Last weekend, Swiss Friend, the Elf, and I decided to head over to the nearby province of Uvs to visit a friend. According to Lonely Planet, Uvs is one of the least-visited provinces in Mongolia, and, after visiting, it’s not difficult to see why. It’s hard to get to, it’s far from everything, it’s not a convenient jumping-off point for exploring the Mongolian west, and even if you do make it, there’s not a whole lot to do when you arrive. But with a little courage and a high tolerance for car sickness, you get this:
And that alone is worth the price of admission, no?
Our trip to Uvs began with a five-hour bus ride over the worst road that I have yet experienced in Mongolia, and we apparently took the good route.
I have no idea what the “bad” route looks like, but it’s probably lined with Kim Kardashians, and it probably goes to hell
We arrived broken, sore, and carsick, but then we met up with our friend and decided our suicide pact around hour four was perhaps a bit of a hasty decision that would be tabled until the following morning, at which point the committee promptly forgot about it because HOLY SHIT GRASS.
Khovd is where the Gobi meets the Altai Mountains, and while it has much to offer in the way of landscape drama, “green” is not an adjective one usually applies to living in a desert. But Uvs, oh beautiful Uvs, is so green!
After wandering, we checked out the tourist office which, since there are no tourists, also doubles as a classroom/clubhouse. Then we found a restaurant that has inexplicably decided “dictator chic” is in vogue.
HGTV Mongolia either doesn’t exist, or else exists in a form I’m not comfortable watching. It’s probably hosted by a Kardashian.
And then a drunk guy threw rocks at us.
The next day, we hired our friend’s coworker to drive us to the lake. Uvs tourism does not offer a lot of variety, but if you love
lamp lake, you will love the bajillion and one lakes in Uvs. We went to the biggest one, fittingly named Uvs Lake, which is apparently not even the nicest of the bajillion and one lakes, but I couldn’t tell you. I loved it. Here are the things we found at Uvs Lake:
SPECIFICALLY, SHALLOW WATER.
And that’s about it. But it was beautiful and peaceful and surprisingly warm. And so shallow, we could walk out hundreds of meters and still never be in deeper than our knees.
After a few hours, we decided we wanted to see some more of area surrounding Uvs, so when our guide offered to show us a special place up in the mountains, we were all about it. We picked up our friend as soon as he got out of work and headed out.
I watched a thunderstorm break on the mountains, and it was awesome.
We all jumped out of the car at the first stop, thinking it was our end destination. It wasn’t, but we scattered anyway and our poor driver had to round us all back up from our respective mountains.
Our actual destination was way, way up in the mountains. We drove 5 miles an hour up rock inclines to get there, but when we finally did, we found Pippi Longstocking’s secret Mongol hideout:
I may have chopped off all my hair, but it’s still long enough for Pippi braids.
On a completely unrelated note, our driver really liked us.
On our way back down, we found a rainbow! And desperately hoped it was a job rainbow and not, like, a continued unemployment rainbow, or worse, a you-have-to-back-to-school-again rainbow.
We also briefly stopped at the ger of our driver’s uncle, who is a herder. A very unhappy sheep was tied up out front. It got even more unhappy when they tied its legs together and put it in the trunk of the car, as you do.
The next day, Swiss Friend and I decided we needed to climb another mountain, so we did. Technically there were stairs we were supposed to take, but stairs are for babies (not literally) and we go up the side.
The verdict: Uvs City is lovely (for a Mongolian town, at any rate), and the landscape is beautiful. But if you want to be one of the handful of tourists per year who sees Uvs, hire a car and driver so you can get out of town because that’s where the real awesomeness is.