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Mongolia; 17th August to 17th October 1993 Khovd page2

 

Quarantine lifted I took the fist MIAT (Mongolian airline) flight to Khovd. We stopped off at Moron for the plane to refuel. I bought some soup 80T (tugrug). The landscape further west seemed much drier with the odd lake. Eventually we flew by a huge lake, Khar Us Nuur (Black Water Lake) adjacent to Khovd.

          Gereltsogt had phoned his brother in law, Buriat from UB to say when I was arriving and to look out for a long red haired man, of which I was the only one on the plane.  I waited for a while, all the other passengers had been met. I then notice a man pacing up and down in his Deel (Mongolia traditional robe) and pointed toed Mongolian boots. He looked at me a couple of times and then timidly came up to me. I presented the letter and his eyes lit up and he greeted me with a half hug/half smelling of noses!

          Buriat spoke absolutely no English, like most of the Mongolians I met. He took my luggage and me on the back of his motorbike. Buriat’s ger (Round felet tent) was not in Khovd, but just by the Buyant River about 2 kilometres away. He seemed to be working a small pumping station that supplied water from the river to the town. This meant he had a supply of electricity for lights, a fridge that was crammed full of meat & an old large Russian TV!

          I was welcomed by his wife, Pagam (Gereltsogt’s sister) and was sat in the honoured north west section of the Ger. Suutei tsai (milk tea) with salt was prepared on the dung powered stove. This staple was odd at first, after a while I acquired a taste for it. Then the Vodka toasts with blessing to Khokh Tenger (Blue Sky), Gazariin Eej (Mother Earth), Gal Golomt (the spirit of the fire) and to the Buddha, yourself, with other variations of the four directions or to the people gathered in the ger.

          Buriat wanted to introduce me to his relations and friends, so off we went on the motorbike into Khovd city. The dusty streets were empty, even when we got to the only traffic lights in the centre of the city. We would enter compounds where gers and ram-shackled wooden, brick and concrete houses were by shouting out what about the dog to the owner. These dogs are vicious and must be held back by the owner the first time you come in. In the countryside it is the same, once they have you scent then everything is usually ok.

          Each time we met a friend it was more toasting and demonstrating my Anglii khöömii, my flute and Jews Harp playing, this along with photos of my family,

house and Morris Dancing really broke the ice. That meant more Vodka!!.

          My first breakfast was fried potatoes, lamb, raw onion, noodles and tea. Very sustaining, but hard to eat on a hangover.

          We visited a Buddhist monk who had recently put on his robes again, my photos of H.H. the Dalai Lama proved very welcome and this was an ideal present for him. He blessed us with incense, prayer and his damaru (small pellet drum).

          A new temple, Shar Sum had been build about 3 or 4 kilometres outside Khovd where the old monastery may have been. We travelled there but it was deserted and locked up. Later we found out that the monks had gone to UB for the summer.

          In the late 1930’s most of the monasteries and temples, maybe over 800 were destroyed by the Mongolian Communist Purges. Countless monks were killed, others were put into prison, became herdsmen or escaped to Inner Mongolia in China. Brian Barren of the BBC made a great documentary about this for the BBC in the early nineties. If you would like to help the Buddhism in Mongolia project of the Tibet Foundation then please click below

 

http://www.tibet-foundation.org/page/bim

 

UB

Khovd 1

Khovd2

Khovd3

Khovd4

Khovd5

Chandman

Sum

Journeys page