It is always exciting to wake up in a place after you arrived in the dark, and we are curious to explore the city of Mörön on a sunny September morning. According to our information, the ride from Erdenet to Mörön on a shared taxi should take between 10 and 15 hours, so we were very surprised to arrive the previous evening after only four hours and a half - including a stopover for dinner. We managed to convince the driver to drop us off at a guesthouse, well hidden behind a wooden fence - a place we would have never found ourselves as it was pitch dark. Now, we leave our ger, and walk a dusty street. Wooden fences protect the gers inside the private properties, but we also see red roofs of houses. When we reach one of the main streets, we turn right, and walk to the end of town. After passing the last street, we find ourselves close to the feet of an empty landscape of mountains. In the distance, we see the road towards Khatgal which we will take the next day.
We walk down the next main street, stop at a shop to buy some food items, and walk further down. We see lots of gers and wooden houses; the streets are quiet until we come closer to downtown Mörön. More and more, we notice small parks for kids to play in, often made with recycled materials and painted in bright colours. After lunch (a vegetarian soup which contains mostly meat), we reach the wrestler stadium, with some impressive statues of Mongolian heroes as well as wrestlers in front of it. Wrestling is a great sport in Mongolia. We walk back through town, towards the west side, where we find still more parks and playgrounds for kids. We also come across Town Square, with a statue of Chingünjav, of course sitting on a prancing horse: an 18th century independence fighter for Mongolia in the Ming period. On the eastern side of the square; a statue of Sodnomyn Damdinbazar, a Buddhist incarnation who played an important role in the independence of Mongolia in the early 20th century. From here, a short walk further west takes us to yet another park and the Danzandarjaa Khiid with several temples and stupas. The setting sun makes the silhouet of one of the Buddhas a venerable silhouet.
The next day, we start by going to the market of Mörön, to find out about shared taxis going to Khatgal. It turns out to be a little more difficult than we thought, and it gives us a good excuse to explore the market area which is much bigger than we had imagined. There is so much to see here. A handicapped man sitting on the street side with a stack of sheep skin on a wooden stool. The skins still have the legs of the sheep on them, and some still have excrement and blood. There are quite a few Mongolians in their traditional dress: a long coat with a broad ribbon in a different colour - they look very warm (much needed in this semi-arctic climate). There is not much in the way of fresh food at the market: it is more about mechanical items, ironware, utensils, canned food, and many more items. Some stalls are in containers, some are on outside tables, or in the back of a van. The chaotic appearance makes the market a great place for us to wander around. Then, someone who speaks some English takes us to an open space we have been before, where we find a few minivans that were not there before: they will go to Khatgal later in the afternoon. Instead of going to the local museum, we now like the market area so much we continue to walk around, chat with some school girls, try our few Mongolian words on older people, and thus while away time until we go get our bags. Still then, we watch Mongolians playing snooker Mongolian style at outside tables, and when we finally leave, we realize that we have ended up liking this town much more than we anticipated.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mörön (Mongolia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Mörön. Read more about this site.