A terrible night. Not the fault of our Ger, which was perfectly comfortable. It was Saturday night and it appeared everyone was out partying, A karaoke bar close by, people walking past talking and shouting, some obviously the worse for wear, cars driving past with music blaring and barking dogs. Dennis got up at 01.45 as sleep wasn’t possible and was looking at a You Tube clip on how to replace the clutch master cylinder – it is an issue we have to face! It quietened down a bit after 02.30 and we were just dropping off when a car alarm went off nearby. It went on and off a number of times during the rest of the night. Grrrrrrr.
So, we decided an easy day for a change as we are tired after little sleep. Just 139ks on a tar sealed road to Harhorin. Then an afternoon to rest. After breakfast at the Fairfield Cafe, we needed to find an ATM to get some cash for diesel. After trying 5 unsuccessfully, I gave up. While searching for more provisions and seeing a sort of small market, pulled over. While I was hunting for tomatoes, Dennis met an Australian couple, Jason and Anna. Living in Melbourne and driving a well kitted out Australian registered, Land Rover Discovery. They are doing a reverse route to us, having shipped their vehicle to Vladivostok from Aus. It was interesting, and useful, to hear of their experiences in Vladivostok and on the journey from there through Eastern Russia and across the Russian/Mongolian border.
Luckily, we found a garage that accepted credit cards and filled up.
Harhorin itself is a nondescript place. Just south of the city, though, are two interesting sites. We reached the first, the oldest Buddhist monastery in Mongolia, Erdene Zulu Khiid, at lunch time. We sat outside the city walls and had lunch, before going inside to explore. Sadly, much was destroyed in the Stalinist purges of 1937. Of the 60 – 100 temples only 3 remain. The monks were either killed or dispatched to Siberian gulags. It reopened in 1965 as a museum but not as a place of worship. It became active again in 1990 when religious freedom was restored and is now considered the most important monastery in the country.
Next exploration of the remains of the centrepiece of the ancient capital, Karakoram, Tumen Amgalan (the Palace if Worldy Peace). A path lead to a large stone turtle. There were originally four marking the boundaries and acting as protectors of the city. Apparently turtles are considered symbols of eternity. The palace has recently been excavated by a team of German archeologists. Little of the city itself has been excavated, so there isn’t much to see. The capital was only active for 40 years before Kublai, Genghis’s grandson, moved it to Beijing.
On to find a camping place for the night and somewhere to relax for the rest of the afternoon. This meant washing and tidying up and work on the Land Rover. It was a rest from bumping over rough tracks though. Tomorrow we head for the modern day capital, Ulaan Baatar.