Past Travels - Mongolia

Where: Mongolia
When: June 2005

Continuing on from last week... The Trans-Mongolian (trans-siberian) stops at Ulaan Bataar, six days and seven nights after leaving Moscow. Ulaan Baatar is a strange city. The Mongols are fiercely patriotic and traditional nomads and yet they are as eager as the rest of the world to embrace development and progress. This had led to some unusual developments. For example, in the suburbs of Ulaan Baatar most families still choose to live in the traditional nomadic tent, the Yurt. As the train cut through the suburbs of Mongolia on its way to the centre we were surrounded by row after row of allotments all containing Yurt, Satellite dish and 4WD car.
But despite their reputation as being the great conquerors of the Asian continent, so tyrannical that the Chinese built a wall for protection, the Mongols are really incredibly generous and hospitable people. The Mongolian steppes quickly give way to desert. This is a harsh land of extreme heat and cold and in both Ulaan Baatar and the rural farm where our group stayed for 3 days we were greeted with love and kindness.

Mongolia surprised me with its beauty. It was a highlight of my trip. I had no expectations and was completely overwhelmed by the landscape, the people and the sensitive way this country is embracing change whilst continuing to respect and uphold its traditions. The only downside was the food. If you make the trip expect goats meat with dumplings most nights with fermented horse milk (Kumis) to drink. This is not a country for vegetarians.
Four days was not nearly enough to even scratch the surface of this country. But after a short rest in Ulaan Baatar we boarded the train for the last leg of the journey, across the Gobi and into Beijing.

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