Shipwreck Rock

Just near the Flaming Cliffs stands Shipwreck Rock.  Nearby we found an overlooking ridge and I asked Simya to take my photo.  After a dozen attempts, he just could not get it right.  So, I took a few shots and on the 3rd attempt I captured the above photo.  As we drove closer we crested a small bluff and I asked him to stop the truck because I thought that it would make a great photo (below).  I was very happy that we decided to visit the Flaming Cliffs and Shipwreck Rock in the morning as the rising sun really accented the red color of the rocks.


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The Flaming Cliffs

When we drove in to Bayanzak the evening before, Soyoloo asked me if I wanted to see the Flaming Cliffs.  But, the sun was setting behind them and they were hard to see in the darkened glare.  I decided instead that we should get up early and look at them in the rising sun.  In this way, the light would be hitting them directly providing plenty of light and, the sun would still be in its horizon red color.  I thought that this would put the cliffs in their best light.  We were not disappointed.

As we approached the cliffs, the wind was blowing so hard that we had to lean over so that we were not blown off the cliffs.  The battery in my camera chilled so quickly that it showed only 3 or 4 minutes of usable power even though it had a near full charge.

I tried to shoot as many photos as I could before my fingers froze.  The wind chill made it difficult to work the buttons on my camera; it really was a cold morning.  As I shivered in the cold, I watched as Soyoloo performed the rituals of a pious Buddhist.  He walked the Ovoo as prescribed by his religion.  He didn’t seem to mind the cold and I watched silently as he performed his rituals.  I had a good look around trying to soak in the beauty of the place.  The wind and cold were distracting but they added an eerie almost somber mood to the morning.  It was an experience I’ll never forget.


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Bayanzak

After another long day of driving, we arrived to the heart of the Gobi Desert.  Just to our south, the Gobi Mountains rose up to the horizon – the last barrier between Mongolia and the Southern Gobi.  Just north of the mountains we camped at Bayanzak along a dry river bank and tourist camping areas.  Soyoloo tells me that this entire area is full of gers and tourists during the summer.  But for now, we are the only people here save for the host family that greets us.  Once inside, we stoked a fire and Soyoloo began cooking our dinner.  With freshly charged batteries from our visit in Irtindala, I took some “down time” to do a little blogging.

Unlike the previous days visits in the Gobi, Bayanzak had very strong winds.  Even though the ger was mostly warm inside, the wind did find every crack and open spot and quickly chilled my body.  I layered several sleeping bags but it was still cold.  Simya loaned me his large goat blanket.  This heavy cashmere blanket was very heavy and warm, once it was on, I found that the area of my body that it covered was quite warm.  The only problem was that as I got too hot, I would push an arm, leg, or my head out into the cool air and after 5 or 10 minutes, the sub-zero cold would wake me.  I slept fine from about 9pm until 0200 but it was tough after that.  As I could not sleep, I took some time to keep the fire burning so that at least my driver and guide would be warm.  The stove – so important to the ger lifestyle – is always situated right in the center of the tent.  In this part of the Gobi, there is no wood or coal; the stove burns horse and camel dung only.  I was very curious to know what the manure would smell like as it burned and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn’t smell like anything .

In the morning, I dressed as quickly as I could as it was bitter cold.  With my protective clothing on it was quite warm despite the 15-20 knot winds that were howling outside.  We hurried to get loaded and over to the Flaming Cliffs before the sun rose too high on the horizon…


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