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Why Mongolia ?

Why Mongolia ?

Gregory 9 days ago
By Gregory | Wednesday 13 December, 2017 13 December, 2017

 

Mongolia. Ever heard of it ? If you haven't you probably should look it up before dismissing it entirely. If you have heard of it, let me tell you it's so much more than the Mongolian BBQ and Chinggis Khan Vodka you're thinking about right now. The only ones who really know what Mongolia is all about would be the ones living there and the ones who've been there. Because Mongolia isn't a country, it isn't a fancy adventure destination, it's the 'Best thing that will ever happen to you'.

True there maybe many places which would make you feel this way after you've just visited them but here are a few reason why Mongolia is extra special.

 
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1. Space & Time

In Mongolia, you'll have both ... in abundance !! Ever had that feeling that people just get to you and it's hard to zone out and recalibrate your thoughts for a while. Well apart from the capital city Ulaanbataar, you can zone out pretty much anywhere in Mongolia. Though Mongolians are very efficienteverything runs at it's own pace giving you the feeling that it's always a good time to stop, take a break and take in the view.

Sunsets & Silhouettes

'Clear skies' more often than not and a 'Horizon as far as the eye can see', form the perfect combination for the ideal 'Silhouette at Sunset' Shot. Whether it's at the Central Steppe or the Desert in the South of the country, sunsets in Mongolia will rarely disappoint. The remoteness and isolation gives you a sense of calm and will prove to be one of the more humbling experiences of your journey.

 
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Kids & Cheeks

Some of the happiest kids in the world may be found on the Mongolian Steppe. With little in the way of modern gadgets and a judgmental society, the children enjoy the joys of the outdoors and learn the practical lessons in life. Though education is now compulsory even among nomadic children, coming home to the family 'Ger' will always keep them grounded with their surroundings. Oh Yes, and the cheeks ! They're as red as ever more so in the Central on Northern areas of Mongolia due to the cold winds during the winter and is characteristic feature in Mongolian children.

 

Milk & Meat

With the number of sheep, goat, yak and camel herders, and a climate that demands some fatty food, it’s hard to imagine finding a vegetarian in Mongolia. The large percentage of animal fat in Mongolian diets helps the natives to withstand the cold and also work outdoors. The milk and cream derived from these animals is used to make diverse beverages, cheese and other such products. Everything the nomads eat is just at their doorstep and they make use of every last bit which in itself is admirable. The Mongolian Barbecue in picture known as ‘ Khorkhog’  is cooked on special occasions or when there are guests. Wash it down with some goat milk and you’re all set. Mongolian delicacies will not only tingle your taste buds but at the same time make you appreciate the joys of living of the land.

Be prepared for a feast fit for a Nomad ! 

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Road trips & Horizons

Road trips would often mean 'enjoying the journey'. In Mongolia, road trips are often redefined and are more synonymous with adventure. They begin almost immediately and seem to never end. The long open road and a crisp and clear horizons are some of the key features of a Mongolian Road Trip. With only 20% of the roads in the country paved and the rest ‘dirt-roads’, be prepared for the ultimate off-road adventure in Central Asia. The long drives and landscapes are gorgeous but it’s the sights along the way that will keep you entertained throughout your journey, from the wildlife, to the quaint towns that pop-up from almost nowhere. 

Horses & Horsemen

With 13 times the number of horses than people in Mongolia, it’s safe to say that they are a major part of Mongolian life. It is said that Mongolians are born in a saddle, with children as young as four, being able to ride. It’s the first thing that shows up while you do your ‘Google search’ on Mongolia and they are not wrong. Horses roam free whether they are wild or domesticated and are a common sight during your journey through Mongolia and form a picturesque setting on the wide open steppe. Horse riders from all over the world descend on the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding areas to test their horse-riding skills . Horse riding also has deep roots in Mongolian tradition with it being one of the three manly sports along with Wrestling and Archery.

 
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Hospitality & Kindness

Mongolians take hospitality to another level, with the little the nomadic people have they are always ready to share among fellow travelers and nomadic families. There was no indication of wanting something in return wherever we went, though it is always good to appreciate their kindness. We could stop practically anywhere on our journey at any Ger and the nomadic family would offer us food and drink. Young or old, nomad or city-goer, the genuine level of hospitality was unmistakable. The families that we stayed with or the people that we met along the way always left an impression which would remain with us for a while to come.  

Night & Day

If you thought that Mongolia looked beautiful during the day, wait until the sun goes down. While that in itself is  a spectacle, the dark skies coupled with the lack of electricity and hence no light pollution makes for an astro-photographer's  paradise. The Milkyway becomes clearly visible during the night, more so in the desert. The shot in picture was taken in the South Gobi just after sunset, and a few minutes before moonrise.

 
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The Gobi & The Camels

Once you cross the Middle Gobi and head further south past the town of Mandal-Ovoo, the landscape changes and gets a brown tinge. The green grassland of Central Mongolia gives way to the shrubs of the Middle Gobi and eventually the Sand Dunes and Mountains of the South Gobi. The Khongryn Els Singing Sand Dunes is what your typical idea of the Gobi desert would be. However, The Gobi consists of shrub lands, cliffs and the Altai Mountain range as well, making for a spectacular journey through the region. The Bactrian camels, native to Central Asia, are hard to miss and often make great subjects in this diverse region.                 

 

Flat and 'Not So Flat'

A common misconception is that Mongolia is FLAT. Mongolia though is far from it. Without even reaching the 4000 meter high Altai mountains in Western Mongolia, I can tell you that Mongolia isn't flat. In fact the landscape changes quite rapidly for such a a large country. The pictures you often see are the vast steppe of Central Mongolia and the rolling hills. The valleys of the Central region give way to cliffs in the Gobi and canyons around the Yolin Am region in the South Gobi. The gorge in this area is so deep that it is covered with ice for ten months of the year.

 
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So what are you waiting for ? Mongolia doesn't need you, YOU need Mongolia.. to experience happiness the way it was meant to be enjoyed. It may be off-the beaten track, but it isn't difficult. In fact it is safer than most places in the world and the people will make you feel at home. All you need to do is let go of all your material possessions for a few days, which isn't too much to ask.

Comments (2)

Bonnie

Bonnie

1 month ago

Because Mongolia isn't a country, it isn't a fancy adventure destination, it's the 'Best thing that will ever happen to you'. That sums it up right there. I've traveled and lived all over the world but Mongolia is the country I really fell in love with. Gregory's article really captures the specialness of Mongolia.

Missing

Ganchimeg

9 days ago

We love our coutry. We have much much special places that u're even imagine.............. !!! Gregory just hit the nail on the head........ 

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