On the Weekend: Khuvsgul Lake

The Mongol Messenger
2017-08-14 07:56:01
Let me ask you a frank question: Would you be bothered to sit in the car where you are cruising along the strenuous rocky roads of the countryside, the barbaric Mongolian music splitting from the sides, just to see a lake which happens to border Russia? It’s rather a crazy proposition but, it’s alright I lived through it, so you won’t have to experience it.

Our destination was Khuvsgul Lake which is located in the northwest near the Russian border at the base level of the eastern Sayan Mountains. It’s 1 645 metres long and 262 metres deep. It’s known to be the second freshwater lake in Asia, and it has 70 percent of Mongolian’s fresh water. It is said to have an abundance of medical remedies in forms of water plants, shrubs and all kinds of plankton. Certainly a phenomenon out of a high fantasy novel.

If I were, to sum up, the trip in one word, “crazy” would be an understatement. It is rather a mixed-mashed of random moments which has been strung together turned into one monstrous screwball of an adventure. Our trip started on a Friday evening after much compromising between times, we decided to head out around 6pm. In between moments of the beautiful rural landscapes and the sporadic appearances of mountain goats and sheep, there was this bizarre moment which I will never forget—we stopped at railway station where an authoritative voice cautioned us on the upcoming entropy (If I remember the exact words, it was, “Anhaaraarai, Galt teregnii hudulguunuus bolgoomjlooroi”.) However, this ‘entropy’ was this one wagon trailer wheeling across in harmless pace. I laughed for a good five minutes as it was the most non-threatening looking train I’ve ever seen in my whole life.

First stop was Darkhan, one of the many existing cities in the north and we met Erka’s delightful grandmother--- I had a feeling, even though she might not speak a word of English, she just seemed to understand us. Her warm, friendly eyes and jolly smile instantly lit up the room and made us feel welcome. There was a homely quality to the place as it added to the overall charm to the household--(i.e. the dried chillies on the door which supposedly fends of spirits and ghosts.)

The next day we went for another 800 km to the north towards Khuvsgul and a small town where Erika's friend, Dokha lives. We picked her up, and before you know it, we were settling on the banks of Khuvsgul, inside a “ger.”—which is a traditional nomadic tent. We rested that night with alcohol and off-beat banter—finishing off the night gazing at the stars.

After that morning, we set off on a high-speed boat to the wish rocks—it was rather an experience, overlooking the clear waters into Russian borders. Khuvsgul Lake was stunning—they weren’t joking when they said it is the 2nd clearest lake in Asia.  The lake as if I was looking at a glass bottom aquarium where you can see in great detail of the algae and the fish. It was rather a tricky situation when it comes to climbing up —as it was a rocky yet rugged surface. I had to actively look for something to grip on and be cautious of my surroundings, so I didn’t slip, fell and broke my back.

However, there was a major setback when going back to Ulaanbaatar due to the dire consequences of reckless driving, there was something wrong with the engine on the car. We were stuck in the small town for 4 hrs, trying to get the engine running as soon as possible. Katherine and I came to a conclusion that the small town was actually quite peculiar in a sense, as a pass-by town seem to be strategically placed as if it knew that many cars have a mechanical breakdown.

After this annoying hindrance, we decided to stay another night at Khuvsgul Lake and stayed in a “ger” for another night with a bigbowl ramen, enjoying the lake in its entirety. Sending our last farewells to Khuvsgul, we sped into the crimson sunset towards Ulaanbaatar.

By Jenny Hu
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