Quotes About Mongolia That Will (Probably) Make You Want To Make You Pack Your Bags and Book That Ticket

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It seems, for a majority of people, when they mention to their friends or family that they are planning on visiting  Mongolia the reaction tends to be ‘Mongolia? Where is that exactly? …’ or ‘Mongolia? Why? Are you mad?’ … or ‘Mongolia?’ I hope you like mutton.’

For those that have visited, the reasons are obvious – the vast weathered landscapes, the sense of timelessness and feeling of immensity, the traditions that still run deep in the 21st century, the wildlife (snow leopards – not that you’ll see one but it’s exciting enough to be in the same region)…I could go on.

‘From the air Mongolia looks like God’s preliminary sketch for earth, not so much a country as the ingredients out of which countries are made: grass, rock, water and wind.’ 

(Stanley Stewart, In the Empire of Genghis Khan)

But, for those who have not visited, here are a few quotes about Mongolia that have always managed to get under my skin or ones that express the way I feel about the country.  Most are lines from books and provide insights that make me reflect on my time in Mongolia over the years…or inspire me to learn more and to get out there and keep on discovering. 

Anyway. Make that mug of tea or coffee and take yourself off to Mongolia for a short while. We’ll start off with Roy Chapman Andrews (as a little aside, this 20th century explorer-scientist is said to be the inspiration for Steven Speilberg’s inspiration for Indiana Jones). 

‘Always there has been an adventure just around the corner–and the world is still full of corners.’

And because a blog post from me without a mention of Jack Weatherford would be unusual here we go (from 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.’

Mongolian Humour

Turuu and I. My first ever trip through the Gobi (back in the days of yore):

Jess:  When was the Gobi a sea? 

Turuu: Back when I was a fish.

Taken so long ago I can’t remember who took it! I remember it was a great night though. At Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park

Mongolian Weather 

‘On arrival and learning that the temperature was minus 18 degrees I overheard a fellow traveller say ‘thank God. Looks like Mongolia’s experiencing a warm spell.’

Benedict Allen, Edge of Blue Heaven

Image by our guest, photographer Massimo Runi

Mongolian Hospitality

‘Their resources were limited and their hospitality boundless.’

Stanley Stewart, In the Empire of Genghis Khan 

Image by our guest Violaine Coard

Landscapes of Mongolia

‘The Gobi Desert seems like earth reduced to its most basic elements: rock, sky, glaring sunlight and little else. The apparent emptiness is both compelling and intimidating. But the Gobi is not empty, it is filled with space, sky, history and landscapes.’

Conservation Ink

‘The steppe has one other unchanging characteristic: day and night, summer and winter, in foul weather or fine weather, it speaks of freedom. If someone has lost his freedom, the steppe will remind him of it.’

Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman  

Image by our guest Mick Egan

Mongolian Culture / Way Of Life

The Australian adventurer Tim Cope was crossing Mongolia on horseback. Having had his horses stolen one night close to the start of his trip, the following day Cope spotted a herd of horses moving swiftly with a single horseman in charge. On approach, Cope recognised his two horses among the pack. 

‘These two horses came to me this morning,’ the horseman said grinning. ‘You must have tied them badly.’

 The horseman returned the horses without compensation, but insisted that Cope understand an important unwritten rule of the steppe:

‘A man on the steppe with no friends is as narrow as a finger,’ the horseman said. ‘A man with friends is as wide as the steppe.’

Image by our guest Jo Reason

‘There are more animals than men, so they still have the world as god made it, and the men are noble synthesis of Genghis Khan, the warrior, and the Dalai Lama, the gentle religious leader.’

Zahava Hanan, Canadian writer and poet – Alberta, Mongolia and Siberia, the Arctic: The Big Silence

‘Their ancestors lived in the same way for a thousand years, feeling the change of the seasons like moods and moving with them. Their knowledge of this land is ancient, the wind is their breath, the earth is their bed and the dust of the steppe runs in their blood.’
Ian.D.Robinson, Gantsara. 

Why Visit Mongolia?

‘Each time I return I see constant changes alongside the things that never change. I love its paradoxes. its space and hospitality, its freedom and ancient customs. It’s a place of great roadless areas, all known and inhabited since prehistory. It is wild enough for great horned sheep, wolves, snow leopards and the last undomesticated camels; with the lowest human population density on the earth. It is the home of Buddhist hunters and Muslims who toast their guests with vodka. I can’t get enough of it, and probably never will.’

Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia, Stephen J Bodio

‘We rolled ourselves in our blankets and slept for the first time on Asiatic ground and under the clear sky of Asia…We stood on the threshold of the wide plateau at the entrance of the land of the nomads. We could not have  dreamed of a more captivating entrance to a new country, and when the sun sank upon that day, we felt as though born into a new life – a life which had the strength of the hills, the depth of the heavens and the beauty of the sunrise.’

Henning Haslund-Christensen 

Sunrise at Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian Lunar New Year) at Tsagaan Suvraga – Feb 2015

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