Gobi: lazy afternoon – treading barkhan dune.

Cайн уу folks!

Herewith, another installment from the one and only Gobi Desert, southern Mongolia (btw, did you know it also stretches into northern China?). Flat, vast, middle-of-nowhere, bewitchingly beautiful, in places – marvelously magical. Steppe, mountains, valleys, dunes… and barkhans. What, Hans?! Barkhans! These are a particular type of dune – crescent-shaped ones. Here they are – the magnificent Moltsog dunes.

And you thought sand dunes came and went depending on how windy it is on this or that day? Well, at least these barkhan dunes here are semi-permanent – due to the wind being similarly semi-permanent here.

The wind is permanent in and of itself – but so too is its direction, so the curves always face the same way. Here’s a closer pic from Yandex (Google Maps’ version isn’t as good):

You can have a ride on the nomads’ camels here. Now, anyone who’s come into close contact with camels will know that they can be rather unpredictable and prone to mood swings. And we mere humans are rarely given any understandable signals as to which way a mood may be swinging – especially when you’re sat on the back of one between its two humps!

I mean – is this a frown, or a grin?

Those sticks through the nose don’t look to be too humane…

I don’t know about you, but they don’t look too friendly. In fact, I think we’ll pass; let’s use our own two feet for our inspection of the dunes.

Only joking. Though a camel can look like… a bulldog chewing a wasp, the camel is the ideal mode of transportation across a desert – slow, steady, comfortable, experienced, doesn’t get stuck in the sand… The only thing you have to remember is to sway with the camel as it waddles along – not against it.

Off we go!

Have you heard the one about it costing 100 dirham to mount a camel, 100 US dollars to get off one?! Well, it’s not just a legend – it’s still true, to a certain extent. If you’ve ever tried a ‘camel for tourist, yes, welcome, not expensive’ before, you’ll know what I mean. If not – don’t let that scare you off: camel riding is a must-do, unforgettable experience for everyone. I guarantee it!

But unmount we did eventually, said thank-you to our guides, off with our shoes – and away we strolled upon the barkhans barefoot…

(photo: S.Z.)

Lawrence of Arabia – eat your heart out!

Oh my Gobi!

Woah – a nano-barkhan! No doubt this startup found itself an investor and decided to go it alone:

Simply some photos I liked:

Endless Gobi:

And the sand underfoot – not hot, and not cold either. Just very comfortable; perfect, in fact. I wanted to lie down in it. The nomadic life out here seemed rather appealing… – then I remembered: I’ve been leading a nomadic life myself for several years already ).

The barkhans do move about a bit with slight changes in the wind, but some stay put for ages – as evidenced by these here shoots taking root (in sand?!!)

One word: respect! ->

And that was that folks – Gobi barkhan dunes: fully inspected and respected!

All the pics from Mongolia and the Gobi Desert are here.

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