The tale of Mongolia
the sand and the mongoose deadly worm

"Mongolia is one of the most isolated countries in the world, which is why it is especially interesting."

For those who have not heard, in 2006 the Mongols celebrated the 800th anniversary of the founding of their once-powerful state that stretched across China all the way to the shores of the Mediterranean. That state was once a world power, much like the United States in the world today. Ganna, a plump Mongolian woman, was waiting for us at the airport and introduced herself as our guide from the Discover Mongolia agency, which I found with the help of the internet. Ganna took us to a great hotel in the center of Ulaanbaatar. We stayed in some kind of apartment with a kitchen and living room and everyone had their own room. I immediately fell asleep, unlike Miro Mioč - Bira, who in the morning, visibly tired, confessed to me that he had been spinning in bed for a long time and his sleep did not want to be seen.

In the morning we rented an off-road vehicle, driver, and guide and went on a tour of the Gandan Buddhist temple near the capital, apparently the only one not destroyed by the communists. The capital Ulaanbaatar is reminiscent of some remote Russian town, but everything is very neat and clean. It seemed to me that the city had preserved some of that socialist charm that is slowly disappearing in Russia. By the way, the Mongols have not complained much about the Russians since they separated from the USSR, although they have a lot of reasons for that.

Mongolia is one of the most isolated countries in the world, which is why it is especially interesting. Numerous herds of camels and horses still graze on the endless steppes that border the desert dunes, and there are almost no paved roads. Mongolia still has the greatest prestige to have a dozen horses or camels, although they are increasingly being replaced by off-road cars. Off-road vehicles can be used almost everywhere because the country is slightly hilly, but navigating is very difficult for foreigners because the steppe seems the same everywhere. Our plan was to go to the very heart of the Gobi Desert which looks like some huge wave of sand behind which are even bigger waves on a rough sea of ​​sand.

Before arriving in the Gobi Desert, I heard a somewhat amazing story about a mysterious and dangerous worm lurking its victims buried in the desert sand. According to the descriptions of local nomads, this thick red worm, Allghoi khorkhoi, is 20 to 40 centimeters long and kills by spraying a deadly poison or electric shocks at a distance of up to 2 meters. Allghoi khorkhoi in Mongolian means "worm of the womb" and is very often associated with the cow's womb. It is better known in the world as the "mongoose deadly worm”. Reportedly, the worm emerges from the sand half its length before attacking and inflates until it expels venom at high speed. 

Encouraged by his student's story, the Czech Ivan Mackerle was the first to try to find and explore it. But because of the belief that the very mention of that creature brought bad luck, he could hardly learn anything from the local population. Yet after a few vodkas, some spoke up. The worm, according to the nomads, loves the yellow color and the same color is its deadly poison that kills the sprayed victim in an instant after which it turns into a yellow decaying corpse. The worm allegedly killed a boy playing with yellow toys. His parents followed in the footsteps of the killer worm but the same fate befell them as their child. The older woman told Ivan how she heard the worm live and hide under the sand. Unfortunately, Mackerle failed to gather any evidence of becoming that deadly worm. The last expedition, led by English biologist Richard Freeman, had an ambitious plan to even catch that worm for research, but after that failure, everything remains just a legend similar to the one about the American Bigfoot or the Scottish monster Loch Ness.

Story by: Stipe Božić, professional mountaineer and Himalayan climber

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