Driving in Mongolia at Night

Or more to the point, driving in the countryside at night – and in our case, the Gobi.

In the headlights, everything appears the same colour so the track that you are driving on disappears into the surrounding terrain. At times you have to stop and look carefully to see where the road goes.

Driving at night in the Mongolian countryside where there is no asphalt road (which is most of the country) is really quite dangerous. I can see why most locals stop and camp for the night rather than keep pressing on.

Mind you, those yellow eyes reflecting back at you from the dark are a bit spooky too – so I guess in the Gobi I saw my first wild wolves, er, in the dark.

More tales and entries from the Gobi Trip coming up soon, along with some photographs.

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The Tale of the Four Mountains, Umnugobi Aimag

In Umnugobi Aimag, there are four mountains. King Mountain (Noyon uul), Queen Mountain (Khatan uul), Prince Mountain (Khuu uul) and a mountain named after the member of court that assists the King, his servant, and organises the King’s domain. In Mongolian this person is known as the Tushmel and so that mountain is called Tushmel uul. Noyon uul is near Noyon Soum in that Aimag. One day, a long time ago, the mountains were close. Noyon uul and Khatan uul then argued and fought. They argued so hard that Noyon uul decided to move to the east whilst Khatan uul moved to the west. As part of this argument, Khatan uul, the Queen Mountain, kicked a rock mirror at Noyon uul, the King Mountain. Noyon uul kicked a table in his anger.

So now in Noyon Soum we find Khatan uul to the north west and Noyon uul to the south east. In front of Khatan uul is a mountain range that looks like a line of soldiers, protecting the queen. Khuu uul and I are behind Noyon uul, with the table rock between them and Noyon uul.

The mirror rock that the Queen Mountain threw was of a dark polished stone, When you looked on one side of it, you could see Khatan uul reflected in it. Look in the other side and you could see Noyon uul reflected in it. It was a beautiful rock.

In 1932 the Russians came into this area and shot the Mirror Rock. No one is quite sure why, other than it was perhaps because the rock was beautiful. The result of this vandalism was that now the rock is destroyed.

Noyon uul was so named as the rocks on the top of this mountain resemble the type of cap that the old rulers of Mongolia wore. Visitors can still travel to Noyon uul, Khatan uul, Khuu uul and Tushmel uul and see the remains of the mirror rock.

Umnugobi Aimag is the southern most Aimag in Mongolia and borders with China. It is fairly easy to reach from Ulaanbaatar.