Karakorum - ancient capital of Mongolia

by Claudia Fiedler

Karakorum - Erdenzuu Temple

Karakorum - Erdenzuu Temple

To Karakorum - ancient capital of Mongolia


We got to Tsetserleg in the late afternoon. During the drive, Leonora discovered that she had left her bag which included passport, diary and train tickets to China at the ger. We went to the F airfield cafe, run by and English couple and with the help of the owner who speaks Mongolian, Leonora found another driver and car and went straight back to White Lake for another 6 hour ride. We stayed at the Bulgan hotel and migrated daily to the F airfield which had European food and pastries. We got to the town just in time for the 2 day Naadam festival.

Tsetserleg has tree lined streets and is surrounded by mountains. Its buildings are as decrepit as in any other town but it has a laid back atmosphere. We spent two days watching wrestling and archery competitions and horse races. We ate lots of Huushurs, fried mutton dumplings. Buuz, huushur, bansh, and every other mutton permutation Mongolians have come up with are the main foods I had in Mongolia.

There is not much variety in the Mongolian diet and green stuff such as vegetables and herbs are pretty much unavailable. There are a few carrots, onions and potatoes in the stores and in UB, one can buy apples, bananas, peaches and apricots. In the afternoon, Steffi and I climbed up the mountain and for 3 hours traversed through pristine forest and along the ridge line of the mountains. The views were magnificent. I was almost in tears. I could have stayed longer here and hike and ride around the area.

But the next day, we headed to Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia. We got there around 11am on a dreary and cold day. After scouting the area to find a place to stay, we ended up at the Orkhon River guesthouse where we got a room with 4 beds. There was a shower and an appalling outdoor toilet. But the girls who took care of the place were sweet and we got the room for 3000Tugrugs.

We went to the container market for lunch and stuffed ourselves on buzz and fried noodles. This town looks so desolate that it is hard to believe that this was the ancient capital of Mongolia. It is also hard to believe that there is no running water in town. Our girls had to carry the water from some kind of wagon that delivers it into town. I instantly wanted to go back to Tsetserleg. The next day, we went to Erdene Zuu Monastery which was destroyed during the communist purges in the 1930 and now awaits resurrection. The temple complex includes a museum, several gift shops and the Erdene Zuu Endeavor School.

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