FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 2006. AMARBAYASGALANT TEMPLE TO ULAAN BAATAR, MONGOLIA. Our final day of driving. My bum has been hurting since horse riding in Khovsgol Lake, making an already uncomfortable ride even more uncomfortable. The constant bumping and bouncing did not give my bum a chance to recover.
We arrived back at UB Guesthouse in the late afternoon. Bobbi was ready with our rooms and escorted us immediately to our dorm rooms. We were all ready for a shower and rest after a long, but truly wonderful journey through central and northern Mongolia.
SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 2006. ULAAN BATAAR, MONGOLIA. I did the walking tour of UB outlined in LP. The most interesting stop was the Gandantegchinlen Khiid (Gandan), the largest monastery in Mongolia (T 2,500). Within the grounds, I peeked into the Ochidara Temple and witnessed dozens of Buddhist monks performing a traditional ceremony. I did the ritual kora (pilgrim) path clockwise along the interior walls of the temple. The coolest thing was to hear and see monks, in the course of chanting prayers, blowing these massive horns that ran almost the length of the temple building (about 7 meters) and playing drums above them using hook-shaped drumsticks (Sorry, no photos were allowed inside the temples). In the main temple, called Migjid Janraisig Sum, stands a 26.5 meter high Buddhist statue consecrated by the Dalai Lama back in 1996. Made from copper and gilded with gold, the statue weighs in at a massive 20 tons. Along the walls are hundreds of images of Ayush, the Buddha of longevity, staring at the Migjid Janraisig statue. There were more Mongolians visiting the temple than foreigners.
From Gandan, I walked east to Tsagaan Tolgoi hill for a great view of the city of UB. At the top of the hill is Tasgany Ovoo, a sacred pyramid of stones from the Shamanism religion. The ovoos are repositories for local spirits. The ritual is to walk clockwise around the ovoo three times and toss an offering into the pile (another rock) while making a wish.