Talking about Gobi, what came to most people’s minds at first is sandy desert without any living creatures. However, in 33 different Gobi in Mongolia, sandy desert only occupies 3 percent of the whole territory. Among all sand dunes, Khongor Sand Dune is Mongolia’s largest sand dune, along which the Khongoryn River flows.
We rode camels to the foot of dune and started to climb. Many people were bare-footed when climbing. In the beginning, the dune was not so steep. When I climbed higher, it got steeper. I had to take off my hiking shoes as well because it seemed being bare-footed was less slippery. The top seamed so close, but was so hard to reach. When I got higher, I slipped 15 centimeters if I climbed 30 centimeters. I had to go zigzag instead of going straight up. However, that only helped 50 percent. I was still climbing, sliding, and climbing, sliding. There were a few times when I suddenly slid intensely. I thought that would bring me to the foot of sand dune. I almost wanted to give up but thinking that the top is almost there, I didn’t. My fellow travelers Thomas and Alexis were already gone. Every 3 minutes, I needed a break of 1 minute. And I had to use both hands and feet instead of only feet. After seemingly a century, I finally went to the top of sand dune.
When we all went to the top, sun already set. We had to go back soonest. Going down was much easier than climbing up. We just sat on the sand, put both hands on the sand as well, pushing the ground with palms. Then we found ourselves sliding quickly. Again, Thomas and Alexis disappeared. I, on the contrary, wanted to enjoy the moment of sitting on the soft sands, knowing that I couldn’t catch up with them anyway. There was wind when I was sliding down. And the dune made a sound of flute. No wonder it has the name of “Singing Dunes”.
When I finally slid down to the foot, I realized I lost Thomas and Alexis – they were nowhere to be seen. It was already dark and there was nobody here anymore. I started to panic. I didn’t even bring a phone or torch. I started to run in darkness, to where there were lights. However, the lights became farther and farther as cars and vans all started to drive people to Ger camping base. I ran to the closest light. Luckily it wasn’t moving farther and I discovered it was bonfire.
A group of 20 Mongols were having a bonfire party. I told a girl that I was lost. She didn’t speak English but it seemed she understood from my anxious expression. People started to gather around me. Two teenage girls asked me what happened in English, and one of them started to speak Chinese after knowing that I’m from China. People started to split up – adults told children what to do and then boys ran away to stop a van while girls held my arms and cheered me up. They asked me how I came here, where I lived, what the name of my travel operator was, what the telephone number of our guide was, etc. They tried everything to help me out. Having them walking by my side, I was relived, even though I was lost in the Gobi Desert.
After 20 minutes, I saw Thomas and Alexis. They were actually looking for me as well. In the meantime, the boy stopped a Russian van, people on which were willing to give us a ride to our Ger camp base. Back in the Ger, we knew Rohan’s drone was gone and our car sank when they went to look for the drone, which was why our driver couldn’t pick us up.
I could give more than enough thanks to these lovely Mongols, without whom I might have been eaten by wild animals.
Lessons learned from this experience:
1.Try to get down before sunset because it gets dark very quickly once the sun sets.
2.Always bring a torch, headlamp, mobile phone or whatever thing which makes light.
3.Remember at least one phone number of your local contacts. Again bring a phone and make sure it’s not power off. (I was stupid that I only brought the most important thing for me – camera).