Phenomenology is the new black

Sonia does The Steppes!!

Day 3 as the flu made an impromptu visit and had me bed-bound for the Sunday sleeping and writing – quite understandable considering the pace of the last 2 weeks.

So today we, Nomy our driver and yours truly venture out to the countryside – The Steppes – to see the wide open plains of Mongolia, mountains dusted with snow and all the wildlife – bar a wolf and an antelope – to keep me smiling like a kid in a sweet shop!!

We drive – weave, skid, criss- cross the road, avoid a head on collision, laugh, share jokes in two languages and gape at the sheer beauty and magnitude of this vast land.  Again no seatbelts as we ‘ride’ the highway, avoid massive pot-holes, roads that disappear and laugh like drains. We stop in a small village so our driver can fix his tyre -a necessity here – after some air for the tyre and myself we trudge forward on our adventure. We have hardly gone a mile when I spot a man with 2 huge birds on perches and the inevitable camel – my family know how much I adore these ships of the desert. So after much gasping and whooping I am cajoled into holding this magnificent eagle – now the chappie said it weighed about 5 kl – believe you me it was extremely heavy and clearly put into perspective the force with which it would hit its prey and knock them unconscious – I kept wanting to balance his weight by using my ungloved left hand – one look at those talons and one was advised not too!! The other large bird was an immature vulture – massive – I have to say that yes! it was an incredible experience holding this majestic bird but one did feel sad that these creatures are held prisoner merely for punters like me to hold and press the palm with Tugriks – all 3,000.000!! Nothing!


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The author attempting to hold a Mongolian Eagle


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The author holding a Mongolian Eagle


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A little further on another man and his creatures hoping for a punter just like me – even had a stuffed wolf! And yes! I did think it was real – how easily duped am I!! Much laughter from Nomy and my driver.


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More birds!


On we drive and again not far before I spot the famous Mongolian Horse and of course my driver is ready to pull over and watch with much amusement as I mount this noble beast – whilst the man’s two boys determined to give me a ‘show’ gallop off like madman into the distance – they could not have been more than 10 years old – bareback riding and as if part of the beast they glided so beautifully into the plains – yes well I had certain hopes too, but the man in charge held my lead rein tightly even as I protested I was just as good a horsewoman! – although the saddle has much to be desired – bare back is definitely the option. What the hell – I came, I rode, I conquered – it was a massive moment and one I will treasure as much as riding bareback around the pyramids at Giza!


image of boys galloping

boys galloping across the Steppes


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The author and mongolian horse

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Come on Tonto!!


A sitting trot with one of those saddles is indescribable agony – go bare-back!! No sooner have I dismounted than the baby camel catches my eye and hoping he/she is amiable I bound towards the sitting beast.  Well, as luck would have it ‘She’ is 5 months old and dearly loved and well handled so a sit and a cuddle could be in order. Indeed it was, never have I met such an adorable camel or one who seriously yearned for attention and some serious patting – so who am I to refuse!!


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The author goes gooey over a camel


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still going gooey!

Those of you who remember my antics in Egypt c. 1983 will remember the story of me and my then partner galloping through the Egyptian desert  south of Aswan with our 2 Nubian cameleers sauntering behind – cue Lawrence of Arabia music – that was another of those incredible moments in life when you know you are really alive!! Again, I rode mules, donkeys, horses and the regal Egyptian camel!

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Mongolian horses

It doesn’t get any better than this for me!

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Mongolian boy!

Thanks go to Nomy for getting some snaps of me  – usually it is me capturing everything so I am indebted to her for capturing these memories for me.  On we drive circumnavigating the lack of road/track dodging on coming traffic and still chuckling at the possibility of a head on with the next vehicle – c’est la vie en Mongolie!!  So I am wondering just what Nomy has in store for me next. I am told the next stretch of land is known as 100 trees and famous for one of Chinggis Khaan’s famous battles. Trees are few and far between in this fair land – so a noticeable landmark – Out of nowhere you see this gigantic silver statue – enormous does not cover this description – a monster of a statue to the great man himself – apparently this place is where  Chinggis found his legendary golden whip Tsonijin Boldog and to commemorate this moment in history this gargantuan sculpture is the standard bearer – all 40m of it and you can enter the building below this structure and climb up and pop out on the horse’s head – the views are incredible but not easy if you suffer from vertigo as I do! Check out

The complex houses a fantastic museum in the basement, a restaurant with jaw-dropping views and you can dress up as a Mongol Warrior and have your pikkie taken!! All great fun and worth every Tugrik!! My hot chocolate in the restaurant was delicious and most welcome as my finger-tips were numb and frozen – it may be summer time here but the wind is unrelenting and temperatures can drop very quickly.


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The Chinggis Khaan Statue


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image of Chinggis Khaan

Chinggis Khaan

What an incredible day that was rounded off by a walk downtown UB to see a quartet of singers belting out an acoustic version of Talking Head’sPsycho Killer”  another amazing moment in this wondrous place!

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musicians in the square


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One Comment

  1. Warren Maynard
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    I continue to be amazed. Before I forget, Karen wants yout o know she wants to talk but her computer only allows her t look at your blog and will not let her respond. That statue is incredible. I assume the photo looking up at the rider comes from the spot you pop out of in the horses head. That would be amazing coming across this in the middle of the plains. The horses and camel, eagle, vulture. haha I am stunned that you can take it all in. Its like looking into someones dream come true. I can imagine, knowing the birds were there just for the tourists would be a bit hard. I suppose life has a place for all.

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