Let me ask you a frank question: Would you be bothered sitting in the car for 12 hours, cruising along the strenuous rocky roads of the countryside, the barbaric Mongolian music splitting from the sides, just to see a lake which happens to border Russia?
It’s a crazy proposition. It’s alright I lived through it so, you won’t have to experience it.
Our destination was Khosovgol Nuur which is located on the northwest border between Mongolia and Russia and is situated in the base level of the eastern Sayan Mountains. It’s 1 645 metres long and 262 metres deep. It’s known to the second freshwater lake in Asia, and it has 70% of Mongolian’s fresh water. There is an abundance of medical remedies in forms of water plants, shrubs and all kinds of plankton. Certainly, a phenomenon out of a high fantasy novel!
If I were, to sum up, the trip in one word, “crazy” would be an understatement. It rather a mixed-mashed of random moments which have been strung together, and turned into one monstrosity screwball of an adventure. Our trip started on a Friday evening, after much compromising between times, we decided to head out around 6pm. In between moments of the beautiful rural landscapes and the sporadic appearances of mountain goats and sheep, there was this bizarre moment in which I never forget. We stopped at a railway station where an authoritative voice cautioned us on the impending entropy (If I remember the exact words it cautioned, “Anhaararai, Gal telegenic Hodo-goo nos bolgoomjloori”.) However, this ‘entropy’ was this one wagon trailer wheeling across the rail, in a harmless pace. I laughed for a good five minutes because of how non-threatening train looked from the outsider’s perspective.
First stop was Dakhan, one of the many existing cities in the north and we met Erka’s delightful grandmother— I had a feeling even though she might not speak a word of English, She just seems to understand us. Her warm, friendly eyes and a happy smile instantly lit up the room and made us feel welcome. There was a homely quality to the place as it added to the overall charm to the household–(i.e. the dried chillies on the door which supposedly fends of spirits and ghosts.
The next day we went for another 800 km to the north towards Khovsgol towards a small town where Erika’s friend, Dokha lives. We picked her up, and before you know it, we were settling on the banks of Khovsgol, inside a “ger.”—which is a traditional nomadic tent. We rested that night with alcohol and off-beat banter—finishing off the night gazing at the stars.
After that morning, we set off on a high-speed boat to the wish rocks—it was rather an experience, overlooking the clear waters into Russian borders. Khovsgol lake was stunning—they won’t joking when they say it is the 2nd clearest lake in Asia. The lake looked as if I was on the surface of a glass aquarium, where you can see the depth of the algae and the fish. It was rather a tricky situation when it came to climbing up the Wish Rocks. My patience was increasingly vapourised when I tried looking for something to grip. It was complete Turtle Rock dejavu!
Now, getting back home was something of an arduous journey– it consisted of a major setback. Due to the dire consequences of reckless driving, there was something went wrong with the engine on the car. We were stuck in the small town for the past 4 hrs, trying to get the engine running as soon as possible. Katherine and I came to a conclusion that the small town was actually quite peculiar in a sense, as a pass-by town seem to be strategically placed as if it knew that many cars have a mechanical breakdown.
After this annoying hindrance, we decided to stay another night at Khovsgol lake and stayed in a “ger” for another night with a big bowl ramen, enjoying the lake in its entirety. As we send our last farewells to Khovsgol, we sped into the crimson sunset towards Ulaanbaatar.