To me this trip to Zavkhan was a journey of self discovery & self belief…
The treks on the trip tested my limits in terms of physical strength & stamina cos till then, the only form of “regular exercise” i’ve been doing for the past 10 yrs was the walking I got from my regular shopping sprees! So you can imagine how arduous the walk up the sand dune (aka hoover dam of mongolia!) near Khar Nuur was for me! But never for a moment did I think of giving up cos Yan was constantly goading me on & literally pulling me up the sandy slopes =D. It also helped that our superfit guide, Muno (whom i suspect, must have been thoroughly bored by the speed of our climb…heh..), always managed to remain his good-natured & understanding self, stopping every few metres to give us a breather before we continued on. His knowledge of Mongolia, playfulness & sense of humour during the walks were frequently the antidote that helped pushed us on, helping us forget the arduous climb & the sometimes frightening heights we were at during the treks! The speed of climbing & trekking at which he led us on was comfortable for us all. And this i believe was the main reason why we did not suffer from any muscle aches (yup, not even from the hoover dam climb!) after all the treks! This trip taught me first hand what i had known all along…tho’ theoretically prior to this..that the mind can overcome the body, if we let it. It led me to believe that while I may not have been all that fit, if I put my mind to something, I could actually do it, regardless. =)

Zavkhan Trip

Zavkhan Trip

This was a trip where i also tasted what first class Mongolian hospitality, neighborliness & generosity were! We were so pleasantly surprised by the ease with which the normads opened up their lives & gers to us so freely, sharing their food & drinks with us so generously, that we realized how life has grown so complicated in Singapore that we have to keep our doors so tightly shut & look upon strangers at our doors so suspiciously all the time. We have much to learn from them, or maybe it’s the simplicity of life we yearn for in this modern life as i write this email. =)

Speaking of generosity, I must also make a personal thank u note to Muno at this point in time, for his “sacrifice” during the return leg of the “hoover dam” climb back to the campsite. As it was tiring to walk on the soft sand during the return leg, we all decided to walk in the freezing cold water (very shallow, not even covering our ankles) of the lake. But as i was wearing boots, i had to go barefoot in the icy cold waters. That clearly wasn’t a smart move cos my feet became painful from the cold. Seeing this, Muno bravely insisted that i wore his sandals while he went barefooted the rest of the 3/4 way back! As a result, he stepped on some thorns from a native plant but he never complained abt it to any1 till he blurted it out unwittingly a few days later. Muno, thank u so much for your gallant act. You have no idea how grateful I was when u loaned me ur sandals & how bad I felt knowing u got hurt cos u went barefooted! He’s really the best guide I ever had from all my tours! Kudos to Muno!

Our drivers, Niamaa & Zayat did a fantastic job as our hosts as well cos they were always on the lookout for us, ever so attentive to our needs, that we feel so pampered on the trip! Zaya, our young cook, was great as well, she’s always there with a ready smile for us, and of course, hot soup in our bowls on those cold cold nights! Thank u so much for all your hospitality & kindness =)

Let’s not forget the little (mis)adventures we shared with our lovely travelmates from the same Russian van, Lily & Juliet! It was such a pleasure to be travelling with u…So many light-hearted moments shared in the van during those long roadtrips & not forgetting the pee-stops, that words will simply not do any justice to how grateful we are to have u two as our travel companions!

Our other travel companions, Siew Saw, Yian Har & little Yiren, also contributed so much to our light hearted moments during the trips. Thank u for your generosity in sharing all those yummy food u brought & all the information abt Mongolia! Yiren, the baby of the group, was the delight of the group, his laughter & antics always bringing cheer to us! Thank you =)

It was also a special trip made together by 2 good frens (Yan & I)…a journey which sealed our friendship even more & which allowed our friendship to come out stronger than before as we learnt & understood more abt each other. We saw each other in their truest elements during this trip, both the good & well…not-so-good (how not to when u see each other 24/7, 11 days in a row & when u’re cramped into a 2-men tent for 4 nites right?! hahaha…..). We enjoyed each other’s company, built on our already existing camaraderie, disagreed & irritated each other till no end yet thankfully still were able to laugh & poke fun at each other at the same time. Thank u, Yan, for making this trip with me.

This is what I would call a truly memorable trip…Thank u for all your company during the trip!! =)

May Ling