We’re in a hurry to get going, since it’s nearly 1pm by the time we return from the market (and the pickpocket!), load up the car, and leave home. Driving to Gobi takes a long time—a really long time! Like 2 days long, if you don’t want to sit in the car for 12 hours straight. The scenery is beautiful and I have the front passenger seat.

Packing the car for the road to Gobi Desert. Dasha's daughter, Binderya, and dad watch as he ties down the spare tires.

Packing the car for the road to Gobi Desert. Dasha’s daughter, Binderya, and dad watch as he ties down the spare tires.

Everything is loaded up for the road to Gobi, including Binderya.

Everything is loaded up for the road to Gobi, including Binderya.

Leaving Ulaan Baatar

Exiting the city, we pass a massive building that reminds me of a UFO. I would guess it is a stadium, except that it is far from the city and has a tiny parking lot. So, I just snap a photo of the wild looking building with my phone as we drive by. Dasha asks if I’d like to stop, but the sun is high and the light is too harsh to get a really good photo.

As we leave Ulaan Baatar on the road to Gobi, we pass this UFO-like building. Is it a stadium?

As we leave Ulaan Baatar on the road to Gobi, we pass this UFO-like building. Is it a stadium?

 

Ovoo – Ceremonial Rock Pile

We do make a stop at the ceremonial place called an ovoo, that sits beside the road less than an hour out of the city. At first I’m not sure why we’re pulling over. Are we going to tie a colored cloth on the fence? That’ll be really cool! I’ve never seen a prayer flag-type thing like this in real life before. Dasha grabs a small bag from under his seat, and gets out of the SUV.

He walks over to the chain link fence surrounding the ovoo without saying a word to me. As he walks the whole way around the fence he tosses what looks like birdseed into the air every few steps. Binderya and I respectfully watch this ritual.

When we get back in the car I ask about this, and find out that Dasha was making an offering for good travels. Cool! I’m still nervous we’ll get stuck in a hot hot Mongolia desert, so I’m fine with any good luck offerings.

Ovoo outside of Ulaan Baatar on the road to Gobi. We watch quietly as Dasha walks all the way around while tossing an offering into the air for safe travels.

Ovoo outside of Ulaan Baatar on the road to Gobi. We watch quietly as Dasha walks all the way around while tossing an offering into the air for safe travels.

Continuing on the dirt road to Gobi, Dasha and Binderya laugh and chat constantly, having fun with each other. Sometimes Dasha translates a funny anecdote for me, but generally I just enjoy the happy atmosphere and smile. Sometimes I laugh when they laugh, simply because laughter is contagious—it’s perfect for the introvert side of me that doesn’t require constant interaction.

However, after a few hours, I start feeling a little lonely, since I am the only person not laughing non-stop. Soon we pull out some bread and sausage, a cutting board and knife, and we make snacks to much on. I put mustard on my sausage, and it’s delicious. I offer the mustard to Binderya and she declines. Dasha takes a taste, and nearly spits it out. Binderya and I laugh! Well, the mustard is all mine!

Wildlife Lookout

I assign myself the job of spotting wildlife, domestic life—actually any non-plant life. The landscape is desolate, so there isn’t much action. Dasha is a falcon hunter, and has the best eyes for spotting things of anyone I’ve ever met, and that’s how he gets us to the asphalt 2-lane road, after driving on a dirt road for about an hour after leaving the ovoo. He lets me try out his amazing binoculars, which are so clear—obviously professional gear—that I feel like I can see miles and miles.

After driving on a dirt road for a while, we get on this paved road to Gobi.

After driving on a dirt road for a while, we get on this paved road to Gobi.

Next Chapter: Camels in the Distance. Super Thrilled!

Previous Chapter: Yikes! The Ulaanbaatar Pickpocket Hits

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