"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mongolia, A Report from the Field: Puppies and Solitude

Safely down from slippery Turtle Rock, we load up in the Land Cruiser and head farther up the valley towards the Ariyabal Meditation Temple  high on the side of a mountain.

The meditation temple is in the patch of snow in the center of the photo, in the gray part of the mountain.

The meditation monastery at Terelj.

Snow covers the "road" up to the parking area.

From there on, it is all uphill.   Through the gate and then up a long concrete walk lined with Buddhist inscriptions and translations.  At the end of this walk is a gazebo, inside of which was a huge prayer wheel with--I kid you not!--a roulette wheel on top.

Spin the prayer wheel and wherever the arrow stops, that's the number of your Buddhist saying on the signs we just walked past.  Mine was 80:


Now the pathway is covered with snow, melting snow, slippery melting snow.  A suspended bridge is crossed gingerly as warmer air under the wooden slats has loosened the packed snow and a footfall in a certain way means you feet fly our from under you and, arms akimbo, your fate is in the hands of the mountain spirits.  Or maybe Buddha, but it seems to me that if Buddha gave a whit about your aching butt and bones,  he would see to it that the snow was melted away.

Yusef, the one and only.

Across the bridge, things get even dicier.   The trail is narrow and icy.   We finally arrive at the foot of the steps that lead to the temple itself, and they aren't any easier, though the snow is mostly gone from them, perhaps courtesy of this shovel.

But first, lying on a patch of dried grass, enjoying a good nap in the warm afternoon sun, is a female dog and two puppies.   All three wake up to greet us.

Tummy scratches and she's my friend for life.

Up the stairs and into the temple, where I point to a rendering of an exceptionally thin deity.   Yusef explains he ate only a certain plant, which turned his skin green.   Judging from another painting, he also didn't cut his toenails.

Looking down the valley though a window in the temple.

The green deity.   Note his rib cage.

And, look whose photo (plural, there were many) I find there.   This temple is of the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

We circle the temple itself on the outside, turning the prayer wheels, then start up again to a small building.  This journey is really treacherous.   Like the suspended bridge, the snow does not adhere to the wooden slats.   Add to that, many of the slats are either broken, rotten, or missing.

Inside the little stone structure, are these:

Bet he had a hard time finding shoes that fit.

And it was all downhill from here.   Slipping and sliding, I am glad when the two of us make it safely down the paths, though we opt to to walk in relative safety UNDER the curved bridge rather than across it.

The caretaker.

The dog and her puppies follow us far down the trail to the gate as we drive off down the valley to find lunch.

A view from the temple.   Turtle Rock is far in the distance, barely visible left of center in front of the mountains

Still there.   Not sure if they are sad to see us go, or making sure we really leave.

That's the back side of Turtle Rock.

A hidey hole way above the temple for the monk that really wants some solitude?


  1. I'm glad you survived the slippery and treacherous walk to and from the temple. The decor in the temple is certainly colorful. What was in that round, light gray vessel that sat on the ground. It looked like ashes. Maybe for burning incense?

    1. I think that's exactly what its use is.

    2. Nice work. I photographed many of the signs as I walked up the hill and incorporated many of them into some of my talks in Mongolia. I was surprised when in coming down I found sayings on the opposite side of each sign. Smiles from Hong Kong .. Cap and Patti ..

  2. You had a lot of snow which was gone when we were there a few days later. I would have never been able to negotiate the covered bridge or the steps outside of the temple which were slippery, snow-covered and had slats missing, let alone the hike to get to the temple and the steps/stairs up to it. Not only were the puppies still there when we were there, but there were more of them ... five, I think, and two mothers. I am amazed, as was Shaddy, with how colorful the inside of the temple is ... lovely. Thank you so much for showing me what I could not manage to climb to myself! Patti

  3. I could go back. Then again . I am planning to go back in March and April and May. So happy that we visited the park ourselves. Patti and Cap ..