The landscape of Mongolia is mesmerizing: vast and virtually untouched by roads. A landlocked country, Mongolia encompasses a wide range of environments. The southern third is the dry Gobi desert, home of the wild Bactrian camels and the ‘Flaming Cliffs’, a world-famous site for dinosaur fossils, including dinosaur eggs. The central part of Mongolia is the enormous wide-open spaces of rolling grassland steppe in shades of light green and brown highlighted with bursts of color and the white of the nomads’ tents. To the north, bordering Russia, lies the Siberian taiga forest scattered with beautiful lakes, and the dramatic Altai Mountains rise in the West. Yet, despite this stunning scenery, my favorite place in Mongolia is inside a nomadic herder’s small round movable tent called a ger (also known as a yurt) where I know that I will always be warmly welcomed.
During my travels in Mongolia, I was continually moved by the kindness and hospitality of the nomadic herders. They have a strong tradition of hospitality toward strangers.You will be given food, and offered a place to stay for the night if you need it. Like my experience with Akmiran, you will be offered help despite you are not asking for it, if they saw you needed it and there is no language barriers.
The tradition of hospitality towards strangers is deeply rooted in Mongolian culture. Living in comparative isolation, nomads need to be able to rely on one another for assistance even if they are strangers. Travellers know they are always welcome to food and a place to sleep in a family’s ger. Upon entering, depending on the season and time of day, you might be offered tea, vodka, or airag (the national drink made of fermented mare’s milk) along with a selection of cheeses.
My photos with the Eagle Hunters Family being invited inside their home, served with biscuits and local tea. And being entertained by showing me how to wear their traditional dress hat or turban. As they don’t speak English, our communication is through sign language. As I look like Chinese or Mongols, I have blended in nicely
My photo above on the left wearing the gift they give me before we left their place – that lovely knitted dress turban
This is how I look like in a normal photoshooting day in the field.
Great memories, Yep, the Mongolian people were some of the most welcoming and kind people in the world. Thanks for the kindness of Ulzi for holding my hand one time, without his kindness I wasn’t able to climb a high cliff that we have visited one time and wasn’t able to photograph those spectacular places with the Eagle Hunter.
If you want to visit Mongolia, you can contact Ulzi, a Mongolian tour owner and organiser. He is highly recommended. His website is www.travelofmongolia.com. Email: [email protected] Contact details: +976-70074000 or +976-88008837