Just after a month of living in Mongolia, we welcomed our first visitor – my Dad or Opa to the kids – who has never failed to show up in our new home as the first guest no matter where we have lived.
And no, he didn’t just happen to fly to Mongolia and back home half a wold away to see us, no, he was smart to connect his visit with work in China and other parts of Asia although he quickly realised that Mongolia is not just around the corner from any of those other major cities. We really are in a bit more remote location!
Despite delays and a “scenic” taxi ride to our home (thanks to John’s language skills, the taxi driver made it to our home – street addresses are not a thing here), he made it – happy and hungry and ready to play with the kids, well, perhaps not at 7am the next morning when they woke up ready to jump on his bed to say “good morning” and “play with me” and “read me a story PLEASE!”
After our shopping came to an end, we geared up for a fun next day to explore the “real” Mongolia – you know, the countryside.
John has been lucky to get out of UB for work on a few occasions and everyone we’ve talked to has raved about the beautiful scenery and landscapes as soon as you leave the city. Since we can’t drive our car yet (ah, the joys of bureaucracies), I hired a driver for the day to take us to the near-by Gorkhi-Terelj National Park but not without a quick stop to visit the biggest steel statue of the man of Mongolia – Mr. Chinggis Khaan – himself.
Apparently there is a place close to UB where – legend has it – Chinggis Khaan found a golden whip that became a big part of his life (at least I imagine the whip plays some crucial role – not that that is explained anywhere on the site … well, in English… but why else build a huge statue of him holding a golden whip?). And if you have a chance to climb up a statue that’s over 100 feet high, you just do it, right?!
So we did.
And at the bottom of the statue before we headed on, we stopped for Opa to become one with Mongolian nature:
I am not sure what kind of bird this is – a falcon? A vulture? Whatever it was, all Opa said was that it was very heavy and BIG!
Next up – a drive through the steppe and off-road into more grassland and the beautiful national park where we will be sure to return many times over the next few years.
I mean, it was absolutely stunning. See?
And then Opa and Luca took a camel ride. I am not sure which one of them had more fun – they both laughed so hard and looked so happy during the entire ride.
Overall, an absolutely wonderful day in a beautiful part of the world. We could not get over the scenery, the animals (herds of sheep and goats, horses, camels, and yaks!), the mountains, the rock formations, the blue sky and beautiful cool fall weather, and oh yes, the size of that Chinggis Khaan statue.
It’s amazing how different Mongolia feels and looks outside of UB. Of course this excursion now triggered our travel bug to plan more trips exploring this beautiful country. And yes, there will be more camel rides … and probably more cashmere for sure.