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Erdenet + Bulgan - flowers

Wednesday 22nd June

Up before 7am, I walked down to the little stream below the camp, only to find it was full of garbage. I wandered upstream to the "real" working ger camp, but was barked off by the dogs. Breakfast was bread with omelette and a little sausage — fairly typical tourist camp food, we were to discover.

a Mongolian grasshopper
We got away at 9.15am, with Patti randomly distributing us across the vans. There was plenty of entertainment spotting eagles, a hoopoe, pallid harriers, and lots of squirrels. And a toilet stop in a little pass gave us the chance for a closeup look at the rocks, flowers, and insects.

We stopped for petrol in Erdenet, but had no chance to see much of it (or of the world's second largest copper mine). On the way out of town someone wanted a toilet stop, so we drove around ger suburbs until we found a private house with an outside toilet. Nearby several dozen crows and black kites were congregated on something, but they flapped off as I approached, staying just out of good range of my telephoto lens.

It was mostly overcast and quite cool — I was still in shorts but wearing my fleece over my shirt. Proceeding along an unpaved bumpy road, we stopped to eat our packed lunch (from the previous night's ger camp) in a "tea place".

behind the tea place
a dilapidated toilet
(our vans and the tea house are in the background)

We stopped in Bulgan to visit a supermarket: this is a very run-down little aimag capital (I suspect it's overshadowed by the larger Erdenet). As well as the shiny but spartan supermarket and a whitegoods store across the road, there was a coop market full of little shops and some street stalls. And there were still some nicely dressed women wandering around in high heels.

horses in Bulgan (with a Mongolian saddle)
a petrol tanker

We stopped to photograph wildflowers in a little valley, just before a bridge. A Mongolian family stopped as well, to have a picnic and drink airag — and ended up posing for photographs.

unknown flower
Mongolian traditional dress: a deel
50mm, f/9.0, 1/200s, ISO 200

the finger guessing game
Two of the family played a finger-guessing game, which was accompanied by lovely singing. Chinzo then played the daughter (and won). This was one time on the trip I wished I'd had a video camera — a couple of people with digicams tried recording it on those.

Meanwhile, another family had stopped on the other side of the bridge. Their three children went gathering orange flowers but when they came back their parents must have suggested they give them to us, as they came over and gave us their huge bunches of flowers!

ger with satellite dish and wind generator
We stopped for photos at a ger with a shiny new satellite dish and wind turbine — we were to discover these (and a television) are common, at least for one ger in each encampment. As usual, we were invited inside for tea and dairy snacks.

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