I was just about to write a blog post about something completely different, when a familiar image popped up on my desk top. It was taken on one of my very last “proper” holidays nearly twenty-four years ago, but I remember it as though it were yesterday.
I thought I would say a little more about the beautiful scenery and friendly people of Mongolia. I have been fortunate to encounter both on all my travels, but perhaps none more than in this most remote place. The image featured above was taken in the evening near the end of a ten-hour drive from a small airfield to Lake Hubsugul (or Khövsgöl Nuur). Of course it shouldn’t have taken anywhere near as long, but the battered Land Rovers hired for the journey kept breaking down and it became a familiar routine for everyone to pile out and sit on the grass while our drivers made yet another miraculous repair.
This was the view in the opposite direction to the image at the top.
This was the view of our convoy from the other side of the road as we prepared to set off for the final leg.
The region around Hubsugul is truly stunning and one that perhaps deserves a blog post of its own at some point in the future. Suffice to say that it came to an end a few days later as we boarded the trusty Land Rovers one last time, for a short drive to catch a light aircraft for a flight to the Aranghai region. The image below was taken as we transferred from the plane to a mini-bus at the other end. I was able to capture the moment the pilot accepted some snuff from a passing horseman. The slide has faded and the colours are no longer true, but it still brings back one of my favourite memories. As the bus pulled away, the rider jumped on his horse and galloped after us. In turn, we all waved like maniacs until he was no more than a trail of dust in the distance.
The next few days were spent riding around, our belongings and ger on carts pulled by friendly yaks. Sadly I lost an entire roll of film at this time, risking a photograph in an area we were told was inhabited by “bad spirits”. I may have loaded it incorrectly, but it’s never happened before or since. The wild and rugged scenery will have to remain no more than a memory.
Our final stop was with this extended family living in a handful of gers in the middle of nowhere. As usual, they welcomed strangers with open arms. Seeing me with my camera, I was bemused to watch as the entire family got ready for a portrait. The children were dressed first and then the parents disappeared, returning in their finest national costume. Of course I was more than happy to oblige. Unfortunately the incredibly bright sun wasn’t kind to my slide film and there are details lost forever in the heavy shadows. My biggest regret though is not being able to return the compliment by sending them a few framed prints.