I can’t tell you how stupidly excited I was about seeing this statue.
Having left the city and the smog behind, we headed for the Terelj National Park to spend most of the day exploring, before heading to the grand finale.
This was a tour company that knew how to keep the audience waiting in anticipation for the closing scenes.
The drive across the steppe featured small herds of Mongolian horses, cattle (being herded by a lone horserider) and flocks of sheep mingling with fluffy goats.
There were also the occasional more exotic residents.
A couple of stops includes some traditional Mongolian snacks…
There is no evidence of my reaction to fermented mare’s milk. I am not convinced that there is any need for me to try this beverage for a second time.
…Other stops included a visit to a Shaman relic. Tuya, my guide explained that to pray or seek guidance, you must walk around the pile of stones, clockwise, three times and find a rock or pebble to add to the pile.
Our next stop brought us into the Terelj National Park and to Turtle Rock… and, no I can’t think why it would be named this. (I did find myself thinking about the Discworld novels).
Here, we were given horse to ride up to the Elephant Monastery.
Mongolian riding is very different to English horse riding: ropes not reins, saddles with metal loops at the front and back and very broad stirrups to put your feet into.
The horses themselves trek in a different way to English ponies or horses.
On an English hack, it’s generally single file giving plenty of room between the animals so that they don’t kick or bite each other.
Mongolian horses ride as a pack, bunched up together and perfectly happy with close proximity.
We reached the temple grounds and dismounted to continue up the hill and 108 white and 8 black steps on foot.
To reach the temple, we followed a path lined with Buddhist guidance and once at the top, the views were stunning.
After lunch with a family in their ger, we headed off to see the Big Man himself.
The Statue of Chinggis Khan is 40m tall. I knew that before I got there but knowing is not the same as seeing.
This is the obvious key feature of a complex that features statues of Mongolian horsemen and Chinggis Khaan’s first wife. Her kidnapping by a rival tribe triggered the first of Khaan’s battles to forge his empire.
This monument that would rival any of the Russian epics I had seen so far was sighted here as legend says this site, by the Tuul River is where he found his golden whip.
In the base of the building that supports this statue was a display of gers and their construction over the last few thousand years and this…
I saw the remains of Stalin’s Boots in Budapest but they were nothing compared to this.
My grateful thanks to Adventure Rider Tours for a superb trip to the National Park. I’d recommend these guys to anyone planning a trip to Mongolia.
With only four days in Ulaanbaatar, I haven’t even scratched the surface. Oh well, it looks like I’ll have to come back.
Featured Photo: Does it really need a description?