Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday outing to Terelj

This past Sunday my friend Saruul organized a small outing to Princess Temple (Гүнжийн хийд) in Terelj Park an hour or so east of Ulaanbaatar.

The temple itself is situated on a hillside at a valley's end:
View from the climb with Turtle Rock off in the middle distance

I didn't manage to snap a good shot from the bottom of the hill, but one can get a sense of the site here:
View of the main temple from the teacher's grotto

Entrance to the swaying, creaking bridge across a ravine that separated the path from the main temple.

Inside the temple it was lovely and bright, late summer sunlight streaming in to play on the brilliant colors of the woodwork and icons.  The picture below doesn't do the place justice, particularly in how crowded the temple was with worshippers and pilgrims:

Main altar
People were leaving offerings of money in various deposits around the temple and the line of penitents through the building ended in a bell:

Saruul rings the bell for good luck, or perhaps to ward off negative influences?

Roof of the main temple

Details of the temple's exterior: both Mongolian Buddhist iconography and scenes of pastoral daily life
Then it was time to head back down to the Tuul River for our al fresco luncheon:
The road to Terelj: there and back again

In addition to lovely countryside, we saw numerous herds representing the таван хошуу мал or five snouted animals of Mongolia: horses, sheep, goats, camels, cattle, and yak.  You count six and you would not be wrong.  The official number is five and I've usually seen cattle and yak lumped into one group.  But for many Americans, the yak may be the most exotic of the bunch:

Yakkity-yak, don't talk back turn your back to the camera!

We wended our way down to the broad valley of the Tuul River, which branches and meanders through stands of willows and various fruit-bearing trees:

The view from our lunch spot

As we'd picked a popular spot, we decided to ford the swift, icy Tuul to have a whole bank to ourselves:

Colder, deeper, and faster than it looks
Our provisions and shoes around our necks, we waded to our lunch spot and our kind hosts started up the grill to prepare some delicious Korean BBQ:

Saruul's brother sets up the grill

Saruul's home-made mantuun buuz, party food for every occasion!

Sibling chefs cook up the meat like experts
1.  Fry up some pork
2.  Roll it in a lettuce leaf
3.  Stuff some rice inside the roll
4.  Enjoy!
Picking moil berries (bird cherry) till the cows come home
Fruits of their labor: moil up close
Time to cross the Tuul once more
Vanessa: the reigning rock-skipping champion

As the sun began to sink in the sky, the afternoon was well over and it was time to leave the glorious Mongolian countryside for the hustle and bustle of Ulaanbaatar. 

Willow trees make for the best shade
All in all, a delightful day!

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