Mörön, 7 October 2012

I like turbo-props, I find the deep roar their propellors emit is much more satisfying to listen to than the whine of jet engines. So I was looking forward to this flight from Ulaanbaatar to Mörön, capital of Mongolia’s northernmost province of Khövsgöl, in a little 36-seat turbo-prop. And it was a lovely afternoon, with a blue sky, so I expected to have good views from seat 9C at the back of the aircraft.

Good views we did indeed have as we took off from UB, climbed, banked, and set off north, with the propellers settling into their deeply comforting roar. The ugly outskirts of UB dropped out of site and we were now flying over a brown landscape of late autumn. Small rocky hills jutted out of valley bottoms, many of which had small rivers flowing lazily down their middle. Never have I seen such lazy rivers! They looped back and forth, fraying, rebraiding, leaving stranded oxbows behind. Mongolian valleys must be flat as a pan.

My wife, in seat 10C, remarked that the hills looked buried in dust. So true! It must have been a trick of the light on the yellow grasses sprinkling the land, but the hills really looked as if they were emerging from thick layers of powdery brown dust.

We picked up the Siberian larches, larix sibirica, quite soon after leaving UB. These are the southernmost tassels of the vast larch forests that cloak the Siberian taiga. They were always high on the hills and clustered on the latters’ northern, colder, side. In the late afternoon light, they cast long shadows. At first there were vestiges of their summer green showing through their autumnal yellows, but as we droned ever further north autumn caught up with us and their colours became uniformly yellow.

Soon after we were dropping into the vast bowl which Mörön finds itself in, flying over the town as we came in to land. Small houses with bright red or blue roofs and surrounded by a square of wooden fences hove into view and rushed by us.

And now we were down on the tarmac, with the plane’s propellers giving their last braking roar before we trundled to a halt before the terminal.

Tomorrow, we go to Lake Khövsgöl.

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I like writing, but I’ve spent most of my life writing about things that don’t particularly interest me. Finally, as I neared the age of 60, I decided to change that. I wanted to write about things that interested me. What really interests me is beauty. So I’ve focused this blog on beautiful things. I could be writing about a formally beautiful object in a museum. But it could also be something sitting quietly on a shelf. Or it could be just a fleeting view that's caught my eye, or a momentary splash of colour-on-colour at the turn of the road. Or it could be a piece of music I've just heard. Or a piece of poetry. Or food. And I’m sure I’ve missed things. But I’ll also write about interesting things that I hear or read about. Isn't there a beauty about things pleasing to the mind? I started just writing, but my wife quickly persuaded me to include photos. I tried it and I liked it. So my posts are now a mix of words and pictures, most of which I find on the internet. What else about me? When I first started this blog, my wife and I lived in Beijing where I was head of the regional office of the UN Agency I worked for. So at the beginning I wrote a lot about things Chinese. Then we moved to Bangkok, where again I headed up my Agency's regional office. So for a period I wrote about Thailand and South-East Asia more generally. But we had lived in Austria for many years before moving to China, and anyway we both come from Europe my wife is Italian while I'm half English, half French - so I often write about things European. Now I'm retired and we've moved back to Europe, so I suppose I will be writing a lot more about the Old Continent, interspersed with posts we have gone to visit. What else? We have two grown children, who had already left the nest when we moved to China, but they still figure from time to time in my posts. I’ll let my readers figure out more about me from reading what I've written. As these readers will discover, I really like trees. So I chose a tree - an apple tree, painted by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt - as my gravatar. And I chose Abellio as my name because he is the Celtic God of the apple tree. I hope you enjoy my posts. Klimt/big/Apple Tree I.jpg

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