Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The debonair Davakhoo, one of the camel-handlers on the trip.

Eighty-three year-old Gonchigjav (left), currently the oldest monk at Amarbuyant, with his son-in-law and grandson.

Another view of Amarbuyant Monastery. In 1904 when the 13th Dalai Lama visited here there were about 1000 monks in residence. In 1937 the monastery was largely destroyed by the communists. The older monks were shot and the younger ones drafted into the army and sent to fight against the Germans.

Amarbuyant Monastery in Bayankhongor Province, on the edge of the Gobi Desert. From here we traveled by camel 172 miles to Ekhin Gol Oasis, near the Chinese border. There were only two wells on the way, one 51 miles south of Amarbuyant, and the other 104 miles south of Amarbuyant, at Shar Khuls Oasis, so we had to take along 60 gallons of water. We bought two sheep in Amarbuyant, which provided the food for the six of us - three camel handlers, one cook (wife of one of the camel handlers), translator, and myself. We followed the route used by the 13th Dalai Lama when he fled from Tibet to Mongolia following the British invasion of Tibet in 1904. The 13th Dalai Lama stayed at Amarbuyant Monastery for ten days.