At Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur we staid in a guest-ger of a Mongolian family camping by the lake (Tsagaan Nuur). We witnessed the killing of a sheep, where the guy used a small Swiss army knife to slice open the chest, reach in with one arm and snap the aorta.
Near the lake, a dormant volcano and a nice ice-cave were interesting. But the most impressive site, I suppose, we didn't get to feast our eyes on. Ugi, our driver, told of seven stone gers, in the middle of a forest, a days ride away by horse. In his own childhood, he had seen the gers himself and they apparently look exactly like stone gers, door, furniture inside, the whole lot. But in his childhood, only four of the gers remained and now, supposedly, only two are still left standing.
Similarly, the '100-year old tree' with '100 branches' was completely green in his childhood but now seemed close to expiring. Still, the multitude of squirrels that were hanging out in the tree and were feasting on the food tourists and pilgrims would hand them didn't seem to mind.
Erdene Zuu, the most prominent monastery in Mongolia was quite impressive, but only a shadow of its former glory. And the stories Ugi told us of some of the things that happened during the Stalinist purges were far more impressive. We stood on one ridge, near a river, with a clear drop of some 300 meters, were hordes and hordes of monks were driven off the cliff. At another site, were a small prayer house was rebuilt after the whole site had been leveled, no less then 1500 monks were killed and buried.
Sleeping on one of the rolling hills for our last night, with no trees for kilometers around, we were forced to practice the ancient Mongolian tradition of burning dry cow and camel dung. Surprisingly, the stuff doesn't give of that much heat, but burns for hours.
The next day, our last, we had a seven hour drive back to Ulaan Baatar, but luckily across paved roads, one of the first since our departure from Erdenet over a week before. We ended up being chased by an off-duty cop, carrying six people in his small Suzuki, who felt disadvantaged by Ugi's driving. He drove us off the road, got out of the car and almost pulled Ugi out of the car. Ugi was able to drive off, but the wicked man tried to hold on to the door for a while.