Temple Rock

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Happy New Year!

I don’t know what it meant to my blogging pattern in 2013 but I failed to post something on the first day of the year! 😦  Perhaps I was just talking to myself in my last post for 2012, The Long Journey Ahead, when I quoted the cliche, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” because it took me a day to take the first step — the first post that is — for 2013.  Well, aside from the holiday rush having caught up with my posting schedule, I was also preparing my next photo set now that I’m about to conclude the long series on Mongolia.  And, in reviewing which Mongolia photos I have posted so far, I realized I still have this set of photos which, if I fail to post now, may never have a chance to get shared considering the  rate at which I accumulate photos.  So, here it is, a bit of a retrospect about the glorious 2012 autumn in the Mongolian countryside.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

September 2012: After 3 days of rapidly photographing Bulgan Province including the Ger Kindergartens which the team I was with was inspecting (see Kindergartens in the Middle of Nowhere); we were finally headed back to Ulaanbaatar.  But it was a weekend and Itgel, my cheerful Mongolian colleague, thought that it would be good to spend just another night in a ger camp somewhere.  We checked out several camps along the way but most of them were fully booked until we arrived at Tuv Province and found this huge sign along the highway which said “Dugan Khad”.  For almost an hour, we followed a stream on a bumpy trail which finally led us to a picturesque valley surrounded by rock-adorned mountains and splashed all over with the bright colors of autumn.  Dugan Khad.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

The name of the place, I was told, meant “temple rock”, with obvious reference to this natural  landmark, a huge granite formation roughly resembling the dome of the Mongolian traditional tent, the ger.  Also, Mongolians traditionally worship nature and apparently this rock inspires respect and adoration.  During a chat with a local, I was told that a long time ago, when wild animals were plentiful, the rock was always chosen as their final resting place.  Wild horses, mountain goats and deer, when they have reached their final days; make a pilgrimage to this rock then seek out the highest point or deepest crevasses of the rock and there, offer their last breath and surrender their earthly bodies to Mother Nature.  The tale was romantic but romance was the air they breath at Dugan Khad.

_1134Bulgan1

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

The ger camp we chose was right at the foot of temple rock where traditional gers line the shade of evergreen pines.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

We picked this ger at the edge of the camp to keep away from a group of Mongolian youth whose drunken arguments and boisterous laughter seemed to diminish the serenity we sought for. But a gallon of airag (see Spirit of the Airag) shared with tales around a wooden table helped us commune with nature.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

The road to our camp

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

The valley below us, we were told, was the site of one of Genghis Khan’s epic battles.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

In respect to Mother Nature and the souls that perished in the area, a huge ovoo (animist totem) was erected on a hill in the middle of the valley.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

A group of tourists enjoy the majestic view around the ovoo.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

A solitary horse roams in the valley

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

A majestic mountain on the other side of the valley

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Before we drove out of the place the next day, we explored the foot of the mountain and found these brightly-colored slopes.

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

Jessie T. Ponce Photography

And, as we took a final glance, we knew that we found a blissful paradise at Dugan Khad.

.

.

Author’s Note: This finally concludes the long series on Mongolia. Thank you so much for joining me in this trip.  I guess it’s time to move on to another place.  Perhaps to a huge, ultra-modern city for a change?

Advertisements