Mongolia

Why We Love It

Seeing the Great Wall and Siberia were the main drawcards of the Trans-Mongolian Railway for me, but it turned out Mongolia was the highlight of my adventure. Mongolia held me captivated from the moment the train came to a grinding halt in the capital Ulaanbaatar. Scores of children, hitherto well-concealed farm stock and traders from all over the region tumbled off the carriages. I marvelled over the sight, trying to calculate whether there was method to the madness or it was just utter chaos. It turns out Ulaanbaatar is a brilliant mixture of controlled mayhem, soviet-style buildings and the lively buzz of a city on the move. I wandered the streets and soaked up the contrasts: on side of the road old men eat at a cafĂ© so ancient it looks as if Genghis Khan himself may have once tucked into a feast at its tables, while across the road a modern looking diner is packed out with kids sporting Top Gun style aviators. The younger generation has moved in its droves to Ulaanbaatar, giving the capital an exciting buzz. With just under half the 2.7 million population of Mongolia living in Ulaanbaatar and a country the size of Australia, as soon as you head out of town everything changes. The landscape opens up into a wild wonderland of vast moonscape plains rising to massive ridges. It is this open, unending wilderness that is most rewarding for travellers. You still see nomadic locals go about day-to-day life. Eagles soar, camels wander by, and livestock roam without boundaries amidst panoramas the equal of which I have not seen anywhere. The traveller here feels like an explorer – you really get the feeling of experiencing a place that is still undiscovered. It is these and many other reasons why I love Mongolia, but the only way to truly experience a place so different is to go yourself!