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A bumpy ride – Lake Ugli

 Wed 19 Jun ’13 – day 39   The ride to Lake Ugli

I woke just once during the night, but just rolled over and went to sleep.

Was awoken again by the sound of the cattle moving by and brushing against the ger; there was quite a vibration as the herd went passed.

Back to sleep and when I awoke I looked at my watch and it was time to get up.  Ankhaa had told us that the nomads tell the time and arrange meetings by the position of the sun shining through the roof of the ger – simple really.

Cold shower again – invigorating and cleaned teeth.  Back at the ger I realised that I had read my watch upside down, so it was much earlier than I had expected.  Never mind, the family and Munkheresez are up and about and the sun is already high in the sky, but there were a few more clouds than yesterday.

People rose when they woke and then it was time for breakfast – Al Fresco again – rise pudding, bread, jam, the cheese that was made yesterday, coffee or tea.  I only had some of the rice pudding, delicious but not my thing at this time of the day.  Bread (no butter) and cheese – fabulous; Ankhaa said spread sugar on top of the cheese just like the Mongolians do – it was even better.

It was then time to leave what I consider to be one of the most amazing, peaceful and beautiful places that I have been too.  Except for Nonuunaa who was too busy playing cards with one of her cousins, the family and camp staff gathered to say goodbye; Ariunaa was dressed in traditional costume and as we drove away she gave blessing for our safe journey by dipping a mare’s hair brush into a wooden cup and then flicking milk towards the sky.

We now had a sixty kilometre drive to Lake Ugli ahead on us, but stopped in the village to buy provisions; the shop we went to when we arrived was closed, so across the road – this was just a clothes shop, try another one, but this just had bulk goods – no we don’t want (or need) a fifty kilo sack of sugar!!  Then a lad who had been at the camp yesterday rode up and told Ankhaa that there was another shop open further up the village, right by the communal water pump.

Outside the shop was a 4 x 4 with the flag of the Democratic Party on it and the occupants were out canversing as the Presidential elections were due to be held next week.

I bought a bottle of coke and a bar of Lovely Day, a local chocolate.

Then off again along a track and huge vistas opened up; to the north of the village was a massive area of marsh land that becomes a lake if and when the rains come.

We turned west and the landscape just seemed to go on forever; looking north we could see a range of mountains in the very far distance that ran from east to west and once we had consulted the map realised that they were twenty miles away!!

There is a little more cloud (very high stratocumulus) than the last two days and a cool and welcome breeze.

Along one stretch of track, probably no more than two miles, there was a ridge of low rocks to the left (south) and we saw five steppe eagles and a large buzzard all hunting mice – what a sight.

We stopped whenever anyone saw a photo opportunity and then once when Wednesday had to get under the vehicle to check a rattle.  A weld on the exhaust pipe had failed, so we used a jubilee clip as a temporary fix.

Then all of a sudden we rounded a corner and there was the lake – pristine blue.

This camp was a commercial enterprise and had a number of gers of differing sizes (mainly four person), but one with disabled access and tepees (like the North American Indians) but these were similar to those used by the reindeer herders in the north of the country.

We had lunch in the dining ger and then a siesta for an hour or so.

This was followed by a walk to the Bird Recording Centre which had been set up by a NGO to record the number and type of migratory birds passing north in May and south in late September or early October.  This is done by students from the university and bird watchers who come from all over the world to help with the recording and tagging.

Ogli Nuur has shrunk by 25% since 1948 and this has both helped and hindered the local area.  What was once part of the lake is now a marshy delta, so good for certain bird species, but the lower level of the lake means that water in other areas has disappeared and so more animals have to come here.

There were also some interesting displays about the local flora and fauna.

Swallows were nesting under the eaves.

On the way back we passed a group who we have photographed earlier while they were riding horses thinking that they were nomads – they were in fact a group of Germans who had been riding various animals on their expedition.

Back at the camp I had a hot shower – low water pressure and there was a naked bulb hanging in the shower.

Had a snooze and was out for 1½ hours, then clean clothes on and time for dinner – fish (pike) was the main course followed by baked apple; I brought the beers.  Yet another simple but very good meal – fresh food with no additives.

Then a walk down to the lake edge and we passed Wednesday and Cuckoo (another driver) fixing the mini-van.

The sun goes down very quickly and as soon as it does it was time for bed.

The pillow on my bed was like a bean bag.