Goodbye GobiSeptember 18, 2019 in Mongolia ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C
Our last day in the Gobi, Monday, was a relatively easy one as we had no specific activities planned and the main event was to complete our circuit with a 5 hour drive from Camp 3 back to Camp 1, leaving at 8am.
Apart from the last half hour this was off-road and a tough drive for Choijo over difficult, mainly gravel, terrain. It needs full time concentration particularly with some challenging dry river bed crossings to negotiate. Our vehicle is just about OK for the conditions (it’s not 4x4) and each bone shaking journey is fine but most definitely bumpy. As always here there are no shortage of things to look at, Nomadic camps, livestock, herders, mountains etc. We stop every hour or so for a ten minute break, where Janet and I stretch our legs whilst NK and Choijo enjoy a quick fag!
By the way our mobile internet has surprisingly worked well across the Gobi as long as we don’t use video data and it’s allowed us to keep the blog running to time. A little bonus we found on the internet today was some information about our Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Camouflage Wearing Ibex Blasting Asshole from California (think there’s a song title there somewhere!) Larry. His calling card alerted us to the fact that he owns a Real Estate business (ironically it should be legal to shoot them) and a web search showed that he had been a very naughty boy in 1998 (aged 45) when he was caught smuggling Cuban cigars into the USA through San Francisco airport (a definite no no). The Newspaper report covered the fact that authorities had him under surveillance as he had previous offences in this area having been caught transporting them back before and posting quantities of them to friends whilst travelling to Mexico. Apparently he was buying them for $5 and selling them for $40. The report was mid-Court case and said he could face up to 2 years in jail but we couldn’t find the outcome. Let’s assume he got banged up!
Anyway back to Mongolia and we woke at 6am on Tuesday for our Hunnu flight to UB, which was scheduled for 8.20, but actually departed 20 minutes early, which nearly caught us out as all of the hold luggage was already on board when we arrived. When we got to the airport we said a fond farewell to NK and Choijo who have been fantastic companions over the four days. The former, as our guide, has perfect English, however our driver spoke not a word but we all managed to communicate effectively and had a good laugh throughout. As we took off they were starting the long journey back and were hoping that they could be back to UB in about 12 hours with the journey, fortunately, all on tarmac roads.
We are sad to leave the Gobi but are so pleased to have had the opportunity to see a unique and wonderful place, steeped in traditions virtually unchanged for centuries. Mongolia has a huge land mass, being the 18th largest country in the World. It has a population of just 3 million people, 1.5 million of who live in the Capital, UB, a big city not dissimilar to any modern bustling metropolis in the Western World.
However away from UB there are 1.5 million people including 230,000 herding families who make up a huge percentage of the rural population and many of these are nomads like the ones we encountered yesterday.
Livestock numbers in Mongolia are quite staggering and in last years audit numbered 84 million in total, made up almost exclusively of 38 million Sheep, 35 million Goats, 5 million Horses and 5 million Cattle.
We have never seen a country split so definitively between City dwellers and the countryside inhabitants (they have absolutely zero in common apart from being Mongolian) but fortunately the sheer volume of established self-sufficient livestock herding families should ensure that their traditions are able to survive for several more generations. We really hope so.Read more