WORDS OF INTRODUCTION FOR AN ACCOUNT OF
A 17000 KM. BICYCLE JOURNEY ACROSS MONGOLIA’S
VASTNESS, MAGNIFICENCE & SIMPLICITY
Riding a bicycle 10 to 15 hours a day, climbing hundreds of lofty passes;
in the Altaï and Hanghaï mountains where I was lucky enough to enter into the secret world of nature whose artistic alchemy, some days, at dawn, or late at night, was preparing its palette, by tingeing the raw light according to its seasonal mood, mixing warm or cold the colour’s hues and shades;
across the entire Gobi, from east to west, where in this endless dried up sea of the Tertiary period, the wind’s millennial breath abrades and wears away everything; where thru sand storms and sidereal lights I had the impression it was snowing dust from ruins of other worlds, just as the cosmos dismisses dust from dead planets; dusts of all kinds, from extinct civilizations and from constellation’s fallen stars; not just dust but also beauty made out of quartz, mica, and feldspar carried by caravan of wind, whose oceanic range was probably peddling its precious cargo all along the silk road and as far as Antioch near by the mediterranean sea;
along the Altan, the Bor Hyarin and Mongol Els deserts where, oscillating across of an ocean of sand, whose swell was unfolding interminable waves, other caravans, those of the nomads, were continuing their thousand year journey through time and space;
across the endless Tartary of the east, the Menen steppes and the huge barren plains of Dzungaria, the same ones the great Khans with their armies crossed over the centuries, relentlessly forth and back, riding on their 100.000 horses and where died, worn-out, 100.000 of their camels; where today no human being, no life is passing by, just the years, falling as autumn leaves, flying by with the time;
meeting with the spectre of desolation, the nomads’ despair and the animals’ hunger and death; experiencing with the snow, the summer scorching suns, the blizzard bitter cold, the sand and the windstorms of the spring, likewise the gentle breeze of the autumns or the summer rains of the North that were quenching my thirst;
on the steppes, on rocky or sandy trails, along the 1000 years old paths of the caravans finally, after some seventeen thousand kilometers, I had reached, in the depth of my soul, the shore of an ocean filled with light.
I had met with the mongol nomads enjoying their warm hospitality, the peaceful muslim world of the Kazakh and their eagle hunters, and amongst other ethnic minorities, the blue eyed Zakchen of the Bort valley, the proud Uriankhaï on the roof of the Altaï, the Hoton, the Baïd, the Sartul, the Uuld, the Torgut, the Durvuut, all clans and tribes that had migrated forth and back from Siberia, Persia and Central Asia to settle in the western territories of Mongolia; the Uzemchin of the South, the Buriat, the Dharkaat from the siberian forests, and deep in the Taïga territories, the shamanism world of the Dhuka tribe and their reindeers. Daily I had met with the wildlife, seeing the wolves, the gazelles, the antelopes, the vultures, the golden eagles, and was feasting with the fishes I was catching in the rivers and lakes.
Every night, sleeping under the stars, near by a river, a stream, a lake or close to a well, just like during the days, I travelled far, deep into my mind, into this huge space where the light, as I was moving further away from civilization, was becoming purer day after day; as pure as the one that enlightened the gigantic steppes. I had lost touch with the society, its laws and rules, its noise and pollution. I had crossed over the border that separates civilization and nature and had become a simple human being living in space ! In space where time had disappeared.
I was then a man without name, ignoring my age, my suffering and my pains. I was living in total freedom; I had found the liberty and therefore happiness.
After being for so long a solitary traveller, living the simple life of the nomads, I came back to the society where I was born, to which I belonged. There I heard strange words like performance, like achievement, like record. Although my mind was still far away, wandering in the wilderness and the nowhere land of Mongolia, I realized I had come back to the civilization, into the society where everything is measured, timed and registered, so that it can be compared with what others did. Slowly emerging from my delicious unconsciousness I became aware I was losing my liberty; the one that truly exists, but only in open space, where there is no limit, no horizon, where the time has never entered, where there is only light. I had lost touch with the world that had taken me so many years to discover; a world, I presume, that had remained as it was at its origin. As the day disappeared into the other side of the earth, the light, the one that purified my soul and my heart, turned to a sad grey into my eyes.
Readers of this website, cyclists, runners or simple travellers who take interest into the Great Land of Mongolia, I simply want to express thru my mind journey rather than the physical one, that an other world still exists, an original one, our reference from which, century after century, and for thousand of years, human beings have drawn life from it, and lived in harmony with nature, a simple life and happily.
After years of search, I had discovered the raw material of life in a world which remains as it was when mankind’s clock first started to turn.
So it is my pleasure to offer you a glimpse, a glance, an image, an impression of what might become the reality of your own dreams should you wish to discover Mongolia and should you wish to encounter a unique way of life. Also, perhaps, to understand more about yourself whenever you find the courage, be it in the midst of a desert or on the summit of a mountain, to uncover your real, sincere inner self.
I wish you a wonderful journey to the sources of your origin.
Marc Progin – 1999 – 2014 – anywhere in the land of Mongolia.