- The yearly journey to Ondurshil, in the Gobi
- Desert, from Mongolia's capital, Ulanbaataar
Rinpoche, the Director and some of the staff of the Centre (Asral NGO) left this morning for Ondurschill after much preparation. Unfortunately, been unwell, I am unable to travel, and so remain behind in the quietness of the Centre. Children still playing outside, cool but very sunny, although wind and rain forecast in the next day or so. Rain always welcome here.
There is great energy around Rinpoche, everywhere he goes. The preparations this morning and last night were extensive, the drivers, cars, food for the journey, bedding, warm clothes, medicines, hot water bottles, cutlery and containers, camera and phone. The road is good until you get to Choer, about four hours south of Ulaanbaatar City, where we normally stop for lunch.
Choer looks like the last outpost of the Soviet regime, huge, empty 70s style block like buildings standing surreally in the middle of nowhere; the leftover of a Soviet military installation. The road finishes and then it's onto the rough undulating tracks, where the jeep begins to feel like you are in a washing machine cycle, on and on through the desert for hours and hours.
Eventually you see Ondurschill in the distance, and it feels a bit like you're a cowboy riding into town in a Western, into another century, except it is the twenty-first century. What you see is a derelict ex commune, set up by the former Communist Government, which took herders away from a nomadic tradition that had been there for generations, to service an industrial type wool factory. A manufactured community, which was fine as long as the Soviets were supporting it, bringing full employment, education, health care and schools for the best part of a century. It wasn't sustainable unfortunately, as it was
MIM (Made In Mongolia) website: