A few days ago, we had the opportunity to visit Terelj National Park a few miles outside of Ulaanbaatar where we live. We actually went with a tour guide. It seems I have been asked to serve as the first counselor in the district Young Men's Presidency and the new Young Men's President (Jangaar) works for a tour company. It was a very enjoyable trip.
As you can see, the landscape is a bit different than the barren rolling hills we see in Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding countryside. We found ourselves in a very peaceful area much like parts of northern Utah.
This is the border of the park. The river is the Tuul River (or Gol in Mongolian). It was wonderful to see this beautiful and peaceful valley as we drove up over the crest of a hill. The little village is a resort area with cabins and hotel rooms for tourists to stay in. You can click on any of these pictures to see a larger version.
We drove down the hill and crossed that river on this old wooden bridge. It was a bit rickety and we drove very slowly! There is a new modern bridge being built to the left of this one (you can see it if you look closely at the wide shot in the first picture). We will be glad when it is done!
People in this area have used several beasts of burden to transport people and equipment over the centuries. Elephants were even tried but it was too cold. They have some of the few truly wild horse herds left in the world here in Mongolia. In addition to those horses (which, by the way, are a bit smaller than the ones we are accustomed to in the U.S.) they also use camels.
And one of our first stops inside the park, was the one captured in this video. I've been waiting for nearly nine months to ride a camel and finally had my chance! Sister Caldwell was wearing a dress and wasn't able to give it a try. However, I'm sure she would have had she been in pants! Ya, right!
The video was taken by Jangaar, our guide and the rather screechy kind of sounds you can hear are not bad video but are made by the camel. It really is a lot like riding a horse -- except for the beginning part and the end part! Those long legged camels would be difficult to mount and dismount if they weren't so accommodating as they squat on the ground for us! But that also tends to be the wildest part of the ride!
Then, on we went! We passed a place where were demonstrated some of Mongolia's traditional homes. That's right, MONGOLIAN traditional structures. Look familiar? There are those here who are very adamant that the Mongolians are descendant from the American Indian - i.e. the Lamanites. And, in deed, some of their songs sound VERY much like old indian chants and one of their native costumes looks exactly like American Indian dress. We'll try to post some of those specific costumes and chants in the near future.
Lamanite/Nephite recorded history ends in 400 A.D. That would give them about 700 years to travel north, make the connection to Asia and become established before Chenggis Khan appeared on the scene. Seems plausible, doesn't it?!
We recently had an American Lamanite missionary return home after serving very well here for two years. But he was always mistaken for a native Mongolian - by Americans and Mongolians alike. Elder Totachenie was his name and he had quite a bit of fun with his often mistaken heritage.
A bit further down the road, we came to a place called Turtle Rock - for obvious reasons! Located in a rather large boxed canyon, the area has been home to Mongolians for years. There are several ger camps here,now, in which tourists may spend a night or two in traditional Mongolian style.
Next time: the conclusion to our visit with history.