Monday, June 30, 2014

Nature Girl

 Well, I'm done writing about reindeer.  Veni, Vidi, Reliqui, as the saying (almost) goes.  In my mind I've already moved forward into the next year, which will see me in Southeast Asia at Christmas and Greece at Tsaagan Sar.  Today I bought tickets, and that makes everything real.  I'll be home in approximately a week, with a brief layover hanging out with whomever I can scare up in Seoul on a Sunday afternoon.

Countryside?  Bah.  I'm over it.  At least until I go to see the swans in Sukhbaatar with Engrish in October.
However, as mentioned, I did visit Khuvsgul Lake while I was out.  She was Nature in all her beautiful, barfy splendor.  Khuvsgul's the second oldest lake in the world (if you can believe your trusty Lonely Planet), Lake Baikal's very own Babysis. 

Hmmm.  I'm maybe understanding why my students have a hard time figuring out when I'm using sarcasm and when I'm not.

Khuvsgul is beautiful, don't get me wrong.  I went for a cruise around the lake on the boat pictured above, the Sukhbaatar, so that I could really get the scope of the lake's beauty, not to mention her size.  The water was so blue that I couldn't help taking a shload of pictures of the boat's wake, and how the light caught on (and in) the water.  I walked a ways along its shoreline (mostly because I was killing time before the cruise, which was NOT the cruise on Hakone - there was no first class for starters, no coke, and the lady selling khuushuur ran out just as I went to buy one.  My life is tough).  But I was pretty worn down by this point in my trip, and I really couldn't give a flying fig newton.

See, attitude really is everything.
Besides the blueness of the water (you could say it blue itself!) my mind was blown by the size of it.  That kind of indistinct blur above the horizon?  Yeah, that's not the far's the island in the middle.  Khuvsgul isn't Mongolia's largest lake by surface area (that's Uvs, for you trivia fans), but it is biggest by volume, and contains 70% of Mongolia's fresh water.
But the actual highlight of coming to Khatgal (the town on the southern shore of the lake), was staying at Garage 24.  Khatgal used to be - basically - a truck stop on the way to Russia, and this was one of the service stations.  Well, some enterprising genius turned it into a hostel for visitors to the lake, and it is fantastic.  The owner had people ready to answer the phone when my driver pulled into Khatgal at oh-dark-hundred and explain how to get there.  The beds might not have been super soft, but I had a whole room to myself (I was the only person in a dorm made for eight), and the food was like a miracle unfolding in my mouth.  Chili Burrito.  Two words, neither of which implies mutton or noodles.  I ordered them for a late lunch, then woke up later to pay my bill and order them again for dinner.  My only complaint was that their selection of discarded books was lacking a bit - I was initially excited to see Dan Brown's Inferno sitting on the top of their piano, but it was in German, and the few books which were NOT in other languages were snooze worthy.  So maybe when the day comes that I finally leave Mongolia for good I will have to send them my leavings, just because them being there on this trip was amazing.


  1. I want to see more pictures of the hostel. It sounds very interesting. Something we would have loved. How did you hear about it?

    1. Five and Engrish stayed there last year, and Engrish gave me the brochure she picked up from them. Sorry I didn't get more photos (meant to, but I was lazy) but here's their website: