We’re currently driving through the homeland of Chinngis Khan, Khentii Aimag on our Landscapes of the East itinerary. Today’s destination is Dadal located in the Onon Balj National Park and close to the border with Siberia.
|Khentii – the homeland of Chinng|
Having made a stop at Binder, which along with Batshireet and Dadal occupy the territories of the culturally rich and traditional Buriat communities, a minority ethnic group of Mongolia, we have now crossed the mighty Onon River. We’re roughly 80km from Dadal and we’ll be spending a few nights camping, making the most of the public shower house and feasting on home-made (but shop bought!) Buriat bread and ‘khaliartai khuushuur’ – both specialities of the Buriat community.
We spent last night camping alongside Öglögchiin Kherem (Almsgiver’s Wall) – this 3.2km wall is said to date from between the 8th to 10th centuries. Close by on what is known as the Almsgiver’s Castle, over 60 graves have been discovered – thought to be a royal graveyard. The effort of the labour required to construct the wall suggests that it was a very important site and radiocarbon dating indicates its continued use by the Mongol tribes.
As we sat around our small campfire, we were discussing those who had been before us – the Khitad and the Mongols – who had built the wall and used this area and the potential reasons as to why. The moon lit up our camp and as the hot water came to the boil and we went to prepare our last mug of tea of the day, we heard the sound of howling wolves echoing across from the opposite forested hillside.
Wolves use howling as a form of communication and maybe they were howling prior to hunting or as a pack to defend their territory. We don’t know, but sitting there under the moonlight by a 1000 year old wall we felt privileged to be there.