From Jargalant we headed to Tariat. A really, really small town with some really, really big personalities. Our trusty Lonely Planet guide informed us that you can catch minivans or jeeps to Tariat, but what it didn’t mention is that NO ONE local does this, and that we would get extorted by the locals to take the tourist route. We found an old Russian jeep to take us around the white lake, which was gorgeous, but they ripped us off at the last minute. Pretending they couldn’t take us the whole way, and finally deciding to demand an extra $10 to take us the final 15km. It was getting dark, we had nowhere to stay, and I didn’t feel like fighting over $10, which caused a fight amongst our group of five. We finally agreed to pay it and got to the town, but again it was dark, and nothing resembled a hotel.
They took us to one hotel, but the owners only had one room for five people. There were only three beds, and no mats. We ventured out to find Tunga’s guesthouse, a foreigner’s haven with an English speaking owner. They were under construction but the charasmatic owner allowed us to stay anyway. No heat, no water, not even an outhouse since it is under construction. Just find a corner and pee. Don’t do the other thing.
The second night she moved us into her house. She and her family were visiting other folks, so they let us have free reign for the weekend. The ability of Mongolians to share their house and food without even blinking is one of the magical things about the country. We set to cooking.
The final day, while waiting for a van to take us to the next town, we climbed a dormant volcano outside of town. My camera really couldn’t capture the scope. It was pretty spectacular at the top, especially after how hard it was to scramble up the loose lava rock. It was really steep in the middle, but you can’t tell from my photos.
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