On The Road Updates – Rock & Roll In Ondorkhan

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On The Road Updates – Rock & Roll In Ondorkhan

Our ‘On The Road Updates’ are short little memories from some of the previous tours we have run. To set the scene for this one, we were in Ondorkhan – the provincial capital of Khentii Aimag in Mongolia’s north-east – on our Landscapes of the East experience.  Mongolia’s north-east is dominated by the history of Genghis Khan (The Secret History of the Mongols states that Genghis Khan was born in Khentii Province at the headwaters of the Onon and Kherlen rivers, near the border of modern Mongolia and Siberia. According to the legend written in the Secret History, the Mongols originated in the mountain forest when a Blue-Grey Wolf mated with a Red Doe.) In 2014 Ondorkhaan’s name was changed to Chinggis in honour of the man who came from Khentii Aimag.

Is Ondorkhan considered a highlight of Mongolia by the guidebook writers? No! But, it is a vibrant town where you can enjoy a hot shower and reconnect to the western world through WI-FI (when it’s working!). There’s also the excellent Ethnography Museum. It is housed in the 18th century home of the Tsetsen Khaan, a Mongol prince who governed most of eastern Mongolia during the Manchu reign. You can also stroll to the Kherlen River – the longest river of the eastern Daurian Steppe and the most remote source of the Amur River which drains into the Pacific Ocean. The Kherlen river starts in the alpine zone of Khentii Mountain range and runs over a distance of  1,250 kilometers through cedar-pine forests, forest steppes and the vast Eastern steppes – all regions where Chinggis Khan grew up.

The remote Baldan Bereeven Khiid Monastery. It is a tough drive to get here so don't just come for an hour. Stay a day and make the most of the tranquillity.

The remote Baldan Bereeven Khiid Monastery. It is a tough drive to get here so don’t just come for an hour. Stay a day and make the most of the tranquillity.

Anyway, the Saturday night was spent in Ondorkhan.  It might not be on everyone’s must-see list of Mongolia but it provided a room to take shelter from an ever-increasing bitter wind as well as a contrast to life out on the open steppe and city life in Ulaanbaatar. We celebrated our last night on the east tour with dinner in the ‘Och’ restaurant (a local recommendation from a delightful lady who wanted to practice her English), finishing off with a couple of hours of karaoke. The singing was abysmal (apart from Turuu who always sings well) but for a couple of hours, it was ‘rock and roll’ in Ondorkhan – finishing off with a dance on the disco floor of the restaurant (don’t worry, we were the only patrons).

We departed early in the morning for Ulaanbaatar, and although we travelled back on ‘Route One’ (also known as the Millennium Highway, this is Mongolia’s main road connecting eastern aimags to UB and those in the west) we saw more birds of prey than we did vehicles.

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I’m Jess Brooks. I am the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia - a registered Mongolian business and social travel enterprise that focuses on providing travellers with a real 21st Century insight into Mongolia. I have been based in Mongolia since 2006 and together with my beloved Mongolian team, we focus on tourism that makes a positive difference. I'm also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society - awarded for my work in Mongolia and a published guidebook author - having worked together with World Adventure Guides to produce a digital interactive guide to Mongolia. http://www.jessbrooks.co.uk/
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