearby hilltop a little uncomfortable.   But even in the midst of the dry and dust, there are pockets of green, a sign that spring is definitely on its way.

Our return to UB was uncertain, as there was a travel advisory for dust storms.  When they blow in with other storms (ice, rain, etc), the busses tend not to run.  Ours did, however, and at a good pace, getting us back to the city in slightly less time than our trip out.

Now I’m back in UB and a little more thankful for the modern conveniences I have here. Like a shower.  Nothing like not bathing for a few days to lower some standards….

Pictures can be found here!

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