At a time when I found myself alone, I took a moment to visit the cabin of a family. A grandfather and his little grand daughter greeted me with joy and curiosity, while the grandmother served me the usual tea with a delicious melted cheese that tasted a bit like provolone but only a bit sweeter. We had been frequenting very few people in the days of the high steppe, so I was keen to engage with the nomads again and spend time with them. In any place of the world I visit, no landscape, no matter how spectacular it may be, means much to me if I am not experiencing the country through the human touch of the local people. They are the ones I look for in the midst of such a stunning visual treat. It is only through the local people that I learn about a country, that I better understand it and the ones who leave something rich inside me.
The cold had finally come to stay and the days after, even during daytime we had to cycle with warm clothes. The next day we finally reached the amazing lake, once again via its most remote and least explored part. It was an exciting arrival because I did not expect it to be so beautiful.
Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan is not a round and uniform lake, but quite the opposite, it is rather a splash of intense deep blue paint splattered against a green carpet. There we said goodbye to Marek and we decided to stay in complete solitude camping on its banks.
The long descending sun gave me time enough to hike up to a couple of surrounding peaks and experience one of the most amazing sunsets of this trip so far. I saw the colors go from cold blue and green, to the warmth of a reddish orange that lit up the colors of the soil.
On that ridge, trying to stand the intense cold, I stayed to see how the stars took over the sky as an incipient waning moon moon fell on the horizon.
The night finally fell over us, the stars had already made clear who would reign that night and under them we slept in yet another frosty night . Unforgettable moments, folks. Phenomenological experiences that could never ever be erased from my retina.
After the lake we started the end of our journey through the steppe on the way to the Gobi Desert . Magic accompanied us to the very last minute, but unfortunately, an unexpected surprise wiped out the smiles from our faces in the blink of an eye. Our stove, that had long been struggling to work, due to the shitty Mongol fuel, collapsed and died on us at the very time when we would start needing it the most. I hurt my hands trying to revive it to no avail, it was impossible, from that day on we would have to find a way to survive for the rest of our journey in the country without being able to cook. Now there would be a greater need to find nomads every day to get some help . The days preceding the desert were relatively easy. There were many gers along the way and every night we found help. Either they would let us cook our food or they would cook for us, we never had any problems. Hospitality at its best.
It is a land of horse tamers. It is common to find men coming and going riding with those long poles with which the tame even the wildest of the horses. Horses whose fame has given international prestige to Mongolia. From the time Genghis Khan used them as the primary mean to subjugate half of the planet until today, the Mongols are natural born riders. A Mongolian hops on a horse before learning how to walk, they ride them at wish, sitting on them or even standing on them, with or without saddle. Seeing it from a foreign perspective, the image is one of total fusion between man and horse. Rarely the horse has ever struck me as a beautiful animal, but here in Mongolia I have learned to appreciate its true beauty.