Tsetserleg (Цэцэрлэг)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

We had a very pleasant drive from Ogii Nuur to Karkhorin (Хархорин). It started off on firm dirt tracks and after about 25kms abruptly transitioned to a sealed road (at N47.64613 E102.85266). It is a little weird to be driving along in a mostly untouched beautiful green valley feeling like you have escaped the civilized world, and then suddenly the world reappears in the form of a sealed road. But we were glad to see this road, as it meant we would be able to cross the river just before Karkhorin and would not need to back-track.

Although Karkhorin was 71kms from where we camped for the night, we still managed to make the journey quickly and arrived around 8:30am. The place was just waking up and our attempts to find a coffee failed completely. We visited Erdene Zuu Monastery which is one of the more important monasteries in Mongolia. The temperature was still a chilly 8ºC (46ºF) with a stiff breeze making it feel a lot colder. Regardless, we made a visit of the grounds and had a tour of the small but interesting museum. By the time we finished we rushed back to the car to re-warm ourselves. It was hard to believe that back in the day, this town served as the capital for the Mongolian empire, granted only for 40 odd years before they moved it elsewhere.

Karkhorin was not the most attractive of towns. And everything looked like it was shut because in winter the doors really are shut. And unfortunately many of the buildings appeared to have been abandoned and were crumbling from neglect. That and the lack of good coffee meant we did not hang around.

The drive to Tsetserleg was very nice with more magnificent scenery and on a good and sealed road; the first 40kms there were some heavily pot-holed sections though. We covered the 115kms in a little over 2 hours. Tseterleg is the capital of the Arkhangai Aimag (province) and is quite presentable with the multi-coloured buildings and roofs. It is easy to imagine how cold this place gets in the depth of winter. Fortunately the sun was shining and the temperature had crept up to probably 12ºC, making for a very nice day.

We had just sat down for lunch and coffee at the Fairfield Guesthouse and Cafe, when the Ivor clan suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly appeared. They were meant to be four days ahead of us. It was nice to see them again and to hear about their challenging road condition stories. We got a little more information on the road ahead and the conditions we might encounter.

View back over our Camp Spot.
Where did that road come from.
Erdene Zuu Monastery – Prayer Temple with Stupa
Erdene Zuu Monastery – Backdrop Mountains
We saw many eagles along the roadside.
Stunning Scenery
View of Tsetserleg

Sunday, May 25, 2014

After a hearty breakfast we set-off to Tsagaan Nuur. The road there is reported to be in good condition and we should make it there with ease. Unfortunately the road conditions after the lake are very unclear at best and not good at worst. We plan to go to the lake and see for ourselves. Most likely we will be back in Tsetserleg in a few days.