We’ve been out of touch for a while because we have been almost in the middle of nowhere — Mongolia! Just a few days after landing in Shanghai, we took off for an 11 day trip to this amazing country. Luckily for our readers, this trip was more about sights and sounds, so you get lots of pictures and less text!
We arrived in Ulaan Baatar, the capitol city, just in time for two big events: Mongolia’s Presidential Inauguration and the Naadam Festival, their national games, which includes the “manly” sports of horse racing, wrestling, and archery.
This little guy was hilarious. Don’t miss the stores in the background – quite a clash between the past and the present:
The Naadam Festival was quite a spectacle – this is the opening ceremony:
The horse racing was very well attended – here was our view of the finish line at the end of the biggest race:
We did get to see a later race, and it was very exciting. If the jockeys look young, it’s because they are – some were as young as 4 years old!
The Naadam wrestling tournament is the Super Bowl of Mongolian sport: 512 competitors, single elimination, one winner. Jack is considering dressing up like a Mongolian wrestler for Halloween…
Archery. Again, beautiful traditional costumes. Men and women both hitting targets from 75 to 100 yards.
Also while in Ulaan Baatar, we also got to see the complete T. Rex skeleton that was auctioned off illegally in the U.S. (for $1 million!) and just returned to Mongolia a couple of months ago:
After a few days in Ulaan Baatar, we set out with for the Gobi desert. We got to see some amazing views along the way. I expected Mongolia to have wide, open spaces, and it sure does! But there are also lots of mountains. Most nights we stayed in gers, or yurts, owned by local families, but also spent a few nights in tents:
Our guide was Jess, a wonderful British woman who runs Eternal Landscapes, a travel company focused exclusively in Mongolia. Her #1 driver and partner is Turuu. Both were amazing – if anyone is looking for a unique travel adventure, this is the place, and this is the team! Here is a picture of Jess and Turuu with the kids:
We spent a LOT of time in our vehicle – an old Soviet van called a Furgon. Not the most glamorous vehicle on the outside, but a groovy interior:
The exterior wasn’t as exciting, but it did get us through some tight spaces!
One of the revelations of our trip was that Ryan is quite the little adventurer. He was always up for another hike or another climb.
Catherine loved the wide open spaces too….
…and so did Jack….
….but Jack didn’t like the enclosed spaces. Here’s Ryan trying to talk him into his first trip to the outhouse:
Catherine met an adorable Mongolian girl at one of our stops. They became fast friends, even though they couldn’t understand each other. It’s really cool how much kids can communicate and play even in different languages.
Our last stop in Mongolia was at Khongoryn Els in the Gobi Desert. The sand dunes are stunning!
At the top of the dunes, looking back at the Gobi:
We can’t write a blog post about Mongolia without including a camel picture. We’ll spare you from the pictures of the camel ride.
A grueling climb to the top of the highest dune just before sunset…but the view was worth the effort:
Finally, sunset over the Gobi:
We have now arrived back in Shanghai and have spent our first week wading through the logistics of the move. More on that soon!