So as none of you knew, I went to Mongolia for about 2.5 weeks to work on some video. The trip was document a group of paleontologists and a group of high school students as they went way, way, way into the Gobi to look at famous fossil areas, learn about and raise awareness of fossil poaching, and do some science related to fossils, as well as generally learn about Mongolian culture.
I was asked to join for some reason only 6 days before I left, so it was a little hectic getting all the stuff I needed for the trip, but it worked out ok, and I was off.
Portland -> Chicago -> Seoul -> Unlaanbaatar -> Gobi
My stuff: link
Eating and charging my iPod during the 8 hour layover in Seoul: link
A badly translated sign: link
Eventually in Ulaanbaatar, we went to some dinosaur museums, and ate at a Mongolian Barbecue place, which I sort of hope was a joke by our very nice interpreter/guide guy. Next to that, was this sign: link
Soon enough we were flying to Dalanzadgad, where we met our drivers and their awesome machines: link
Over the next few days we would spend a ton of time in these trucks bouncing our way across the Gobi. They had padded roofs so when you bounced around and hit your head it was at least a bit soft. We drove some hours to a tourist place: link
Then we drove some more to another tourist place, which would be the last "civilization" we would see for a while. Along the way the terrain was quite varied: link
As was the animal life:
Anyway, after a couple days of really long drives, we get to our first camp area:
We spent several days wandering around the hills looking for fossils. And really in this place that's as easy as looking down at your feet, as you are almost always stepping on some dinosaur bone, or fish bone, or turtle shell, or something. In fact, if you don't find a whole complete bone or fossil, the scientists barely care about it because there are so many complete ones there.
In that first area we didn't really find too much remarkable stuff, because so many people had been there before and if they weren't scientists, they were poachers, and the poachers tend to trash everything. The poachers are looking for skulls to sell to rich people as well as claws to sell to people who believe they have medicinal qualities.
Eventually we moved on to our second tent camp: link
In this area were some really good areas to see fossils of some large dinosaurs, and again it was just impossible to not step on fossils walking around. (In most of the fossil pictures you will notice my multi-tool thing to give a sense of scale.)
And most interesting to me was this claw: link
If you look at the claw, you will see a smaller claw resting on the larger one. The smaller one is from a dinosaur about the same size as a Tyranosaurus (that is to say, a fairly large dinosaur). The larger claw on the other hand, is obviously much, much, much larger. The dinosaur that it came from is pretty strange and not extremely well known, called a Therizinosaur, and is somewhat sloth-like.
According to the scientists, it was an extremely productive trip, and they always noted that you find something really great just as you leave. In our case it was a full skeleton (minus the poached skull):
This dinosaur would have been about the size of a large dog.
Eventually it was time to go back to Ulaanbaatar and home, which took about 4 days. Along the way we had some vehicle trouble, sand and wind.
If you have made it this far, you are welcome to look at some more pictures: link
And perhaps more interesting, some audio I recorded along the way. link
An interesting thing worth mentioning is that I wanted to record lots more, but it is so amazingly quiet there. It is by far the quietest place I've ever been, no flowing rivers, no planes, and once the wind dies down at night, and the generators turn off, it is unexplainably quiet.
Has anyone else been to Mongolia?
Thanks for reading.
Here is the audio from a concert of traditional Mongolian Music, it was going on while we had dinner, so there is some background dinner sounds:
Long Song: link
Long Song 2: link
Throat Singing: link
Dance with Cups: link
Short Song: link
Horse Song: link
Contortion Song: link
Hammer Dulcimer Song: link
Mountain Song: link
Buy our CDs: link
Here are two songs by some really nice guy at a tourist camp we stayed at for a night, recorded on a porch with some light rain outside:
And finally a song of a different nice guy playing the traditional 2-string fiddle at the same place: link
For you GPS nerds, here's most of my waypoints in handy Google Earth format I think: