Not many of us even know where it is on the map, and those who do most likely know little or nothing about the place. Truth be told, the main reason we went there is because to get your Global Degree you’ve got to visit every nation on earth. But WOW, we’re happy we went!
After arriving at Golden Gobi Hostel (which we definitely recommend), you’ll meet the owner Ogie, and she’ll setup the perfect tour for you depending on your schedule and budget. We chose the customized 10-day tour, and so here are our 8 reasons why stumbling upon Mongolia ended up being one of the greatest highlights of our trip across Asia. It very well may be the coolest country you will ever visit:
1 The train rides from Beijing are a big party
Well mainly because we made it one. The Mongolians we met were incredibly curious about foreigners and everywhere we looked, we saw people staring back at us. Instead of being intimidated, turn on some music, pass around the local drinks, and teach them how to fist pump! Things can escalate quickly, and next thing you know your train cart is a rave!
2 The Kazakh eagle hunters
These people are insanely cool. At the very beginning of our Gobi tour, we got to meet an eagle hunter at his home just outside of Ulaanbaatar. We started by having milk tea and eating small cookies at his kitchen table. Then he took us into his living room, where we waited while he went outside, and brought in an eagle on his arm. This animal was intimidating, and clearly made to hunt.
The story goes that they take the eagles eggs straight from the nest, and train them from birth. Once fully grown, they use it to hunt fox and rabbit.
Oh, and he also happen to have a pet vulture that we got to play with. No biggie…
3 Staying with nomadic families in their ger
The nomads are some of the most remote people on earth. They live in these small white tents in the middle of the dessert, hundreds of miles from any civilization. All they have are herds of sheep, goats, and camels, a motorbike, and a gun. But they don’t only survive, they thrive. They’re incredibly kind and happy people that were very welcoming. We were happy to sleep on their floors every night.
4 Riding camels through the Gobi Desert
These aren’t your everyday camels. Mongolian camels are pretty rugged and shaggy looking. We found herds of wild ones freely roaming the desert, and a family we stayed with had about 8 of them that we got to ride. They are big and funny looking creatures. Don’t get too close or they’ll spit on you!
5 Climbing the singing Sand Dunes
There are some Sahara looking sand dunes in the Gobi, but these ones are special. The sand is so fine, that when you run down them it makes a very loud, propeller-sounding noise. Yes, sprint down these hills fast enough and it sounds like there’s a plane chasing after you. It’s quite a work out to get up there, with very rewarding views at the top.
6 The Major Earth Porn
No joke. Mongolia has some sights that will leave you scratching your head and asking “how is this even possible?” Sand dunes with ice-capped mountains right behind them, blood red sunsets, insanely beautiful canyons etc. The list goes on.
7 Walking the same steps as the greatest world conqueror in history
Genghis Khan ruled the largest empire in history, spanning 12.74 million miles (or 22% of the worlds landmass). Everywhere else in the world, he’s seen as a ruthless warmonger. But in Mongolia, he is a god. We visited his monument, which is officially the worlds tallest horse statue.
8 Embracing the Mongolian drinks
While sitting in a circle around the fire stove in the Ger, the Nomads will pull out some interesting drinks to keep you entertained. One night, they poured us some fermented Camel milk. Other drinks include fermented horse milk, goak milk, and moonshine served out of a leather pouch with a portrait of Genghis Kahn on the front.
They will also play little games with you. An all-time favourite is when you have a pile of cow teeth, throw one in the air and try and set aside as many as you can before catching it again. If you don’t catch it, your side-pile goes back into the pot.
Well that’s it my friends. For more info check out our Mongolia video! Hopefully these images and descriptions will show you how remarkable this place really is. Once again, coming from some backpackers who have just been to every country in Asia, I’ll repeat that this place CANNOT be missed!