Day 21: Tsenkher to Khuree Tour Camp
*photos to come later*
When the alarm went off this morning I wants to keep sleeping so badly. The mornings seem to always be cool in Mongolia so getting up out of the ger is usually a struggle. On top of that I didn’t sleep all that well the night before. Before getting out of bed Shantel sent me a few cute messages including an adorable photo of her and her niece which was a great way to start the day.
We all met for breakfast at 6:30am which for me was really just soup and some salad I immediately felt suspicious of at least sight. I should have trusted my instinct, but hungry I reluctantly ate it despite it the fact that it smelled a bit off. It didn’t take long before my stomach as feeling pretty awful. A couple of the others also weren’t feeling great and I was pretty convinced it was the salad. Getting on the road around 7:30am we began the long and painful car ride. Tugi told us that we were taking the mess bumpy route which is hard to believe since I can barely recall a steady moment the entire drive. At points we actually drove across small rivers and there wasn’t a paved moment during the entire ride. To keep ourselves entertained for some of it we played guess the composer/artist + songs/soundtrack from obscure music Jamie would play for us. In most cases, we couldn’t figure it out.
When we stopped for Kim to find somewhere private to go the washroom we all figured it was a good time to try as well. I was also feeling quite grateful to get a break from the roller-coaster dirt/rock path driving. For a great deal of the drive I was feeling very nauseated and on a few occasions felt pretty close to vomiting. I went to go the pee near what looked just like a pile of stacked rocks and rubbish to me. Tugi told me when I returned not to go there again since they are respected markings and that I was something he explained before so I should have known. I felt bad, but I was pretty clueless about it’s significance and think I may have had my headphones in when he explained it before. At this point though it was challenging to focus on much more than the awful feeling in my stomach. I knew I had to get that salad out of my system if I was going to feel any better so I found some privacy and within a few moments vomited about 5 times (sorry I know too much info about historical sake I want to include these details). It was as anyone might expect a pretty unpleasant experience, but did provide quite a bit of relief.
Back on the road, we drove for a while longer running into numerous cows, yaks, sheep, horses, and goats as seems to be the norm. While driving Tugi to us about a nearby environmental issue upsetting many of the local people. A gold mining company was massively polluting the river which was directly impacting the local’s source of drinking water. Tugi spoke about the issue with total disgust and frustration. He was clearly on the side of the locals. Just before 1pm we arrived at the camp and I couldn’t be happier to have done so. We ate lunch which soup and some other veggies with rice I think. Since we skipped seeing a monastery on the way (not by choice, but because we couldn’t make it in time if we wanted to arrive by lunch and the roads sucked) all we had on the agenda was seeing the nearby Orkhon waterfall which was just 2km away and would probably occupy only a couple of hours. Given that a few of us weren’t feeling 100% we took a couple hours to rest and I took a great nap.
I woke up from my nap just before we planned to set off to the waterfall. The waterfall it’s was quite nice and pretty powerful. At 24 meters tall I’ve obviously seen taller and more powerful waterfalls, but it was still a very picturesque sight. One thing I liked was that we were able to take in its beauty from both above and below after taking a short hike to the bottom. Tugi also got a few great photos of Dave and I and a group shot of the family. Dave and I also found a small cave which was cool as well. Rather than walking back up to the top of the path though Tugi, Dave and I opted to climb up the side. It was a pretty easy climb and made for an adventurous experience.
Returning from the waterfall we had some spare time left so we went for a short walk to the nearby river surrounded by a lot of cows, yaks, and crossbreeds. I realized while walking I’ve really started to appreciate the beauty of cows and yaks a lot more on this trip. I wanted to go give them all a big rub but knew better than to approach them since it would probably cause them anxiety more than anything.
Dinner followed the short hike which was soup, rice, salad, and fries. Pretty simple overall, but sufficient. Once dinner was finished we made plans to meet for 7:30am and then went to our gers to wait for them to start a fire for us. It should be noted that the family running this place were so sweet and had some pretty adorable kids. Once the fire was going I went for a shower and returned to a warm ger where I finished writing and talked briefly with my pal Tom and Shantel before bed.