3 years ago
Monday, August 31, 2009
Celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary in Mongolia
OUR 40TH ANNIVERSARY DAY
We knew our 40th anniversary was coming up, but we’ve been so busy we haven’t really had time to think much about what we could do to celebrate our anniversary. Chintuya said one of the other couples celebrated their 40th anniversary while they were here and the husband gave the wife 40 red roses. Don’t get me wrong, I love roses, but on Friday, one of the members of our branch at Khailaast Branch dropped by our DIC office. He told us that he works for a tour company as a tour guide and sometimes does his own tours. He told us about a day tour to the Terelj National Park located 42 km from Ulaanbaatar. After he left, we thought about it and decided that since it was going to be our 40th anniversary, since we didn’t have to do humanitarian work that day, since the weather was going to be perfect, and since Richard didn’t know where in Mongolia to find 40 roses, we decided to go on an anniversary retreat instead.
We left at 9:30 a.m. and outside of our apartment, wemet our tour guide and his driver Socx. After a maze of cars, busses, and pedestrians, we found ourselves in the beautiful Mongolian countryside—miles and miles of grazing land, animals, and gers.
Our first stop was an extra special trip to visit a gigantic stainless steel statue of Chinggis Xhaan astride his horse. It’s the largest statue of a man on horseback in the world. The developers are planning a golf course, gers with wireless Internet, convention center, etc. to be done by the summer of 2010. Even though there were many heroes in Mongolia’s history, this statue shows what a strong hold Chinggis Khaan has on the hearts of the Mongolian people. The inside of the base of the statue looks like a palace and the basement houses a luxurious convention/reception area.
Down the road from the statue, our driver Sox spotted a man on a bicycle carrying two eagles. In Mongolia, eagles are used especially in the winter to help hunt small game and this man had trained these two beautiful eagles to hunt, but was probably looking for a way to make a little extra money with them. Richard excitedly hopped out of the van to see if he could take a picture of the man, but was even more excited when the man offered for one thousand tugs to let Richard actually hold one of the eagles. The man put a leather guard around Richard’s arm and then showed Richard how to pick up one of the eagles. He then showed Richard how to raise and lower his arm so the eagle would spread its wings. So, as the eagle spread its wings, we snapped pictures and took video. It was an amazing thrill—an experience Richard will never forget.
Our next stop was in the Gorkhi – National Park where we each mounted a two-humped camel for a memorable ride. It felt a little like a small roller coaster when the camel stood up and lay back down again, but it was much easier and less scary than I thought it would be. However, after our ride, Richard thought he would have me take a picture of him standing next to the camel he had ridden. As he approached the camel, the camel snarled at him. Richard was a bit startled, but stood his ground and the camel settled down as I took the picture Richard wanted.
From there we traveled on to Turtle Rock. We think it is well named. It’s a weathered granite formation that definitely looks like a turtle. We scaled the backside of the huge turble, slid through a hole in the rock, and came out on the face of the turtle for a super view of the sightseers, horseback riders, and gers below. After Richard got stuck many years ago in Squish Rock on a hill above St. George, I was surprised he was willing to squeeze through the tight opening in order to go see the view, but he did, and it was worth it.
From there, we rode on a bumpy road to the base of Buddhist monastery perched high on a hill. We started the climb, which included crossing a bridge over a ravine. It was a little rickety and only allowed four people to cross as a time. We continued climbing to Meditation Monastery, which is one of the few remaining Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia. Jenger told us it is a medical monastery and every step we climbed was supposed to bless one part of our body. The only problem was, I was really exhausted by the time we climbed half way up, so I hoped a blessing on my heart was included on one the steps we had already passed. It was a beautiful monastery and worth the climb and the view from its balcony was spectacular.
From there we drove to an authentic ger where we ate a delicious lunch and rode Mongolian horses for about an hour through beautiful trees and across several rivers. After that we visited a cave where 100 Buddhist monks hid.
What a thrill. We enjoyed the day learning about Mongolia and its culture, and learning more about our guides. The driver is a first counselor in the new stake and the tour guide is the new stake’s Young Men’s President. They are great men and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with them. They are really nice Mongolian men; talking, laughing, and learning from them was lots of fun.