After seeing all the sites in Kharkhorin thrice over, Swiss Friend and I decided to do a day trip to Tövkhön monastery on the recommendation of our ger camp buddies. Gaya, ger camp manager extraordinaire, hooked us up with a relative of hers for a ride, and with surprisingly little fuss or issues, we were off.
But in Mongolia, life isn’t easy for very long, and in our case, it was easy for about an hour before our car got stuck. How stuck, you ask? This stuck.
In a stroke of luck that we made sure to appreciate very, very hard, we got stuck within sight of a few gers that housed an extended family of horse herders. Amazingly, these people also owned a tractor, so we let them get to it while we:
1) Wandered around for two hours looking at the baby horses
2) tried (and then declined) massive bowls of fermented horse milk
3) chased away the cows that wanted to join our picnic
and 4) climbed mountains
Find the stuck jeep in that picture.
Eventually our car was freed from the mud, an event our driver and rescuers celebrated with various alcoholic beverages, as is only appropriate when you’re about to go drive on cliffs and things.
And then we were off!
Our drive finished at the base of a forest on a hill.
After half an hour of hiking, we reached monastery base camp, or whatever the official name is.
Monastery base camp sold iced tea, vodka, potato chips, and very little else.
Up we go!
The view from the top was…well, it was Mongolia, what do you expect?
Oh, and the monastery was pretty aiite too.
Tövkhön is the one of the oldest monasteries in Mongolia and has stood on this site in one form or another since 1648 when a fourteen-year-old monk looking to build a monastery decided this was a nice spot. You know, as opposed to fighting the Manchus, like every teenager with a head on his shoulders was doing at the time.
But the mountain kept going, so up we went. At one point we had to do some actual rock scaling to get to the top, only to discover the giant sign that said women weren’t allowed on that part of the mountain because insert reason here. In such instances, I like to pretend I’m illiterate.
And then our friend showed up! The day before, we had befriended a Dutch tour guide, so while his group ran around the mountain, we happily hung out with him.
After we got back to the ger camp that night, we discovered Gaya had somehow read our minds and booked us bus tickets back to UB for the next day. So instead of stressing, we packed our bags and spent the rest of the evening chilling with our ger camp buddies and being overwhelmingly happy that we had come to Kharkhorin after all.