Friday, November 17, 2006

Mongolia | Bayankhongor Aimag | Ekhiin Gol Oasis

During the early 1920s Ekhiin Gol was one of the camps of the notorious lama-turned-bandit Dambijantsan, a.k.a. Dambija, Ja Lama, Avenger Lama, etc. When Dambijantsan first came here he found Chinese peasants from Gansu province growing opium. He did not approve of drugs, nor Chinese for that matter, so he proceeded to kill all the Chinese and destroy their opium plants. He then set about robbing caravans on the nearby Shar Zam, or Yellow Road, the main caravan route from Mongolia to Tibet, Beijing, and Anxi in Gansu. There is a woman now living in Ekhiin Gol whose father was a lieutenant in Dambijantsan’s gang of marauders. To this day Ekhiin Gol remains an extremely fertile oasis with a huge crop of melons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. It is the only place I have been in Mongolia where you are routinely served tomato juice instead of milk tea when you enter a ger.

Mongolia | Bayankhongor Aimag | Gobi Desert

Wandered out to Bayankhongor Aimag for a camel trip through the Gobi. Traveled 173 miles by camel in twelve days. Southern Bayankhongor Aimag is truly the Big Empty. During twelve days of travel we did not see another human being.
Amarbuyant Khiid, where we started the camel trip
Heading south from Amarbuyant Khiid
According to legend many frightening apparitions appear out of the dust storms and mirages of the Gobi Desert. At first glance this might appear to be one of them, but actually it is only camel herder, historical consultant, and discoist Zolzaya.
The Big Empty
A Marlboro Moment for camel herder Davakhoo
Camel herder and historical consultant Zolzaya stuffing her pie holeThree brothers I hired camels from: Zevgee, Khaidav, and Davakhoo