The Gobi – Day Three (part 1)

As promised, day three of our journey.  Colin and I rose early in the morning so that we could see the sun rise and shine onto the Flaming Cliffs.  As you saw earlier, we were also treated with our first encounter with some Gobi camels before dawn.  Jen, who always loves to sleep in, was even keen enough to get up and see what was going on.

Our ger was some distance from the nearest parts of the Flaming Cliffs, so Colin and I hiked about a kilometer to actually be at the cliffs when the sun rose.  The timing was perfect.  As we arrived, the sun broke the horizon and shone onto the cliffs, producing magnificent hues of red and orange.

Gobi Day 3 - Flaming Cliffs 1

The Flaming Cliffs in the morning sunlight.

After wandering around the area for twenty or thirty minutes, we made the trek back to our ger to have some breakfast and get ready for setting off on another day’s journey.  Packing up was usually quite an ordeal and took a significant amount of effort and time.  With six of us in the van and each of us packing a large 60L backpack (or something bigger!), in addition to having various smaller packs/purses/camera bags/etc. with us, we all had a LOT of stuff.  In fact, we all felt rather embarrassed when we entered our first ger on the first night and started unloading all of our things.  It really put things into perspective when we realized that for eight days, we had packed more stuff than some families had in their entire homes.  We literally exploded our packs and took over all available space.  Our lives really are cluttered with a lot of “stuff”, much of it that we don’t really need.

Now, social commentary aside, we can return to the morning’s events.  We drove from our ger not to the place where Colin and I hiked to, but to a much larger site and that had more extensive cliff formations.  None of us really looked very hard, but there are apparently still lots of fossils to be found in the area.

Gobi Day 3 - Flaming Cliffs Ovoo

Ovoo’s, which Jen posted about earlier, are scattered
about everywhere throughout the Gobi.  In the vast
emptiness of the Gobi, they sometimes seemed more
common than the nomads who populated the area.

Gobi Day 3 - Flaming Cliffs (Looking Out)

Gurjit, Jen, and Megan sitting down for a break
and just enjoying the view.

Once we had arrived at this site, the sun had risen well into the sky and so the colours were not nearly as vibrant.  I wonder how it would have looked if we had seen these cliffs in the morning sun.  Still, the area was an interesting place to explore and provided plenty of great perspectives to take in the surrounding landscapes.

Gobi Day 3 - Flaming Cliffs (Geology)

Not knowing much about rocks, minerals, or other
such geologically minded things, I’m not sure what
this is made from, but the cliffs were very soft and they
crumbled easily.  I was amazed that they hadn’t been
blown away by the wind and that there were such
interesting formations as this one.

Although there were plenty of great landscapes to see in the Gobi, I wouldn’t say that it boasts some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.  The most interesting thing for me was the sheer emptiness of it all.  There was nothing there.  No people.  No “civilization”.  No fences.  No roads (some dirt tracks left by other vehicles travelling through as well).  No buildings.  Nothing.  Just a few nomads who pass through and then pick up and leave the emptiness as they found it, clearing out may be a bit of the grass as their sheep, goats, or cows grazed.  It is hard to describe, but it was truly awesome.

That, and the sheer variety of landscapes was truly amazing too.  It’s not a stereotypical desert that has only sand dunes.  There were flat grasslands, vast mountain ranges, towering sand dunes, and undulating hills, with each one giving way to the next in the blink of an eye.  It was as if there was some unseen line drawn in the earth that had one side as a grassland and the other with snow-capped mountains.  All the variety meant that there was always new stuff to see and the time spent riding in the van passed easily.  Riding six to eight hours a day in a van wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  In fact, I actually began to enjoy the time.

Gobi Day 3 - Vast Empty SpaceJust one example of just how much open space there
was and the sheer emptiness of it all.


~ by dawseng on November 23, 2008.

4 Responses to “The Gobi – Day Three (part 1)”

  1. Jeff – you should become a travel writer! I’m ready to sit in a van for eight hours …
    ps. there is certainly truth in your social commentary.

  2. Maja, I’d love to travel and write for a living! Wouldn’t that be a dream?

    We talk a lot about the acquisition of stuff, especially as we’ve moved around a fair bit lately – certainly not as much as the nomads, but the moving really helps us to keep our clutter to a minimum because we’re always thinking about what we really need and if we’ll be able to take it with us once we pick up and move again the next time. We’re afraid of what’s going to happen when we settle down and have a huge house (and all houses seem huge after living in our tiny apartment in Seoul)!!

  3. I think the bottom picture is my favorite and I love the new banner.


    P.S. You two rock

  4. […] exploring the Flaming Cliffs, we packed back into the van (a la Little Miss Sunshine!!) and headed off for our next destination. […]

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