Before arriving to Mongolia, I had arranged a tour with Zhan and his company. I didn’t really know much about the country beforehand but the tour guide Lana (Zhan was out of town at this time and had sent her to me in his place) educated me better than any book I could’ve picked up. The top five most memorable parts of Mongolia for me were:
1. How friendly the people are. Though I was thousands of miles from my home in California, I still felt like I was home here. The people are so welcoming and friendly. As soon as you walked into the door, some fresh tea with yak milk is put on the table, alongside from fresh yak butter.
2. How uninhabited most of the country is. I took a domestic flight from Ulaanbator to Olgii to meet Zhan’s tour guides and I kept my eyes peeled on the land below me the entire time for any small towns and did not see much human life. Lana told me that of the three million people in Mongolia, half live in Ulaanbator itself.
3. How absolutely beautiful the country is. The Mongolian nomadic way of life, particularly out in the rural west, is to adapt to the land, rather than change the land to your own benefit. As a result, the land is really beautiful and untouched.
4. How absolutely massive a golden eagle is. Sure, I had seen eagles in pictures but to be able to hold one and have all of its weight rested on my arm was such an eye-opener. As soon as the Kazakh eagle hunter started coaxing his eagle onto my arm, I began to realize how big the bird was and had to sit and rest my arm on my knee in order to support the eagle.
5. How surprisingly good fermented horse milk actually is. At first glance to a foreigner, fermented anything sounds unappetizing. Coupled with the fact that it came from a horse was even stranger. But it actually tasted delicious and I highly recommend savoring a slow bowl of it when you are welcomed into a Kazakh home.
Mongolia is a trip worth going making in the future and for anyone visiting the Olgii region of Mongolia, Zhan is your man.
Thanks for reading,
Note: Vyvy is a solo female traveler who runs her own blog over at https://www.vivalavyvy.com/