We have been driving on dirt roads for hours, and it is early afternoon, when suddenly there are buildings in front of us. It is a town. Actually, it should probably be called a small city simply because it is the capitol city of the region. These buildings would not shock anyone normally, but after driving on desolate earth for two days, my eyes are adjusted to the flat and plain landscape.
We pull over and take out the map and my guidebook, which has GPS coordinates. We determine that the GPS coordinates of this town do not agree with those written in the guidebook, so we cannot trust the coordinates provided for other locations either. Ugh. I don’t understand how the book could be published with useless GPS coordinates, but regardless, it is good to know our limitations while in civilization!
It is early afternoon and Dasha asks if I would like to spend the night here. This place is perfectly flat, the buildings are concrete block, and there is not a lick of color anywhere. I would much rather go find those cool vultures that eat bones. Decision made!
We continue through the countryside on more dirt roads as the landscape turns into green rolling hills all around us. Arriving at a fork in the road with signs I do not understand, we wind our way up a huge hill. Suddenly a massive statue of what looks like a mountain sheep with huge horns looks down on us. We curve around more hills and arrive at the top.
Wow! There is a fence and on either side of the top of the entrance gate are statues of the giant vulture and some other horned and cloven-hooved mammal. This place must get a lot of tourists, since there have to be 50 huge gers. These gers are much bigger than those I saw in the Ulaan Baatar—is it possible there are bathrooms inside the gers? However, it seems to be a ghost ger camp. No one is around, and there is no obvious reception building. We wander around calling out. Eventually I just knock on the door of one of the gers, and a white guy answers. He is a tourist who speaks English, and tells me we should go to the small, square concrete building, since that is the office.
We walk the 30 meters over ‘there’, and after calling out for a while longer, 2 women come over. Dasha talks to them and translates for me that the cost is $35 a night per person. What? I thought Mongolia would be developing world budget affordable– $105 for the three of us is not what I expected at all. There must be another place to stay. Dasha speaks with the women and then we walk back to our car.
More Driving, Again
We drive around some more—really there is no one and nothing around these hills, but we follow the road and come upon a small ger camp with fewer than 10 gers. They look like a typical home, and definitely do not have indoor toilets. Hopefully they charge a more affordable price.
Next Chapter: My First Ever Ger Camp Stay – warm and cozy!
Previous Chapter: Mongolian Camel Day!