26 year old Canadian, Dutch resident travelling to every country in the world (111 so far) to become the first Canadian female to visit them all. Bestselling travel AUTHOR and founder of popular #TRLT Twitter chat.
“Are you as tired as I am? I couldn’t sleep through those dogs howling all night long!”
All we ever got in response to Future’s queries was head-shaking and an endless series of “noes,” though every once in a while they’d have goulash, a delightful dish made with beef, noodles, and potatoes.
“The six-inch-diameter hose located near a few gers and buildings in the open desert was used as the small community’s water supply and wash site.”
“We all jumped at the opportunity to wash the twenty-eight layers of Mongolian grime off the limbs we could expose without stripping down.”
Soon we were again sitting in puddles of sweat as we drove further into this strange country. There were still many herds of goats, sheep, horses, and even camels roaming free.
We were stopping at the desolate ruins of Ongiin Khiid, an old Buddhist monastery. It was constructed in the late eighteenth century to honour the Dalai Lama’s first-ever visit to Mongolia. Once home to hundreds of monks, it was now the crumbling essence of what had once been a major spiritual spot.
Here’s an interesting fact. Mongolia has only a little under 2,000km (1,243mi) of paved road!” Ammon announced to our groaning, aching bodies.
Chapter #37 “Trust from Dust”
Aside from the beetles leaving zipper-like tracks in the singing sands, Khongorin Els dunes appeared to be completely untouched.
“These sand dunes stretch across 100km (62mi) and are up to 20km (12.4mi) wide. Some of them reach heights of 800m (.5mi),” Ammon told us before slipping his guide book back into his baggy, cut-off shorts.
We climbed until we could climb no more, though Bree and Future somehow found the energy to chase each other playfully.
Crunching grainy bits between our teeth, we returned to the lower edges of the dunes where we’d left the camels and found a curious hole our two guides had dug. They explained they were letting the camels have a drink and showed us the little pool of mucky water sitting in the bottom.
“These are Bactrian camels from Asia. Asian camels are a lot rarer than the one-humpers that come from the Middle East Ammon explained. – Sand Dunes
Remember the ice canyon yesterday at Yolin Am?
Yolin Am, Ice canyon with Future and Bre
The silent girl led us around the marshy edges on a crudely made boardwalk to where the water spewed up from the ground.
Chapter #38 “Prehistoric “
So far, the van had made Future proud and always worked again after a bit of fiddling. Despite the constant threat of breaking down, we felt we had no choice but to go on with our trip, having come this far.
“What you really should be doing is looking at the scenery,” Ammon suggested. I think he was just tired of hearing my comments: “Oh, my sweet Rhett,” “Oh, my heart,” “Oh, Rhett!” “Counting dead horses, you mean? Gotta love doing that,” I replied, barely looking up from the sand-covered pages.”
“Oh! Fourteen,” Mom shouted, and sure enough, there was yet another dried up skeleton. Half buried, its backbone was displayed prominently enough to play it like a xylophone. Its deep, dark eye sockets were surrounded by bits of brown hide, and tufts of hair still clung to its white skull.
The vultures were like no other bird I’d ever seen in the wild, given the sheer size of them and their very pronounced slouch.
When we got too close to the gory scene, they either hopped away with their heads sweeping down below their shoulders or took off, spreading their wings so wide they cast shadows over us.
It was dryer and hotter and deader here than anywhere else, if that was possible. We were in the heart of the flaming cliffs of Bayanzag, and it looked as if we really had entered the burning pits of Hell.
“That used to be lush vegetation out there,” Mom said as she surveyed the huge red valley. “Yup! And seaside property, too, complete with dinosaurs,” Ammon added.
This was the first place they ever discovered fossilized dinosaur eggs.
Now we were stuck right in the heart of that sea/desert, surrounded by the burning cliffs. We all crawled out of the minivan and took our usual places. Mom jumped into the driver’s seat and moved the seat forward so she could reach the pedals, while the rest of us positioned ourselves at the rear of the van with our hands flat on the burning hot, hatchback trunk.
Future and a couple of guys from the museum dragged in some rugs and laid them out to cover the hardwood floor. It was intriguing to know that I was sleeping amongst long-lost dinosaur eggs and wild, fossilized beasts.
Dinner by candlelight on the floor with a roof over our heads was exactly the comfort we needed after a long, stressful day.
Chapter # 39 “Tow Truck“
Scanning the baked, bare earth, I felt as minuscule as an ant reaching towards the sky to shout at nonexistent birds above.
I heard Future making light of the situation, but now that the van was toast, he and Ammon decided their first move was to scout the area for any sign of civilization and help.
About 200m (656ft) away, a dozen or so camels roamed freely. Wild herds were a common sight, but these were the only living creatures we’d seen all day.
“Yeah, I catch camel,” Future said. “No way,” I said. “I is professional. I know it camels,” he said. “This fuming camel was about to become our personal tow truck.
Once the tow strap was wrapped around the camel’s two humps in a figure eight, we tied the other end to the front bumper. “Is impossible,” he said
Chapter #40 “Stranded”
I heard the sound of his crunching footsteps on the desert fading, and held my breath to listen for as long as possible.
Only a little green to be seen. Gobi Desert
“Look what I caught!” she announced excitedly when she finally came back, holding out her hands to show us. The lizard’s head was slightly oversized for his skinny body.“C’mon Norman,” I said, quickly naming the lizard, “let’s go find your friends.”
Savannah, I met you and your sister and mother at a show in Victoria, BC and purchased your books there. What an amazingly well written book and what an amazing family to take on this adventure as you all did. I could see the images as I was reading and could feel the emotions of you and your family. I’ve always been interested in other cultures and this story helped to make some of them come alive for me and understand much more than I thought I already did. Simply loved this book and truly proud of your family and what you’ve done! Now on to book #2!
Oh hey Rick!!! So glad you contacted us here. I saw your review on Amazon.com yesterday and was SO happy!! Was bummed I didn’t know how to get ahold of you, but here you are. Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate it. I can’t wait for you to start #2 and read another of your reviews. Would be great to see you again when I’m in town again in October for another book tour. 🙂
… and book 2 starts off with a bang… what a way to wake up! Looking forward to the rest of it. Also looking forward to seeing you all again in October. I would be honored to meet Ammon as well. I don’t have a private way to msg so I’d like to post this link if I may. It’s not commercial.. it’s just a quiet place where I put some of my thoughts and once in a while share them with people I have connected with in a positive way.
Your book has been my Christmas reading; it has been so good to read about the dry and arid places of the world, which are in stark contrast to our UK weather at present. It is lovely to forget the rain, rain and more rain precipitating upon us. I am really enjoying your book.