Mongolia Journals

Roughing it in Mongolia (the only way to travel)

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A June 1999 trip to Mongolia by Amanda

Lake Khovsgol Photo, Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia More Photos
Quote: Mongolia is not an easy place to get to. Travel information is hard to find, and often out of date. I hope this journal will help you discover one of the last truly wild parts of the world.

Roughing it in Mongolia (the only way to travel)

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Overview

The empty nothingess Photo, Mongolia, Asia
Quote:
The Gobi - Amid the 40 degree C heat, a tiny gorge holds ice all year round. A long, steep hike up the Yolyn Am gorge was one of the best features of our trip there - we got higher, and the gorge got narrower, and we felt hotter... And then we arrived at this huge patch of ice! It's a surreal and great experience. The dinosaur sites, amid flaming red cliffs, are a must. I've included two photographs of the Gobi at the bottom of this section - both should be clicked on to see in full as the subtlety of colour and texture is lost when they are thumbnails. Hovsgol Nuur - a serene, Siberian-style lake, cool, clear and beautiful. If you've been in the Gobi, it's a great chance to get clean and h...Read More

The wide outdoors

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Hotel

Quote:
Mongolia is not a place to go for luxury, but it's the world's largest campsite! The land is unfenced, unowned, and empty of humanity, it appears. Pick a spot, and it's your home for the night. Take a good tent though, there's no camp bar to hide in if it rains - and it's well worth taking a tent that's quick and easy to put up and take down, or you'll get very fed up with it after a little while! Temperatures can vary hugely from very hot in the Gobi to chilly at the lakes in the north. We took the combination of warm sleeping bags and thin silk inner bags which can be used alone and pack very small. You need to be careful about where you camp. The middle of the country has a lot of dry...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2000

Christmas Mountain Village

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Hotel | "Private flat hired for a week"

Quote:
When you're in UB, try hiring a flat through an agency, cheap hotels are mostly grotty. We paid less per night for a cosy, clean and newly furnished flat than we had previously for a nasty room in a hotel. The flat was typically Soviet - in a big concrete block, with a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. It's small, but fine for two of you to stay in. The flat we rented had cable TV, including BBC world, which was great after being out of touch with the big wide world for so long. We rented ours through the agency we organised a lot of our stuff through in Mongolia - Taishirts. They also rented us a jeep and driver, and helped sort out tickets and press passes for the Naadam festival in ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2000

Christmas Mountain Village
S944 Christmas Mountain Road
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 53965
(608) 253-1000

Manhattan Club

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Hotel | "No name"

Quote:
In most towns, you are better off camping than staying at the local 'hotel'. It often doubles as a brothel, has no running water or electricity, and is in a shocking state of repair - sometimes with holes in the walls or floors, crumbling concrete stairs and ceilings, or mould everywhere.. Don't bother! We stayed in two different "hotels", one in Moron, one in Altai Gobi, that doubled as brothels. I don't think of myself as a prude, but I did find it a very uncomfortable environment, and would advise other women to steer clear. Much better to head out of town a few miles, and camp - and after these experiences, this is what we did. We did find a nicer cheap hotel, in Dalanzagad. IT was an older ...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 27, 2000

Manhattan Club
200 West 56th St.
New York, New York 10019
(212) 453-8855

Self-catering

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Restaurant

Quote:
One camp stove, single ring, and imported food from outside Mongolia - it's the best option when outside UB. Stock up on the dried pasta and tinned veg, and you're away! We hired a stove along with the jeep and driver from the agency Taishirts, which is in UB. The stove had a single ring, and was powered by little bottles of gas which you can buy in UB. Be sure to take enough to the countryside, as we didn't see a single place outside the capital where you could buy anything of the sort. The agency also lend us a couple of pans. The cooking you can do with a single ring, and food which will keep in a hot jeep for a few weeks is limited, to say the least, but you don't have many ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 27, 2000

Naadam Festival

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Attraction | "Naadam"

Quote:
This is a festival of the 3 manly sports. It takes place all over the country around the 14th of July. The sports are horse racing, wrestling, and archery. Only wrestling is all men, and the whole thing's great. At local events, you can often join in if you want to. At a local Naadam in Dadal, east of UB, my boyfriend was invited to don the attractive tiny pants / sleeves-but-no-vest combo and wrestle with the boys, but he declined, preferring to photograph the locals at it instead! The event is a very social one; and in a nomadic population, social interaction isn't common. Much of the fun is sitting drinking local vodka or airak (made from fermented milk), and chewing the fat with the locals. Chess...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2000

Naadam Festival
Central Stadium and various locations
Ulaanbaatar City

Photographing Mongolia

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Attraction

Quote:
Mongolia can be very photogenic - but bring your own film. We found no slide film at all, and only basic print film, often badly stored. We also heard bad things about developing places in the capital, so the best advice is to bring your own film, and have it developed when back home. The sun can be very bright here, so if you are using a 35 mm SLR, it would be a very good idea to bring a polarising filter, as well as a normal UV one. A tripod is also useful, as most of the things you'll want to photograph stay still, and a tripod can help you line up the photo just right. Quite a lot of Mongolians are reluctant to be photographed, especially the monks. If you want to take a picture, it would be...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 1, 2001

escape into the wilderness

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Attraction

Quote:
If you go to Mongolia, you’re very likely to want to head out into the countryside, whether on your own (maybe in a hired jeep) or on a tour. If you hire a jeep, or head out by public transport (such as it is!), then everything you think you'll need when you are there, other than food, take with you. Water filters are a good idea, as you won't be boiling water all the time if you have one, and it's a good idea to take those water bags with taps, as the containers you can buy in UB for water are solid, which means they take up more room. They also make the water taste a bit plasticy. Swim suits are essential if you want to get clean every once in a while! You should look for special soap and sham...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 1, 2001

Quote:
There's little public transport - there's few roads, come to that! There are three main ways of getting around the place - hiring a jeep, horse-riding, and cycling. Hiring a jeep isn't as pricey as it sounds. Ours cost £1,000 for 6 weeks, covering 6,000 km, incl the driver and petrol. We had complete freedom about where we went, and could stop whenever we felt like it. Much better than an organised tour could ever be! The jeep we hired was a Russian-made effort - there's little point hiring or bringing into the country a Western car as only low octane petrol is available in the countryside, and only Russian cars like the stuff! In addition, if a Russian jeep breaks down, it's easy to fi...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 1, 2001

Quote:
I could cut this short - don't use it! MIAT - which stands for Mongolian Internal Air Transport, or 'Maybe I'll arrive today' is not one of the world's great airlines. We took a flight from Moron to Ulaan Bataar when the whole country ran out of petrol last summer. First plane crashed when taking off on the way to Moron. There were 35 seats, 60 people with tickets. They opened the doors, and everyone raced across the grass to try and get a seat - elderly people were given a head start. The people who didn't get seats (we did) sat in the aisle, and '10' people crammed into the cockpit with the pilot. MIAT doesn't appear to use navigational devices, they use maps, and the co-pilot stares ...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on July 1, 2001

Lake Khovsgol

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Attraction | "Freshwater fishing"

Lake Khovsgol Photo, Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia
Quote:
You need a permit, purchased at the point of entry to the lake. The lake is narrow, very long and deep, and so clear you can see right through the water to the deep bottom. There is no more peaceful place to fish, and the scenery is amazingly beautiful.

When we were there, our driver decided to have a go, having carried his rods all around the country. (Having spent most of his life working in Russia, he'd overcome the Mongolian adversion to being anywhere near water.) He caught a couple of trout-like things very fast, and proceeded to boil them for an hour, then fry them! Next time he caught one, I releived him of it and didn't boil it beyond taste (-:

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 27, 2000

Lake Khovsgol

Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia