My Mongolian Journey!

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My Mongolian Journey!

Postby MrCAMEL » Sat 22 May, 2010 1:05 am

Last July I was lucky enough to randomly book myself a plane ride to Mongolia for this gone March. So this March, after 6 weeks in South East Asia, when I arrived in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia's capital) I still had no idea what I was going to do. Luckily, I met some people in the hostel and I ended up travelling to the 'country side', as all Mongolians say, with a US woman and a Mongolian guide.
We were heading for the guide's extended family around the Black Stallion (or horse) Mountain Range, South of Altai City. Somewhere around here, http://maps.google.com.au/maps?f=q&sour ... 8&t=h&z=13 but I have not been able to find out where exactly.

I have posted pictures of the car used to get from Altai City in this thread.
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=3736
The 'road' into the area
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We stayed with the Uncle ofthe guide for 3 nights in this Ger.
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Baby goat!!!
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Their way of life is amazingly difficult.

This area of the country had been one of the least affected areas by the "Dzud", where over 8,000 herder families have lost all of their livestock.
http://www.mongolia-web.com/business-an ... 60-billion
To see the sheep and the goats digging in the rocks and the dirt and then eating something was quite unreal, and quite depressing to know that these people were some of the most 'fortunate' in this winter.

Mongolians eat a lot of meat. In fact, every meal includes boiled meat. Sheep in this case. For 5 days I ate boiled sheep. Luckily I knew this was going to be the case, and the guide told us to get some potato, carrots, cabbage and onions, the most readily available vegies in the country. Their sheep is so fatty, gristly and to watch Mongolians share the meat bowl is also a great experience. They cut meat off for each other, pass it around, always offering everyone else some more. The great Mongolian culture of hospitality is true and still about, and with every uncle's and cousin's ger we visited, we were always offered tea, vodka, boiled sheep and lollies. They do this without even thinking about it.

One day we went for a walk in the mountains and the views were superb.
The full pictures speak for themselves, so I hope the small ones work alright.
It would have been around -20, and that's cold for me. Even the Mongolian was rugged up, so it might have been colder on top of the mountain.
We walked for about 4 hours, climbed a small mountain and came back down the steep way.
Some pictures of the barren and breathtaking surroundings!
Trees
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Hills
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The road into the area, came directly from somewhere straightish ahead.
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The Mongol and myself
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Resting on top of the highest hill we visited. A bit cold!
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I did a bunch of other things, like help a family move house (ger), get given names by Mongolians, rode a 2 humped camel, relearned that instead of tv and computers, people play cards and laugh and sing together until 2am, made Mongolians laugh by not eating fat, centimetres thick, made Mongolians laugh by liking vegies, wear the same clothes for 7 days straight because it was too cold to change and learned that Mongolians must be the best Asians, and maybe the best people ever.

These guys came from nowhere as we were driving home and it is one of my favourite random pictures.

How far from home can you be in the world?
Sometimes the answer is unthinkable.
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I will always sound like an idiot when I talk and write about Mongolia , but it really is a simply amazing country. Rough around the edges, a lot of problems, but the landscape, culture, people and the spirit and welcoming nature of the people, as well as the chaos of the capital city compared to the serenity of the rest of the country, make it a brilliant place to visit.


DO VISIT!
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby Tony » Sat 22 May, 2010 7:35 am

Thanks for a great trip report MrCAMEL, very enjoyable read and photos, I would love to do some walking in Mongolia one day.

Thanks again.

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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby Jellybean » Sat 22 May, 2010 11:13 am

Yes, thanks Mr Camel! Awesome report and pics. What a fantastic experience and memories for you!

It's trips like that that make you review what's really important in life. The reasons you've raved about Mongolia are the same reasons that I absolutely love Nepal - from the chaotic but fascinating "mess" of Kathmandu to the remoteness and beauty of the mountains and the people who live there. The people we have met on trips there have nothing compared to us and live in the harshest conditions, yet always seem to be happy, smiling, singing, laughing. There's something to be said for keeping life simple, I always almost feel annoyed at returning to Western life after the simplicity and serenity of the Himalayas.

Thanks again!

Cheers,

JB
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby ozjolly » Sat 22 May, 2010 11:32 am

Wow. What a great trip!

I was just saying to my wife last night that I'd love to visit Mongolia, although what you've described is something else again!

It makes you feel sorry for those who think that travelling involves driving somewhere in a bus, stepping out at a tourist site they've seen on TV 100 times before and watching most of it through the lens of their camera, and then heading back into the bus to return to their 5 start hotel surrounded by people from their own country!

Thanks for sharing. The pics are amazing.
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby Son of a Beach » Sat 22 May, 2010 12:53 pm

Thanks for the report, MrCamel - fantastic stuff. If it makes you sound crazy, then it's surely stirred some passion, and that's a wonderful thing! :-) The photos are amazing - They've inspired me to create a new International Trip Reports forum, just for it. OK - done!
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby Taurë-rana » Sat 22 May, 2010 11:33 pm

Absolutely awesome! and inspiring. Thanks MrCAMEL.
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby MrCAMEL » Sun 23 May, 2010 1:17 am

It's such a funny country. In total I spent 14 days in Mongolia. 7 days walking the streets of Ulaanbaatar, which I found fascinating, watching the people, the traffic, the buildings, the police and the weather. 2 days on these Minibuses that are registered to seat 12 people.
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There were 17 people each way. It is funny at each aimag (province) border, the extra people have to hide somehow. So they get a dozen bags thrown over them, and then the police wave the van through. Surely they must know. Also, without knowing Mongolian language, it would be extremely hard to get around outside of the capital without a guide, hardly anyone speaks or understands any English.

From left to right, the crew of the trip
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The Mongol driver and cousin ofthe guide from Altai City, The US Woman from Colorado, silly Tasmanian, Guide living in Ulaanbaatar.

Camel on Camel!
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It has been over 2 months since I got back home, but thinking of what I have seen, and looking at my photos, it is so hard to accept and get on with our so called 'superior' lives.
It is funny to read in the papers that 'countryside' Mongolians laugh at city Mongolians because they eat too many vegetables. A hell of a lot of Mongolians are migrating from the countryside into the city due to severe weather, and that is part of the reason for the mass chaos, pollution and unclean way of life for many city Mongolians. It is a very fragile country.

However, all Mongolians are passionate about their country. Do youself a favour if you visit and stay at Zaya's Hostel in the capital. I stayed their for 7 nights at US9.60$ a night, with breakfast and free wireless internet. Zaya and her husband can tell you anything you would need to know. I even went skiing with them one day because they asked me to go with them. They also told me that all city Mongolians know how hospitable countryside Mongolians are, which is what I experienced.

Walking down small alley ways in the city, with rough looking blokes carrying hesian bags coming towards you, would normally be quite scary as a foreigner. But I quickly learned that these blokes are nothing but hard working family men, who have the job of searching through bins to find recyclables. It's such a sad thing to see. They see a 'rich' foreigner alone, coming towards them, and all they focus on is finding their next plastic bottle. For 7 days I saw this and I think it is such a credit to their culture of hard work and fair play, that they don't even think to ask for some help. These are some of these people you see on the streets http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/OhYkjERs ... wXW9lhteGe

Anyways, the guide, Temuujin, would be up for anything, so if anyone wants a great English speaking guide for any trip at all, let me know and I will give you his contact details.

Either I am an extremely delusioned traveller, or I may actually love Mongolia and the way people deal with being Mongolians! 8)
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby Son of a Beach » Sun 23 May, 2010 9:54 am

I just told my kids that I've got some pictures of a two-hump wump to show them in this topic, and they loved your wump photos (as do I, they're very cuddly looking).
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby Lindsay » Mon 24 May, 2010 12:38 am

My wife and I spent 3 days in Ulaanbaatar waiting for a train. I wish we had planned a little better and visited the countryside as well. The Mongolians were friendly, food was great and I loved the Chinngis beer! I envy you your trip Camel.
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby Phil » Thu 29 Jul, 2010 8:26 am

I don't know if anyone else saw but I sat down on the couch and tuned in to ABC2 at 8pm last night to watch the documentary of Tim Cope's journery on horseback from Mongolia through to Hungary as he re-traced the journey of the famous Genghis Kahn. He had estimated that the trip may take him 18 months......with a couple of hiccups along the way (including his Father dying in a car accident back in Australia) it ended up taking him around 3 years I think.

The series will run for 5 more 1/2 hour episodes.

http://www.timcopejourneys.com

Totally breath-taking footage. What an absolute legend!
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby dancier » Thu 29 Jul, 2010 7:22 pm

I was on Iview and watched it about 9pm last night, but it's funny how coincidences happen.

A few weeks back I did a cycling loop from Darwin down to Adelaide river via Lycthfield nation park. I went via the back road and was about 15k into the journey. I came across an old couple cycle touring like myself but they were heading back to Canberra over three months. Over the next three days we chatted on and off but they told me there son and friend crossed Siberia on recumbents and made a film called off the rails which I remember seeing years ago. As it turns out the friend was Tim Cope.

http://www.timcopejourneys.com/index.pl?page=43


I wasn't too keen on the animals the guys where eating at the end of the film, they loved them though. It nearly made me sick.
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby MrCAMEL » Sun 29 Aug, 2010 2:51 am

His trip across the area would have been amazing.

Also,
I have been telling everyone and just so it is written, my plans in life at the moment are; Next August at the latest, I will be in Mongolia on a study visa, learning the language and culture. Obviously a lot can happen in that time, but that is what I am aiming for! 8)
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby geoskid » Fri 17 Sep, 2010 7:58 pm

MrCAMEL wrote:His trip across the area would have been amazing.

Also,
I have been telling everyone and just so it is written, my plans in life at the moment are; Next August at the latest, I will be in Mongolia on a study visa, learning the language and culture. Obviously a lot can happen in that time, but that is what I am aiming for! 8)

Hiya Mr Camel, I searched to find this post. Many things play on my mind, and your life change has been right up there.
In my mind you are a champion. Thanks for your photos of your trip.
Yeah- live life, I would love to hear about anything that you do.
Kindest regards
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby MrCAMEL » Tue 18 Oct, 2011 5:35 pm

I just thought I would write here and offer anyone a bit of help if needed. Almost 2 months ago I moved to Mongolia and have started my language course. It is hard and I don't study anywhere near as much as I should. A lot because I actually don't know how to. But it is still a lot of fun.
So then, If anyone needs any help with Mongol things, I can try to help!
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby Tofu_Imprint » Tue 18 Oct, 2011 8:27 pm

Amazing mate. Really made me want to get over there and experience it for myself! I love how you have actually moved over there! How long do you plan to stay? Are there opportunities to teach English over there?
I know in many countries, native speakers of English are a valued commodity.
Good luck with it all.
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Re: My Mongolian Journey!

Postby MrCAMEL » Tue 18 Oct, 2011 10:08 pm

The course I am doing is meant to take 2 years. (Although i'm not too confident about our first big test next week - maybe i'll have to start again) After 6 weeks of school, I am happy with where my reading, writing and grammar i at. However, my listening skills are terrible. While I understand on paper, it takes me an extra 2 weeks to understand when it comes from someone's mouth.

So I hope to stay for at least that long.

From what I have heard, it would be almost impossible for a native English speaker who wants to teach in this country, to NOT get a job here. The assistant director at my school has told me 5 or more times, that I should teach english there. People have told me I could possibly help out rich families' kids. My answer is the same always. But, in Mongolia, it just does not seem to matter much. I tell them, I don't know how to teach. I have never done it. I am not trained at all. No one even cares.

Ok, so obviously the winter photos have gone now. I didnt make it to the countryside this summer. But when I first got here, the biggest difference was all the trees and flowers. It was so different. There is a garden walkway thing in the middle of the road near my home. I made a flicker thing just now and the first photo was in the summer. And just 5 weeks later, almost all the greenery around the city has gone - The photo next to it. http://www.flickr.com/photos/68787478@N03/6257335170

I also found this video shot in the same place of the photos.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6n412ydy3-8
After a weekend of 20 degrees, one Tuesday morning 3 weeks ago, we got some crazy epic early snow. Poor sunflowers! HA
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