Jess Signet is a travel blogger who spent some time in Mongolia and who loved it – ‘Mongolia is such a beautiful and diverse place, there is a lot to write about.’ Jess asked if she could write a post about Mongolia for our blog. And write about it Jess has.
Some travellers to Mongolia come, visit, and move on to the next destination and experience. For others, it is so much more than that. It is the start of a much longer commitment. Where the immense, raw silent landscapes and the way the locals make their life in this harsh terrain keeps calling you back.
If you have yet to travel to Mongolia, how will you know if you have fallen in love with the country I call home? This brilliant blog post by Jess Signet will tell you.
Mongolia is a vast, unique and diverse country, and it’s this individuality that causes visitors to fall deeply in love with the place. From the culture, to the cuisine, to the spectacular and unmatchable views over the steppes, there are so many reasons that Mongolia can touch your heart and have you yearning to return.
The home of herders and the birthplace of Genghis Khan and his subsequent empire, this country and its long vibrant history is truly like no other, and once you’ve had a taste of it’s magic, it’s hard to leave it behind. Here are five signs that you have well and truly fallen in love with Mongolia.
You Miss the Wide Open Spaces
The first thing traveler’s notice about Mongolia is the space. Located between Russia and China, this unique country offers a wide, varied and mostly untouched landscape that is breathtaking for any visitor. Whether you’re camping in the Gobi Desert, trekking through the Altai Mountains in the west or exploring the forests of the Khentii Mountains, you are always surrounded by fresh air and stunning views for miles and miles around.
This wide-open space makes it easy to understand the lure of the nomadic lifestyle that many of the countries people lead across the numerous steppes and mountain ranges of this spectacular country. Once travellers have had a taste of this unlimited freedom then the cramped, claustrophobic city life is hard to go back to! Don’t be surprised if you’re dreaming of crossing the Great Plains on horseback while sitting in your office at work.
You Get Culture Shock When You Go Home
A testimony to any culture is that it’s harder to leave it than it is to arrive. This is certainly the case for anybody who truly experiences Mongolian culture. The people of this region are some of the most friendly and hospitable that you will meet anywhere in the world. Their strong superstitious ways and nomadic life entwines them with the land they live on in a way that can only be described as truly beautiful.
Although they do not expect foreigners to know their customs, it’s easy to memorise a few, and the delight that will bring to locals is unmatchable. On arrival you will be offered a drink or snacks and greeted with such warmth and hospitality that it’s even considered rude if you don’t accept. After spending any amount of time with these heartfelt and passionate people, the culture shock you experience when you have to go back home can be a bit of a surprise!
You Love The Winter Just As Much As The Summer
Mongolia’s two seasons differ dramatically, but a true sign that you’ve fallen in love with this country is that you’ve learned to love the winter just as much as the summer. The cold months in the country are unarguably difficult and many tourists tend to stay away until peak season, but for those brave enough to venture out into the country during the winter, the rewards are infinite. The sight of the winter sun shining on the ice-covered mountains and frozen rivers is unmatched in beauty.
Alongside this, the cold season is a great time to check out city life. Winter in the capital, Ulaanbataar, includes many winter festivals, that you can enjoy without the usual crowds of tourists. Other than this, you can spend your time making friends at a local bar or even just curl up in your hotel room and catch up on Netflix while listening to the howling winds outside. Plus, experiencing the Lunar New Year celebration—Tsaagan Sar—makes it clear that the soul and vitality of this country is there to be loved all year round.
You Want To Own A Mongolian Dog
One thing that is overtly evident no matter how long you stay in Mongolia is the love that the people have for their animals. Alongside horses, eagles and other birds of prey, the Mongolian dog is a common and well-loved part of any Mongolian family. Although these animals all play equal importance to the families, the dog is the only animal that is given a name.
Traditional Mongolian herding dogs—historically of the Bankhar breed—are huge, furry and impossible not to love. They have been trained and used throughout history to protect herds and placate endangered predators, such as the snow leopard. Although cross breeds have become much more common for herders to use over the years, you’ll always know a Mongolian dog when you see one, and you’ll most definitely be tempted to take one home with you.
You Know The True Potential of Milk
In the West, milk tends to be very unexciting and run of the mill, with the only variation being the difference in fat content and bottle top colour. However, all true Mongolians—and travellers who have fallen in love with the country—know that milk is a versatile and delicious staple with uncountable health benefits. Dairy products are known as Tsagaan Idee—or white food—and vary massively from the typical produce that most travellers know as “diary”.
From Tarag, a traditional yoghurt, Airag, a national beverage made from fermented mare milk, or Mongol Arikh a light milk based liquor, to Orom, a creamy jam-like condiment, or Khailmag, which is basically caramelised clotted cream, there is no end to the delicious treats that are made from milk in Mongolia. So much so that no traveler will ever want to go back to experiencing bottled milk once they’ve had a taste of the delicacies.
There is so much about Mongolia that grabs you as soon as you enter the country, and the more time you spend there, the more reasons you find to fall in love with it. Although these five things are real signs that the country will forever have a place in your heart, there are many more reasons to feel this way.