Travel notes from Mongolia 2

My dear Readers,

Guess where I am..... In Mongolia.From Sankt Petersburg I took train to Barnaul.Then by bus, bike and hitch hiking along Chuiskii tract I reachedMongolia. Northern part of Chuiskii tract, North from Seminskkii Pass,presents ugly demonstration of new Russian capitalism - low tastechaotic developments of pensions (pansionates) and dachas. South ofSeminskii Pass is much better, almost no new developments.

However drivers with whom I hitch hiked told me that almost all animals except for ground squirrels are exterminated. At the top of Seminskii Pass it is a lot of vender's booths selling different folk stuff and lots of mumie. As one looking trustful seller told me, it is mostly Mongolian mumie. Altai mumie is almost all already collected. This Mongolian mumie smells bad. Few days later in Mongolia I found out why. I will explain it later.

Going down from Seminskii Pass I fell over the handle bar, see picture.My bike as always attract attention of local people and other travelers,such as motorcyclists, who wanted to have picture with me.

From Kosh Agach, Russia I took a jeep to Olgii, Mongolia. It was 8 people in 4 seat jeep. Border crossing was tortures. My co-riders local Kazakh people asked me why I am willingly take this torture?   In Olgii I stay in best hotel Duman for $15 and eat at best restaurant Pammukale for $5. Both Kosh Agach and Olgii are typical flat as a table dusty desert dwellings. But sunsets and sunrises are beautiful.

As you remember from my recent TN I have special interest in mumie see:

Here in Mongolia local people show me examples of local raw mumie. It is actually dried pica's poop. It contains some mumie, but very small amount. Unlike Altai, the air here is very dry. And this is probably the reason why transformation of organic material to mumie does not happened.

Some mumie can be extracted from such low quality raw material, by usual method of water extraction. However it is clear that with such small amount of mumie in raw material, final product will contain lots of impurities from dried pica's pup, which are responsible for bad smell of final product. They may be harmless, these impurities, but I definitely will not swallow such mumie.

In one week my son Daniel will came here and we will go to horse trip in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park.

1. White nights in SPB

Picture 002_1_1.jpg (56925 bytes)

2. I fell over the handle bar

Picture003_2_1.jpg (95111 bytes)

3. Altai woman wants to be photographed with me

Picture004_3_1.jpg (103926 bytes)

4. Bikers and bicyclists are brothers

Picture008_4_1.jpg (126155 bytes)

5. Sunset in Kosh Agach

Picture009_5_1.jpg (55428 bytes)

Alex Mumzhiu
Olgii, Mongolia
July 18 2008

Hello my dear readers.

My Mongolian trip is finished. My son and I have spent two days visiting my Mongolian friends, whom I knew from my previous trip in Mongolia 5 years ago. After this we took a week long horse trip along China Mongolian border. This trip was finished at the point where Mongolian, Russian and Chinese borders are meet. My son will write report, which I will re-sent to you.

I am now at the Mongolian town Ulangoom. It is 6pm. In an hour I will start to ride my bike toward Russian border, which is 120 kilometers away. I will start in the evening in order to use for riding the evening and morning hours, which are not so hot.

After crossing to Russia at Chandagayty border crossing I will go to Kyzyl, the capitol of Tuva Republics. After Kyzyl to Abakan, the capital of Khakassia Republic.

Tuva, Khakassia and Mountain Shoria are quite interesting places. They were on my back burner for decades and I am glad that eventually I am going there. I plan to spent there couple weeks

Alex Mumzhiu
Ulangoom, Mongolia
Aug 9, 6 pm

My Dear Readers,
You may take a look at pictures of our Mongolian trip
taken by my son Daniel:

You can sent your reply to him at:   or to me at:

Alex Mumzhiu
Kizil, Russia
Aug 14 2008

Last Travel Notes from Russia/Mongolia 2008

My Dear Readers,

The last notes I sent you were from Mongolia, just before crossing to Russia. The road from Ulangoom to Russian border is as strait as an arrow, take a look on the picture. There are no bushes or trees. The only shadow from burning sun was provided by my backpack. So for some rest I lay down on the road and put my head in the shadow of backpack. It was virtually no traffic on this road.

At border crossing I hitch-hiked on a tanker truck which took me to the top of Sayan ridge. And I went down on bike to the Tuva town of Chadan. Lonely Planet puts lots of warnings about knife waving Tuvian drunks. Russians also warn me many times. And worst place is Chadan, I was told. I actually was attacked two times. But as you may noticed, bad things happened to me on kind of small scale. I even got on list of shark attack survivors.

But as you remember shark attack was not serious. The same here, I was attacked two times, both times by drunk women, one old, another young. By their facial features Tuvians remind me more Siberian forest tribe people, than Mongols. These people do not have in their blood one important component, which is responsible for destroying blood alcohol. This is why they cannot control themselves, when drank. Tuva's capital Kizil is still living in old Soviet Union, at least it looks like this.

From Kyzil I rode by bus/bike to Abakan, the capital of Khakassia on Usinsky tract. Usinsky tract reminds me of the Chyiskii tract, but there are fewer villages here. The Usinskii tract crosses Sayan mountains and at the top the Ergaki park is located.

Ergaki is a world class tourist attraction. But it is still undeveloped, and ruled by bears. I spent night in this park. Bear tracks was quite close to the tents. Three bears were walking around the camp area. One
injured a tourist and was shot and killed. Two others left.  Above my tent on picture you may see "hanging stone" It is impossible to find logical explanation of how this huge stone got to the top of the mountain. A similar stone exist in Burma. It is called Golden Rock.

Everything is clear with Burma stone. It was put there by Buddha and hold by one of his hair.

From Abakan I went to Krasnoyarsk. Krasnoyarsk is a quite nice, clean city. People are dressed well, In supermarket I discovered the same exotic fruits as in best American supermarket.  So it is not only Moscow and Petersburg are OK in nowadays Russia.

From Krasnouarsk I went to Ekaterinburg on Trans Siberian Rail Road. From Ekaterinburg I went to village Azanka, where I spent 4 years from 1941 to 1945 during WWII. I was sent there with my mother as the Germans approached Leningrad. Village was located in the middle of North Ural prison camps (SevUralLag). My mother worked in prison camp as an accountant and actually all people we knew were prisoners. They were not criminals. They were Stalin's era political prisoners. When we left Azanka I was eight year old, so I have many memories of Azanka. So, coming to Azanka was quite emotional event for me. Amazingly Azanka is still the same. It is surrounded by prison camps with watch towers, see picture. Some camps are abandoned, some still working. It was most depressing thing I ever seen.  

From Azanka I went to the North Caucasus. The place where I was last year and place which I liked so much. I took a 2 day tour to Adygeya Republic, most Western of series of autonomous republics of North Caucasus. It is quite picturesque, and famous mostly because of its narrow canyon and dolmens, 5000 years old burial chambers, see picture.

Last year I stayed in Piatigorsk, only in last day I came to Kislovodsk, and found it much nicer. This time I stayed in Kislovodsk and in last day visited Esentuki. Esentuki is the best. Price of stay in this part of year is quite low $10

From Kislovodsk I went to Novorossiisk and then to Anapa. In 1964 I accidentally discovered nice place near Anapa called Utrish. It was completely undeveloped with nice snorkeling and spearfishing. I killed large cock fish there, boiled it and went to sleep on the sea shore, wrapped up in a blanket. In the morning I was woken up by the shout: "Hands up". It was against the law to sleep on the sea shore and border guard discovered me and target his Kalashnikov at my head. It was quite unnatural to hold hands up when you are laying on your side. He probably wants me to stand up and then hold my hands up. It was difficult to hold hands up and try to stand up in the same time. Border guard was quite excited and I was afraid he might shoot me if I will lower my hands in order to help myself to stand. Everything eventually finished fine. I even had a good soldier's dinner at border guards station. Utrish has become a popular resort now.

From Anapa I took bus to Port Caucasus, on the border with Ukraine. As bus stops, passengers exited bus and run toward cashier booth selling tickets to ferry to Crimea. It was repeated before customs and passport control on both sides. All passengers run even old lades with lots of baggage. Booths usually were closed and people formed line. Idea was to finish all long and complicated paperwork before the ferry will go. Bureaucrats were late and don't care of customers. Even though Russia and Ukraine are quite different now, in one thing they are quite similar. Bureaucrats still enjoy humiliating people they are supposed to serve.

In Crimea I visited Kerch, Feodosia, Yalta, and took a train to Petersburg from Sevastopol. Kerch and Feodosia are fine. Yalta which I liked so much is overdeveloped now. Lots of ugly flashy commercials and unnecessary businesses spoiled used to be nice Yalta's embankment.

Alex Mumzhiu
Sankt Petersburg
Sept 21 2008


dan.jpg (67432 bytes)

1. Daniel is digging for mumie

mongolia.jpg (60179 bytes)

2. Road from Ulangoom to Russian border in Mongolia

ergaki.jpg (77954 bytes)

3. Ergaki park with hanging stone above my tent

bear.jpg (87420 bytes)

4. Bear trace

azanka.jpg (69214 bytes)

5. Village Azanka

dolmen.jpg (97620 bytes)

6. Dolmen in Adygeya