Note: I’m still behind on getting all my blog posts up, but I just wanted to let you all know that we had our Swearing-In Ceremony today in UB, so I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) now! I will be leaving for my permanent site tomorrow, which is the Health Department in Uliastai, the capital of Zavkhan aimag. I will talk more about this once I get fully caught up!
One Saturday in July all 10 of us Health PCTs and one of our LCFs went to visit Amarbayasgalant Khiid, one of the three largest monasteries in Mongolia and the most popular attraction in Selenge aimag, the large province that surrounds our tiny Darkhan-Uul aimag. It was built between 1727 and 1737, but it is still a functioning monastery (about 60 monks live there) although many of the temples and buildings have not been revived after the Soviet purges.
We left around 8am for the 3-hour drive to the monastery. About half the drive was on a paved road, but then we turned off onto a dirt road for the remainder of the trip. As always, the scenery was absolutely beautiful.
The monastery is in the Ivon Gol Valley, surrounded by the Burenkhan Mountains. There’s nothing but a tiny, tiny village around it and hundreds upon hundreds of livestock.
We wandered through the numerous temples and yards of the monastery, trying not to get lost.
We were able to go inside the main temple, where a group of monks was eating lunch, studying, and chanting.
After wandering through the monastery itself, we walked up the hills behind it to a giant Buddha statue:
And a stupa:
Which gave us great views of the monastery and the whole valley.
After seeing everything, we ate lunch, then piled back into the meeker for the long ride home. We were all exhausted, but it’s hard to sleep when you’re in a crowded van without seat belts on an insanely bumpy dirt road through the countryside. So I saved my nap for when I got home!
UPDATE: I had gotten a video from inside the main temple of the monastery but wasn’t able to upload it at the time. Now I’ve created a YouTube channel where I’ve been putting all my videos, so you can check it out here.