Why do we travel? Isn’t it to encounter a different way of life and a culture unique to ours? Don’t we travel to take time out from our own world and to experience someone else’e for a while?
As visitors to a country, shouldn’t it be us who are prepared to be flexible and adaptable? To embrace (!) and enjoy any differences that we come across during our visit? After all, we’ve chosen to visit that country and it’s only for a short space of time.
In relation to Mongolia, give it a week after your return and you won’t remember what you missed from your everyday life or the small discomforts you encountered. What you will remember are the essential ingredients of Mongolia – the vast landscapes, the way the locals make their life in this harsh terrain, the solitude, the impromptu friendships and the impact they have made on your daily life.
‘Compared to the difficulty of daily life for the herders, living permanently in those areas, ours were only the smallest of irritations.’
|The mighty Furgon!|
For a majority of visitors, making contact with the local people is an important element of their trip to Mongolia – for a moment or two, crossing the cultural divide. But here in Mongolia, the power of the landscapes must remain an integral part of any journey.
Waking up to a wilderness landscape – en-route to Tsagaannuur in the Darkhad Depression.
Taken by our guest Hui Li, 2013
|Storm clouds gathering – southern Gobi
By our guest Aiko Michot, Untamed Mongolia, 2015
|Surely the travelling is part of the discovery? Image by Turuu!|
|Zorgol Khairkhan in Dundgobi Aimag
Image by our guest Hui Li, 2012
|Khoridol Saridag and The Darkhad Depression
Image by our guest Lee Hayes, Wilderness Trails, 2012
|Khovsgol Nuur – Image by me!|
|Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park
Image by our guest Helen Long, 2013
‘…the rhythm of my days changed completely. Distances became read again, and I reacquired the taste of discovery and adventure.’
|Khoridol Saridag Strictly Protected Area
Image by our guest Zeynep Ozbek, Wilderness Trails, 2012
Keep an open mind. Mongolian culture is unique among Asian cultures and a large percentage of what you may believe about life in an Asian country does not apply here. There’s a hunger for knowledge, understanding, and excellence that drives Mongolian society, and things are changing quickly, but remember that a lot of major changes have happened within just a couple generations. Be patient with Mongolia. While it works through the changes that are going to make it better place, savour the gifts it offers and try to spend less time worrying about small issues that aren’t being met – such as hot showers or lack of western toilets. Remember, Mongolians are living this life everyday not just for a few weeks.
Respect that the local people of Mongolia wish to develop economically and gain access to material possessions that we take for granted. It’s the 21st century and nomadic herders have Smartphones. It doesn’t mean the nomadic way of life is dying out – it just means that the herders are adapting their lifestyle to suit the modern age.
Image by our guest, photographer Nick Rains, 2013
|Young and female in Mongolia – Enkhee and Oyuha|
|At Baga Gazriin Chuluu – a local musician filming for a music video
Image by our guest Susan Touchton, Wild Family Explorer, 2013
|A cobbler in northern Mongolia mending Hui Li’s shoes
Taiga Landscapes, 2013
|Sunrise att Khar Nuur, Zavkhan Aimag
Wild Treks Research 2013
Risk it. Come to Mongolia but be prepared to experience it all – the good and the bad and the ups and the downs and the mutton. Come and travel in Mongolia – not in a ‘tick-
As Jack Weatherford (yes, him again!) writes in the Mongol Queens:
‘In the mongol perspective, challenges choose us, but we choose how to respond. Destiny brings the opportunity and the misfortunes, and the merit of our lives derives in those unplanned moments.’