Destination Mongolia - Frequent
February - March 2007
Yes, you can get away
IN MONGOLIA. THE SUMMER AIR IS
I have found no one expecting anything in return. Many
will even let you ride one of their horses - for free.
But there is a downside. While it's a wonderful place to take children to actually
see wild horses living free, you might find yourself a long way from the nearest
doctor. Being out of telephone range has its advantages and disadvantages.
Inside the capital, you can stay in a well-located and adequate hotel like the
Bayangol for a little over US$100 with breakfast. Outside Ulaan Baatar, hotels are sub-standard and much cheaper. All have electricity but a few lacked hot water even in the evenings and most had terrible maintenance. We frequently had to insist on a change of room because of broken windows, toilets and locks.
In the summer, we preferred to stay in ger camps so we could ride horses and go
for long walks. Be prepared to share one bathhouse with all the other travelers though
you might find yourself the only guests.
Having to use a bathroom 30 meters away is an opportunity to see the night sky, but
it can be an uncomfortable experience if it rains and the electric power is turned off.
In the north around beautiful Lake Hovsgol. the summer night can be deliciously cool. While it is great to have an attendant make a wood fire at night and first thing in the morning, rain falling in your bedroom through the ger's chimney hole can be a challenge you might not want to deal with. Still, it is part of the adventure of getting back to a world of using airplanes that depend on sight not radar.
But at Hovsgol. you can ride a reindeer and meet a lady shaman who lives in a real teepee like those used by North American Indians. While it is wonderful to wake up some mornings to the sound of yaks or horses chomping on glass outside your
door, just make sure your children - if you have any - stay away from them unless
supervised. These big animals are not in a petting zoo.
Still, Mongolia is a great place for people who want to challenge themselves. It is not
for people who want name-brand shopping and big chain restaurants though McDonald's might appear soon. It is for those who want to broaden their world.
Ruth Lor Malloy
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