“So why Mongolia?”
In reality I don’t really know much about Mongolia aside from a couple of things: (1) Mongolian barbecue, (2) horses, and (3) there was a 90’s game show that became popular in the Philippines. Of those three I would associate only number two to Mongolia now that I’ve been there.
While our guide Erka was preparing dinner he threw us that question. “So why Mongolia?” He was curious as it is in his philisopher nature to ask questions. I didn’t give him the three above though because that’s silly and there is this one other thing about Mongolia that I know about – landscape.
We’re driving five days through Gobi desert, five days of long nasty drive. I cannot rest my head on the seat in the risk of throwing up so even if driving usually lulls me to sleep I sit upright. Occasionally I peer over Erka’s shoulders and watch him maneuver the wheel like in a video game. Mad, I told myself then shake my head with a smile.
“We have to drive fast so you don’t feel the bump”
Yeah that wasn’t true at all cause I still felt every jump.
But with all that rigorous drive was it worth it? Let’s see.
While five days is anything but a delicious drive across the Gobi, overall I love the experience and would recommend it to anyone.
Camping out in the middle of a chilly grassland.
Meeting nomad families.
Sleeping in their ger.
Eating their favorite goat meat in all kinds of dishes.
Getting on a camel.
Killing our knees in the dunes.
Getting lost in nothingness.
Riding a russian jeep.
And seeing some road action.
Come’on what’s not to like?!
The desert is not for everyone though. That said here’s what I think:
- If you want to drive out do it for at least 8 days and take note that it will be bumpy
- If you don’t like driving, you can fly to the south of Gobi
- Pack for chilly nights and scorching days
- Have an english speaking guide, it helps
- Get ready to eat meat
- Look out for animals, there are plenty to see
- If you see something photo worthy ask to stop but be mindful of your companions
- Sunset in Khongor sand dunes is beautiful so climb it but prepare your knees
- Say “San Banu” for hello and “Bayarla” for thank you
“The Mongolian tradition is disappearing”
I could see in his face the slight sadness as he mentions this. Erka grew up in a nomad life too but like most of his generation he now lives in the city.
From afar I see teenagers herd animals. School is on vacation so they’ve gone home to help their parents.
I thought of asking Erka why is nomad life disappearing but I can already see with my eyes the answer. Life in the countryside is becoming harder. For how long families like this will continue – probably not long but I hope I’m wrong.