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Manshir/Manzushir Monastery

Wednesday 13th July

It was bright in Gabi's east-facing living room, but I went back to sleep after waking up at 6.30am. I started packing and wrote some final postcards.

Peter and I caught the trolley bus into the city centre.

advertising on Ulaanbaatar's main street
Sükhbaatar statue

Peter went to do some more shopping in the State Department Store while I had coffee and breakfast in the Chez Bernard cafe. There I got talking to a French Canadian couple who'd just been horse trekking in the area to the west of Khovsgol Lake. The husband was carrying an Olympus OM series SLR and was interested in my E1, so we discussed cameras and lenses. When Peter came to get me I left in a hurry and forgot to pay — so I owe either my companions or Chez Bernard for a coffee and a cake.

We then went back to Gabi's college, where we were picked up by Oggi and Nyimsacher. Nyimsacher was a young violinist who had won a scholarship to go to school in Italy and wanted to practice his English. His father Oggi was a popular rock musician. Oggi drove us to Manshir monastery, which is directly to the south of Ulaanbaatar but reached by a big loop through Zunmod, the capital of Töv aimag.

the old and new monasteries
a silk painting (thangka)
At Manshir there's a little museum with a fascinating collection of collages (and some stuffed animals). A little further up the hill, the rebuilt monastery sits next to the ruin of its predecessor, and on the hill behind them are some rock carvings protected by little sheds.

It's possible to walk from Manzushir to Ulaanbaatar, climbing over the mountains - Tsetseguun Uul at 2256m is the big one - and across the Bogdkhan Uul Strictly Protected Area. It takes up to ten hours, however.

Our lunch was a picnic under the trees, along with other family groups. One group of kids were throwing stones up into a pine tree; one of them then started climbing it. I got there just in time to see a pine marten [probably a sable, actually] jump out of the tree and scuttle into the rocks and bushes where no one was going to find it.

The little parking lot was crowded, and after lunch we found ourselves parked in. We tried moving a small ute without luck, but eventually got out by using the 4WD capability of Oggi's car and going off road.

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